Doha/Wunstorf (dpa) – After the takeover of Kabul by the militant Islamist Taliban, the evacuation of German civilians from the Afghan capital has begun.
According to information from the German News Agency, 40 employees of the German embassy landed on an American plane in Doha in the emirate of the Gulf of Qatar on Monday evening. A few hours later in the morning, the first three military aircraft of the Bundeswehr with paratroopers on board departed for Kabul. You must secure the evacuation.
It is probably the Bundeswehr’s largest mission of its kind to date – and a particularly explosive one. “One thing is certain: it is a dangerous mission for our military,” the Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter on Monday. The Bundeswehr had withdrawn from Afghanistan only at the end of June after a 20-year deployment.
The Taliban had taken city after city in recent days, sometimes without a fight, invaded the capital Kabul on Sunday and already have the presidential palace under their control. Given Friday’s dramatic situation, the federal government has decided to keep embassy staff to a minimum. On Sunday, all employees were taken to the airport, which is secured by several thousand American soldiers.
The scope of the eviction operation is still unclear
The first evacuation flight was done with an American machine. The campaign continues with the Bundeswehr machines of the type A400M. In the coming days, they will be a central part of an “airlift” that will bring, in addition to embassy staff, other German citizens and local employees who have worked or are working for the Bundeswehr or federal ministries in Afghanistan to Germany.
The planes, which can accommodate 114 passengers and have special protection against attacks with, for example, missiles, will initially fly the victims to Tashkent in neighboring Uzbekistan. From there, it continues with civilian machines to Germany.
The total number of German civilians remaining in Kabul on Sunday was estimated to be more than 100. The number of local workers involved remained unclear until the end. It’s definitely a four digit number. Most recently, 1,100 Afghans worked on behalf of Germany only on state development aid. In addition, there are thousands of former local members of the armed forces or federal ministries.
The “core operational team” must be in Kabul. to stay
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said on Sunday that the safety of German nationals and Afghan workers has “become top priority in recent years. According to him, a “core operational team” from the embassy in Kabul will remain in the military-secured area of the airport to keep the embassy in good condition and to supervise further evacuation measures. The actual embassy building was closed.
“We are now doing everything we can to allow our nationals and our former local staff to leave the country in the coming days,” Maas said. “The circumstances under which this could take place are difficult to predict at this time.” That is why the federal government is in close contact with the US and other international partners.
The mandate for the deployment of the Federal Armed Forces is to be determined at this Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) informed the group leaders by telephone on Sunday evening, dpa learned from participants.
The Bundestag should discuss and decide on this next week. Anyway, on August 25, the parliament will hold a special session to decide on aid to the flood plains. Then the eviction operation must also be on the agenda. In the event of imminent danger, armed Bundeswehr operations, as in this case, can also be mandated retrospectively by parliament.
Laschet demands a wide airlift
CDU boss Armin Laschet called for a broad airlift for the Bundeswehr, which, in addition to Germans and local personnel, also removes women’s rights activists from Afghanistan. It is important that the Bundeswehr maintain its airlift for as long as possible, the Chancellor’s candidate said Monday as they met for deliberations of the top organs of the CDU in Berlin.
“This airlift should not only refer to local workers, not only German citizens still in Afghanistan, but should also include active women and human rights activists, activists, mayors and others. That should be stated in the mandate,” said Laschet. Opposition criticizes late evacuation
There has been massive criticism from the opposition over the pace of the evacuation. External FDP expert Alexander Graf Lambsdorff told the “world” (Online Sunday / Print Monday) that Maas, Kramp-Karrenbauer and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had “failed across the board”. The campaign also started too late for the Greens party leader Anton Hofreiter. “You have to wonder why the federal government seems so surprised by the rapid advance of the Taliban,” he told the dpa. The federal government must act very quickly now.
The party leader of the Left in the Bundestag, Jan Korte, especially called Maas’ actions “scandalous”. Korte accused the Secretary of State of endangering life. AfD faction leader Alexander Gauland criticized in the Welt that the federal government had “overslept” at the right time for the evacuation.
The leader of the SPD in the Bundestag, Rolf Mützenich, had already rejected the accusations against Maas on Sunday. “Heiko Maas is not only leading the task force to rescue German citizens and embassy staff, but has also secured the departure of Afghan local staff and other people who have been operating on the ground in recent weeks outside the support of the Bundeswehr.” He is also in constant contact with international partners.