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“This is an extremely bitter development”

Angela Merkel takes a self-critical look at the international military operation in Afghanistan. He was “not as successful as we wanted to”. Lessons have to be learned from this “and your goals must also be made smaller”.

B.und-Chancellor Angela Merkel rated the international mission in Afghanistan as a disappointment. Beyond the fight against terrorism, the almost 20-year mission “did not work as well as we planned,” said the CDU politician in front of the press in Berlin on Monday evening. “That is a realization that is bitter.”

The allies would have to admit “that these were not successful efforts”. Lessons have to be learned from this “and your goals must also be made smaller” in such operations. “Since the withdrawal of the foreign troops, we have seen how the Taliban have re-conquered province by province, city by city and brought the whole country back under their control. That is an extremely bitter development, ”said Merkel.

“This development is bitter, dramatic and terrible, especially for the people in Afghanistan,” said the Chancellor. The situation is “terrible for the millions of Afghans who have campaigned for a free society”.

Merkel dampened hopes that Afghan local staff would be accepted in Germany. She announced that Germany would do everything possible to bring local workers from Kabul to safety; at the same time she admitted: “Unfortunately we no longer have that in our hands.” Whether the evacuations can be carried out depends “on the situation in Kabul”.

As far as possible, about a thousand people who have worked with German government development aid organizations and 500 others who have worked with non-governmental organizations such as Welthungerhilfe should also be brought out of the country.

Merkel also made it clear that the German government did not intend to take in a large number of refugees from Afghanistan in Germany. “Our main goal is to provide perspective to those who have directly helped us,” she clarified. Others would have to make sure that they “find a safe place to stay” in the region. To this end, Germany will also quickly offer support to neighboring states of Afghanistan who take in refugees from there.

In addition, the German government wants to speak to the Taliban to help as many people as possible, said the Chancellor. She referred to the government’s “long lists of people who have stood up for freedom”.

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Merkel also relativized the assessment of the then Defense Minister Peter Struck (SPD) that German security would also be defended in the Hindu Kush for the present day. Assuming that it was at the end of 2001 – “It was about the security of the United States of America and thus also our security,” said Merkel when asked by a journalist whether the Struck sentence still applies today. In the meantime, however, the question has been put into perspective, because the terrorist organizations Al Qaeda and Islamic State “do not have such a base at the moment”.

But she said “for the moment”, stressed Merkel: “I am very careful with further forecasts. If that were the case, we would have a terrorist threat again. ”In this respect, Struck’s sentence was correct. “At the moment it is perhaps a bit relativized. But he was correct from Mr. Struck’s perspective at the time. ”She took over the sentence and did not want to relativize it in any way.

In 2002, Struck declared: “Germany’s security is also being defended in the Hindu Kush.” In response to the Islamist terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the USA, the Bundeswehr had moved its areas of operation far beyond the European horizon.

Merkel pointed out that if you take into account the disappointments and developments of many people who might now have to leave their homeland, this always has something to do with security in the distant sense. At the moment, however, this is “certainly not as elementary” as it was in 2001 and the early 2000s. “But it was not a sentence – I would strongly disagree – that was supposed to serve to create political opportunities,” said the Chancellor.


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