Afghanistan situation is ‘bitter, dramatic and terrible’, says Merkel

Afghanistan situation is 'bitter, dramatic and terrible', says Merkel
Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Reuters/Pool | Christian Mang
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the international mission in Afghanistan as a major disappointment, and said the country would do all it could to get citizens out of the country.

In a press conference held on Monday after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, Merkel said the US-led NATO operation achieved less than planned.

“The developments are bitter, dramatic and terrible,” Merkel said. “The development is dramatic for the people of Afghanistan. But it is also bitter for Germany and the other allied nations.”

Merkel said that she shared the pain of families of soldiers killed in the mission “as it seems right now like it was all in vain”. She paid tribute to the 59 German soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan, as well as those who were injured. 

The mission managed to stop Al-Qaeda repeating its September 11th, 2001 attack on the United States, but “everything else that has followed has not been as successful and has not been achieved in the way that we had planned,” Merkel told journalists.

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Merkel had not expected the Taliban takeover to be so successful so quickly. “We misjudged the development,” she said.

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan on Sunday after the government collapsed, with president Ashraf Ghani conceding the Islamists had won and fleeing the country.

Their victory comes after US and NATO forces began withdrawing from the country in early May, almost 20 years after they arrived.

Merkel said Germany will do all it can to get German citizens and Afghan support staff to safety.

Dramatic videos posted on social media on Monday showed desperate people running next to planes at the airport in a bid to get out of the country.

The Bundeswehr’s evacuation plans are underway, said Merkel. However, the situation in Kabul is difficult.

Afghan journalist Aref Saboor, who assisted the German army, spoke out to say so far no help has arrived from the Bundeswehr to evacuate him and other local staff.

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‘Misjudged the situation’

Earlier in the day, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday admitted NATO allies had underestimated the speed of the Taliban’s advance across Afghanistan and failed to anticipate that Afghan forces were not ready to take up the fight.

“There is no talking this up. All of us – the federal government, intelligence services, the international community – misjudged the situation,” Maas told a press conference in Berlin.

The allies had not reckoned with the possibility “that the Afghan armed forces were not prepared to confront the Taliban,” Maas said. “That was a
misjudgement on the part of all of us.”

The Taliban’s return to power and chaotic scenes of people desperately seeking to get on Western military jets to flee Kabul have sparked criticism of the end of the two-decade operation, which cost the alliance thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars in funding.

Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate aiming to succeed Merkel after elections on September 26th, slammed the operation as “the biggest debacle” in NATO’s history.


Member comments

  1. We overlook the point: the war in Afghanistan was never about so-called “nation-building”, that was a moral put-up job; everyone from the British in the 19th century through the Soviets to this operation knows that a war in the Hindu Kush is unwinnable. The aim was to concentrate the terrorists in a manageable enclave from which they could not launch serious attacks on the West. In other words, employ them in a place far away that no one cares about except those who live there.
    How many serious terrorist attacks have there been in Western countries since the occupation and the Western-funded “Arab Spring”? Yes, a few dead here and there, especially in Nice, but nothing of the order of 9/11 in New York or 7/7 in London or 11-M in Madrid. That was the point of Afghanistan!
    Of course it would never last; the people who are now crying “shame” are the same ones who were previously calling for the withdrawal. Now the terrorists will again have a home-base from which to attack the West, and the whole cycle will recommence.

    1. As George Santayana famously said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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