Germany to pull army from Afghanistan

The goal of Germany’s military mission in Afghanistan has been achieved, Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has said, following the decision to withdraw the country’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, from Afghanistan.

“We have achieved the goal that for 20 years al-Qaida has certainly not operated internationally to the extent that it did when 9/11 happened,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told the public radio station Deutschlandfunk.

Following the announcement by U.S. President Joe Biden to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September this year, other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies such as Britain also started troop drawdown or announced their withdrawal.

The Bundeswehr mission in Afghanistan, with 1,109 soldiers currently stationed, has been Germany’s longest military mission in modern history with around 160,000 German soldiers deployed. “Developments were possible that would not otherwise have been conceivable,” added Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Without the mission, “we probably would not have had a school for girls to this day, we would not have had any women even in the highest offices, in the courts or other functions,” said the minister.

The main challenge was to secure the past achievements of the military operation for the future. Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that Afghanistan would still be dependent on international support for the foreseeable future and that international payments should be linked to certain conditions.

“Compliance with certain standards, such as ensuring that women and girls continue to have access to education, too,” the minister said with regard to potential conditions for development funds for Afghanistan.

At the same time, Kramp-Karrenbauer acknowledged that Germany owed it to all those who were killed and also to the bereaved families to have an “open and honest debate, an open and honest review” of the Bundeswehr’s mission in Afghanistan.