Maas: Embassy staff moved to Kabul airport | free press


Berlin / Kabul (dpa) – Germany has closed its embassy in Afghanistan due to the Taliban advance on Kabul and relocated personnel to the military section of the airport in the Afghan capital. This was announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas (SPD) on Twitter on Sunday.

“The employees have now arrived there and are making them suitable for work,” explains Maas.

He had again convened the federal government’s crisis team before noon. It involves “taking immediate measures to secure and leave behind German workers and other people at risk en route from Afghanistan.”

The news magazine “Der Spiegel” had previously reported on the evacuation of the German embassy. After initial reports of Taliban units entering the city, the approximately 20 embassy and federal police who had been deployed to protect the diplomatic mission were transferred to the military-secured airport for security reasons.

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said Sunday afternoon, when the summer interview was taped for the ARD’s “Report from Berlin” program, that the evacuation of German embassy personnel and Afghan local personnel was underway. Now it’s about speed. “We have to act quickly.” This is also possible. All things are “on the way”.

This Monday, Bundeswehr paratroopers fly in military transporters to Kabul. On the same day, according to information from security circles, a so-called crisis support team (KuT) consisting of experts from various ministries arrives in the Afghan capital.

In the Uzbek capital Tashkent, a second KuT has to organize a hub to rescue people from the Islamists. It is the largest evacuation operation of the Bundeswehr to date.

Seven weeks after the last German soldiers withdrew from Afghanistan, one crisis meeting after another in Berlin has followed in recent days. The hot phase began Friday at 11:30 a.m. with deliberations at the Foreign Office. The numbers could change, but at least 57 embassy employees and 88 other Germans will have to be flown out. In addition, there is a large number of endangered Afghan local workers.

After a hiccup in recent weeks about the departure of Afghan employees to Germany, a total solution is now being prepared. Germans and their employees are flown out for a joint mission. Ministry of Development organizations alone currently employ more than 1,000 local workers in Afghanistan. But employees in German media are also at risk.

For many local workers, however, the roads to saving Kabul have already been blocked after the Taliban continue their campaign of conquest at a brisk pace, often against government forces that capitulate without a fight. You are now practically at the gates of Kabul. Military planners consider it unlikely that they would be able to attack evacuation forces in the Afghan capital given the renewed increase in US troops, but an “infiltration” is expected.

That is why the military leadership also put NH-90 helicopters ready on Friday, which could take over the transport within Kabul. However, they were only recently withdrawn from Afghanistan and would now have to be moved back to the Hindu Kush with the power of their own engines and through numerous intermediate stations.

In the new week, however, paratroopers will be deployed from the Rapid Forces Division (DSK), which the Bundeswehr keeps ready for this task as part of national risk and crisis prevention. The specialists are stationed in Saarlouis (Saarland) and Seedorf (Lower Saxony) and all belong to Airborne Brigade 1. “It is the Bundeswehr’s fastest available brigade for crisis developments abroad,” writes the Bundeswehr.

They were on the starting blocks in Seedorf this weekend. A figure of 300 soldiers is considered realistic. German military police (“Feldjäger”) and Bundeswehr medic are also involved.

Because the evacuation is primarily a logistical task: people on a list have to be collected and identified at a certain moment – if necessary in a hostile environment where roads can no longer be used unhindered. The Bundeswehr has never had such a mission so far away. But: When Albania collapsed in March 1997, German soldiers had flown about 100 people from Tirana with “Operation Libelle”. There was a gunfight. In 2011, threatened Germans were removed from Libya during “Operation Pegasus”.

Bundestag mandate is being prepared

A parliamentary mandate is now being prepared for the evacuation from Kabul, which has been urged mainly by military experts in recent days. The soldiers want the support of politicians. Formally, the evacuation mission is deemed to require a mandate because after the NATO mission “Resolute Support” has ended, no basis is given for the previous mandate. But in the event of imminent danger – ie when it comes to life and limb of Germans abroad – action would also be taken immediately and on the basis of a cabinet resolution.

It is clear that the rapid collapse of the Afghan armed forces built up with money and weapons will raise questions later. Former NATO General Hans-Lothar Domröse is already calling for a reconsideration of the approach to military assignments outside Europe. “We will have to rethink our whole concept of ‘train assist advisor’ (training, support, advice) and, to be honest, we have to ask the question: does it work outside of Europe? Apparently not,” the army general said in NDR Info on Saturday. When broadcasting abroad, one should set clear political goals in advance, show long perseverance – or not go there.

The West has “trained 350,000 security forces in Afghanistan and they are reasonably well equipped. More helicopters fly with it than with the Bundeswehr. So: you haven’t used it, and why not?” There is a lack of morale and loyalty, Domröse said. The Afghan soldiers “don’t have what for”.

In Berlin there is now criticism, but also agreement from parties that have always been against this mission: the left-wing defense politician Alexander Neu pointed out that other states are closing their embassies in Kabul completely and said in view of the defeat of the US in the war in Vietnam: “Not the Red Army scenario in 1989, but the Saigon scenario.”

AfD defense politician Rüdiger Lucassen wrote in an internal group letter that arguments against the deployment and orders to the Bundeswehr to democratize other states have now been confirmed “irrefutably”. The rescue of Germans from great danger is always and everywhere supported.