The German government has opted to extend the Bundeswehr’s mission in Afghanistan for another year. The move defies concerns that the US is preparing to pull out of the country, rendering Germany’s contribution futile.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet has decided to extend the military mission in Afghanistan a day after an internal strategy paper showed Germany had offered to host another peace conference, this time with an extra invitation for the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic movement currently at war with NATO in the country. The Taliban took part in framework talks with US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha, Qatar, last month, while further talks, without the US, were held in Moscow.
The Bundeswehr currently has around 1,200 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, though the whole operation was thrown into uncertainty in late December, when news reports from the US suggested that President Donald Trump was planning to withdraw around half of the US military’s 14,000 troops in Afghanistan.
No timetable was laid out for the mooted withdrawal, though several German military experts, most notably retired General Harald Kujat, told the media at the time that a US withdrawal would render Germany’s continued presence futile.
Meanwhile, an internal document leaked to German weekly Der Spiegel on Tuesday (and released on Wednesday) showed the government expressing doubts about the prospects of peace in Afghanistan and apparently criticizing any potential US withdrawal plans as naive and overly hasty.