Kabul / Berlin (dpa) – After the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, the Bundeswehr began its airlift to rescue Germans and Afghans under the most trying of circumstances.
A transport plane took 125 people to the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Tuesday. Hours earlier, the first A400M plane had dropped paratroopers for the first time in Kabul and flew 7 people out of the country on the way back. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said in Berlin that the evacuation campaign is now “in full swing”. In response to the change of power, the German government stopped state development aid and all other aid payments to Afghanistan.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier demanded that Germany do everything possible to bring its own compatriots and the Afghans, who had been by their side for years, to safety. “In addition, we must work with our allies to find ways to help those now threatened by violence or death in Afghanistan, including many courageous women.”
The state of Brandenburg wants to take over the first reception of arriving Afghan local staff. The Ministry of the Interior announced that this had been promised to the federal government.
The German government believes the return of the Taliban to power will trigger a flood of refugees from the country. Addressing the demand that Germany must accept refugee contingents, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin: “Before talking about contingents, one should first talk about safe options for refugees near Afghanistan. Then, in a second step, you can think about whether those people who are particularly affected with control and support are coming to Europe and other European countries.”
The chancellor called UN refugee commissioner Filippo Grandi. She also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with French President Emmanuel Macron and with the heads of government of Great Britain and Italy, Boris Johnson and Mario Draghi. They agreed to work closely together in the evacuation of European citizens and local personnel.
In a press conference, Merkel admitted that the West has failed to build a sustainable political system with greater freedom and development opportunities in Afghanistan. “At this point, we just have to say that we haven’t achieved our goals.” After the Taliban came to power, it is with concern that “it can all be reversed now”.
Federal President Steinmeier made a similar statement: “The failure of our longstanding efforts in Afghanistan to build a stable, sustainable community raises fundamental questions about the past and future of our foreign policy and military commitment.” The former foreign minister stressed: “We are experiencing a human tragedy today, for which we share responsibility, and a political turning point that will shake us and change the world.”
The Federal Cabinet wants to adopt the mandate for the Federal Armed Forces on Wednesday. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) wants to make a maximum of 600 Bundeswehr soldiers available for this. According to dpa information, she said this on Monday in the briefing of the Bundestag group leaders. This is to adopt the mandate in a special session in a week’s time. The FDP group expects a government statement from the chancellor, chairman Christian Lindner said. A special EU summit is also needed.
Left-wing top candidate Dietmar Bartsch accused Foreign Minister Maas and Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer of failure. In connection with the events in Afghanistan, he proposed to waive future ministerial posts. “Foreign and defense ministers paint a devastating picture,” said Bartsch of the German news agency.
The FDP chairman, Lindner, accused the federal government of making the situation more dangerous than necessary with its late intervention. “The result may be that not all people who really deserve it can be evacuated. That is a harrowing prospect for which the federal government is responsible.”
Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock also accused the government of acting too late. It is “truly fatal that the federal government has completely closed its eyes to this emergency in recent weeks,” she said in a radio interview with the broadcasting group Upper Franconia. There have been reports of the situation in Afghanistan in recent weeks and the embassy in Kabul has also issued a warning.