The Bundeswehr tweeted four photos to the world on June 5, 2021. They show Brigadier General Ansgar Meyer, then the commander of German forces in Afghanistan, as he leads Afghan General Mustafa Wardak through Camp Marmal, a German military camp near Mazar-i. Sharif: They are preparing for a “smooth handover of the property to the Afghan Armed Forces,” the tweet said. The Germans are leaving the north of the country, where they were responsible for security for years.
Afghans should not be happy in the base for long. two months after the appointment, the Wardak unit surrendered to the Taliban. But when it was foreseeable to the German government that the Afghan armed forces and the government of President Ashraf Ghani would collapse and that the Taliban would suddenly take over the country in the Hindu Kush, that is one of the main questions in which the investigating committee. The Bundestag now wants to give clarifications.
This Thursday, the MEPs, chaired by SPD MP Ralf Stegner, will begin their substantive work, which will cover up to 4 weeks after the signing of the so-called Doha Agreement between the US and the Taliban on February 29, 2020. calamitous days in Kabul in August 2021, when troops from NATO countries hurriedly left in a military evacuation operation, leaving thousands of local Afghan workers who had worked for Western governments, and since then, some likely to fear for their lives.
The Germans were aware that the withdrawal of Western troops could play into the hands of radical Islamists, according to federal government documents available to the committee. As early as December 2020, in a note from the Federal Ministry of Defense classified as “confidential information, for official use only”, WDR and South German newspaper as seen by other documents, it says that “images of flight” should be “avoided”. But that would require “relocation in order,” but the Ministry’s Office of Strategy and Deployment considered the likelihood of that to be “very low” even then, given the strict specifications of the Americans.
“To avoid escape images”
Months later, at a staff meeting on May 11, 2021, the topic came up again. “To avoid images of escape. “Contingent’s request to hand over the CM to the 209th Corps of the National Army,” reads the log, which is also in the files. CM stands for Camp Marmal, the camp. The 209th corps is the division of General Vardak. “Escape images are to be avoided at all costs and relate to leadership,” it says elsewhere in bold, three exclamation marks. Everything should seem calm, as if no one has anything to worry about.
The Camp Marmal episode is one of many that can be reconstructed from the tens of thousands of documents the committee has had to sift through over its years of work. It is too early for final assessments, but one can discern the broad outlines of political decision-making processes in Berlin and internationally, which in some ways resemble the history of a military camp.
US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is alone negotiating a deal with the Taliban. International partners dependent on the US presence in Afghanistan are informed but not consulted. “We need to demand more transparency and engagement from Washington,” Berlin told the embassy in Kabul, referring to the withdrawal of Western troops days after the accord was signed.
Diplomats warned that the agreement “contains nothing about a continued reduction in violence by the Taliban”. The Taliban have “not given up on anything” other than the fight against terrorism, but have been given a “clear timetable” for their withdrawal. The bottom line is that they just have to wait and see.
Civil war as the most likely option
Taliban violence and dissension within the Afghan government are consistently identified by agencies as issues in the desired peace process. In the scenarios of the Ministry of Defense, immediately after the conclusion of the agreement, the “continuation of the military struggle” by the Taliban appears, as well as “permanent civil war”, the last option is marked in green, one of the most likely options.
The federal government hopes that after the November 2020 presidential elections in the United States, it will be able to change Washington’s approach again. Because the internal political pressure is removed from Donald Trump. Or his rival Joe Biden corrects the course. The Federal Foreign Office urges NATO supporters to make withdrawal dependent on progress in the peace process and the situation in Afghanistan. Germany will not insist on this.
In order to influence the Afghan sides of the conflict, Berlin is considering acting as an organizer and mediator of peace negotiations. The government in Kabul, largely ignored by US negotiator Khalilzad in talks with the Taliban, is approaching the Germans as a wish.
The Federal Office of Foreign Affairs is already urging the Federal Government in spring 2021 to facilitate the entry of local workers into Germany by issuing visas upon arrival, but the Federal Government is not preparing for a real crisis scenario of a possible collapse of the state and the country. evacuation of thousands of people. The opposite. The Ministry of Economic Cooperation assumes that it will continue to provide assistance to the development of Afghanistan even after the withdrawal.
Many are already in office
The Foreign Ministry plans to maintain diplomatic presence. Back on August 10, a senior official of the Agency’s Crisis Response Center wrote in a letter to colleagues: Five days later, the Taliban captured the Afghan capital, Kabul, and desperate people clung to American warplanes as they took off.
Those who were politically responsible in Germany at that time are no longer in office today, Chancellor Angela Merkel has retired, as has Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is an ordinary member of the Bundestag. However, high-ranking political officials may find themselves in the spotlight. Jens Plötner, for example, Security Policy Adviser to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, then Political Director of the Federal Foreign Office. Or Bruno Kahl, head of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND). Therefore, the commission should focus primarily on “authority, organization, operation and cooperation, and lessons for avoiding errors in the departments involved in the federal government and its subordinate agencies,” according to the appointment order.
The Afghan investigative committee wants to hear the first witnesses very soon. three employees of the Federal Ministry of Defense, who were involved in the preparation of reports on the situation, and diplomats of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs were invited. MPs depend on files to prepare the survey. However, key shares are still available, even though MPs have requested them before the summer holidays. The chancellor defaults as much as the federal home office. What particularly angers the parliamentarians is that the Federal Intelligence Service provided only part of the material in question. According to the service, more than 20,000 documents could be relevant. They are generally subject to confidentiality and are therefore provided only on paper with a blackened hand. During that time, the BND assigned 25 people to him. BND chief Bruno Kahl, 60, who was appointed by Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2016, also faces criticism that his house has been too slow to recognize the seriousness of the situation. S.Z