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Thursday 25 February 2021

German Troops to Stay Longer in Afghanistan

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BERLIN (Deutsche Welle) — As expected, Angela Merkel’s government has agreed to a ten-month prolongation of Germany’s military mission in Afghanistan. The current German mission expires at the end of March.

German soldiers in Afghanistan
Fayzabad, Afghanistan, 2009 — German soldiers in Provincial Reconstruction Team Feyzabad welcome back members of it Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team and 106 Protection Company soldiers after completing operation ARAGON in Archi District, where they mentored the Afghan National Army.
([Credit: Official Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Tabios, ISAF HQ Public Affairs}).

Some 1,100 German soldiers are currently stationed in northern Afghanistan as part of NATO’s resolute support mission. A week ago, the NATO chief said he had taken “no final decision” on the future of his mission. Jens Stoltenberg admitted that the alliance faces “many dilemmas” regarding continued engagement in Afghanistan.

According to the plan approved by the Chancellor’s Office, German troops will remain in Afghanistan until 31 January 2022. This bill will have no difficulty in receiving the green light from the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

Some NATO allies are facing a very negative public opinion towards the war. This is particularly the case for Germany, whose offensive launched in the province of Kunduz in September 2009 resulted in a deadly bombardment of civilians. Defence Secretary Peter Wichert and Chief of Staff Wolfgang Schneiderhan, who tried to hide the extent of civilian casualties and the responsibility of German soldiers, were forced to resign.

From the U.S. side, Joe Biden as Obama’s Vice President was a supporter of the Pakistan First option and of concentrating his country’s intervention on Pakistan’s tribal territories. However, the Pakistani government has opposed this project, which in the eyes of its public opinion would resemble a foreign, non-Muslim invasion.

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