Sunday February 14th 2021
“Have to keep promises”
NATO boss makes serious allegations to the Taliban
Afghanistan has been a crisis region for decades. The hope that the US-Taliban agreement could bring peace to the country is apparently not working. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg therefore addresses the Taliban with clear words.
In view of the faltering peace talks and ever new violence in Afghanistan, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg criticizes the militant Islamist Taliban as unreliable. “The Taliban must keep their promises: reduce violence and end their ties to terrorist groups. Instead, we see an unacceptable level of violence on the part of the Taliban, which is also directed against doctors, judges and journalists,” he told Welt am Sunday”.
According to him, NATO will advise on the further stationing of its troops in the crisis state on Wednesday. “We will have the first NATO ministerial meeting with the new US administration and I expect the Allies to consult intensively on the future NATO presence in Afghanistan.” The war has been going on for two decades this year. “It cannot go on forever. No NATO country wants to stay longer than necessary,” said Stoltenberg.
The background to the withdrawal discussion in NATO is an agreement that the US government concluded with the Taliban. It promises the extremists a withdrawal of all foreign armed forces by the end of April. In return, the Taliban had committed to peace talks with the government in Kabul and promised a significant reduction in violence. Despite the start of peace talks in September, the conflict continues unabated.
An option to end war
You now have two options, explained Stoltenberg: “We can stay and continue to be involved in the military. Or we can leave Afghanistan and risk that the country will become a safe haven for terrorists again. There is no easy choice.” The former head of the Norwegian government added that a political solution was the only way to end the war.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had proposed extending the mandate for the German armed forces in Afghanistan, which expired at the end of March. Because by then, the peace negotiations with the Taliban would not be completed, said the SPD politician in support of the Funke media group’s newspapers.
The Bundeswehr can deploy up to 1,300 soldiers to participate in the NATO mission “Resolute Support”. The task is to advise, train and support the local security forces. The one-year deployment, which expires at the end of March, was estimated by the government at a cost of 427.5 million euros.
Maas said that a partnership approach was possible again with the new US administration. It was agreed “that we as allies want to bring the mission to an end together, in a responsible manner and in such a way that the peace process is not endangered”.
New situation in Afghanistan
According to Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Bundeswehr is prepared for various scenarios. “We are constantly coordinating very closely with the USA, NATO and our partners in action,” said the CDU politician of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. It is important to her, however, “to point out that an operation beyond the date currently being discussed between the USA and the Taliban could result in an intensified security situation”. “We would then have to further strengthen the protection of our soldiers in action.”
Shortly before the new President Joe Biden took office, the US had reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan to 2500, a low since its invasion in 2001. At that time, a US-led military invasion of the Taliban after the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11th had Rule in Afghanistan put an end.