Tag Archives: NATO

Germany warned against withdrawing from Afghanistan immediately | Instant News


FILE PHOTO: Outgoing leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer removes his face mask ahead of the second day of the party’s 33rd congress held online amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Berlin, Germany January 16 2021. Odd Andersen / Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) – Peace talks for Afghanistan have not made sufficient progress to allow the withdrawal of foreign troops, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Wednesday ahead of a virtual meeting with his NATO counterparts.

The Afghan government and Taliban militants started peace talks in Doha last September, but negotiations have largely stalled.

NATO defense ministers will discuss on Thursday whether the Taliban make a separate 2020 peace deal with the United States, which calls on militants to curb attacks and foreign forces to withdraw by May 1.

Washington is currently reviewing this agreement.

“This (lack of progress on peace talks) means we must prepare for a changing security situation and an increasing threat to international forces and our own troops,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement.

Germany has contributed around 1,100 troops to the NATO mission, totaling 9,600, training and assisting Afghan troops. The mission also includes about 2,500 US military personnel.

Many fear that the progress of two decades of foreign intervention in Afghanistan could quickly unravel if NATO troops withdraw, threatening gains in areas from women’s rights to democracy.

In his statement, Kramp-Karrenbauer echoed comments by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said on Monday that the Taliban must do more to meet the terms of the 2020 peace agreement with the United States.

Attacks in Afghanistan, including the bomb that killed the deputy governor of the capital Kabul in December, have prompted members of the US Congress and international rights groups to call for a postponement of the withdrawal agreed to under former President Donald Trump.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Edited by Madeline Chambers and Gareth Jones

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The Taliban praised the planned withdrawal of New Zealand troops from Afghanistan | Instant News


KABUL, Afghanistan

The Taliban on Wednesday praised New Zealand’s announcement to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in May.

“We welcome New Zealand’s decision which is in line with the Doha agreement,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in a tweet.

“We urge all countries that have exhausted their troops in the long & unwinnable war in Afghanistan to take similar steps,” he added, as NATO defense ministers met in Brussels to decide the fate of the Afghan mission.

Washington struck a deal with the Taliban last year to withdraw all US troops in exchange for guaranteed security. But the new US administration led by President Joe Biden has announced it will review the agreement given the surge in violence.

In addition to other attacks, at least 11 Afghan human rights defenders and journalists have died in the past five months, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

“After 20 years of the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) presence in Afghanistan, it is time to end our deployment,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement earlier in the day.

“The deployment to Afghanistan has been one of the longest in our history, and I want to thank the 10 New Zealanders who lost their lives while on duty.”

Of the 3,500 personnel at its peak since the US-led invasion in 2001, New Zealand currently has six troops – three each at the Afghanistan National Army Officers Academy and NATO Firm Support Mission Headquarters.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the intra-Afghan peace process, which started last September in Qatar but is currently stalled, “provides Afghanistan with the best prospects of a long-lasting political solution.”

“New Zealand will continue to support the Afghan Government and its people in the coming years, including as they work through the intra-Afghan peace process in an effort to resolve decades of conflict,” he said.


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European human rights courts back Germany in the Kunduz air raid case | Instant News


Berlin (Reuters) – A German inquiry into the deadly 2009 air strike near the Afghan city of Kunduz was ordered by a German commander to fulfill his right-to-life obligations, a European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Afghan police inspect the location of the air raid in Kunduz 4 September 2009. REUTERS / Wahdat

The Strasbourg-based court ruling rejected complaints by Afghan Abdul Hanan, who lost two of his sons in the attack, that Germany was not fulfilling its obligation to investigate the incident effectively.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO forces in Kunduz summoned a US fighter jet to attack two fuel trucks near a town that NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government says at that time 99 people, including 30 civilians, had died. Independent rights groups estimate that between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germany and eventually forced its defense minister to resign over accusations of covering up civilian casualties ahead of the 2009 German elections.

Germany’s federal attorney general has found that the commander is not subject to criminal responsibility, mainly because he believed when he ordered the airstrikes that no civilians were present.

In order for him to be held accountable under international law, he must be shown to have acted with a view to causing excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considers the effectiveness of the German investigation, including whether it establishes a justification for the use of lethal force. It doesn’t take into account the legality of air strikes.

Of the 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second largest contingent behind the United States.

The 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but US President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 to the end of this year, with troops remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold

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Germany says troops may stay longer in Afghanistan | News | DW | Instant News


German military deployments in Afghanistan as part of NATO must be extended beyond its expiration date in March, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

“The peace process will not be completed by the end of March,” Maas told Germany’s Funke Media Group newspaper in comments published Saturday.

He called for a new parliamentary mandate to prepare for “different scenarios.”

Below a historic agreement between the US and the Taliban signed in February 2020, all foreign troops will withdraw from the country in April 2021.

In exchange, the Taliban committed to US-brokered peace talks with the Kabul government and to significantly reduce violence.

Peace talks started in September 2020, however hardness remains high between the Taliban forces and the Afghan government.

German troops are deployed as part of the railroad, advisory and assistance missions in Afghanistan

Roadside bombing

There has been a spate of attacks in the last few weeks, kill government officials, judges, journalists and activists. At least four members of the Afghan security forces, including a commander, were killed and seven seriously injured in explosions in the eastern and southern provinces on Saturday, officials said.

Three other civilians were injured in the east.

No militant group has immediately claimed responsibility for the three attacks.

Fresh start with Biden

With the new US administration under President Joe Biden, Maas said a partnership-based approach was “possible again.”

There was an agreement “that we want to end this spread together as coalition partners in a responsible way that does not jeopardize the peace process,” he added.

What are the German troops doing in Afghanistan?

About 1,100 German troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of its role in NATO’s Firm Support training, advisory and assistance missions.

Under the current mandate, Germany can provide up to 1,300 troops. As part of Resolute Support, they provide consultation, training and support for domestic security forces.

They are also mandated to provide tactical air transportation and injuries.

The one-year deployment is estimated by the government to cost € 427.5 million ($ 518.2 million).

In total, the Resolute Support Mission consists of approximately 16,000 troops from 38 NATO Allies and partners.

kmm / rc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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Germany reports a record € 53 billion in NATO defense spending | News | DW | Instant News


Germany reports a record high NATO defense spending in 2021, proposing a budget of € 53 billion ($ 63.8 billion) for the current year.

That figure marks an increase of 3.2% compared to the previous year. In 2020, spending is capped at around € 51.4 billion.

Countries including Germany hope that the increase in NATO spending will subside the transatlantic dispute about burden-sharing among members.

Former US President Donald Trump accuses Germany of not contributing enough to NATO, and subsequently withdrawing thousands of US troops stationed in the country.

However, earlier this month, US President Joe Biden announced that there would be a freeze on the deployment of US troops from Germany.

Stoltenberg expected pressure from Biden

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said time and time again that he expects to take pressure on the issue from US President Joe Biden, who has promised to improve relations with NATO, unlike his predecessors.

“All US presidents over the past decade have advocated more defense spending by European NATO partners,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with the German news agency dpa last year.

Biden, he said, had asked European allies to invest more before his election.

In 2018, Trump offered the possibility of the US withdrawing from the alliance if partners soon met their goal of spending 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

Germany’s defense spending in 2020 is in line with NATO calculations, i.e. German spending should be equivalent to 1.57% of GDP – up from 1.36% a year earlier.

Expenditures remain the same despite the pandemic

Based on Glass magazine, internal analysis for 2022 also points to a severely underfunded armed forces and argues that NATO’s planning goal of having Germany and other countries contribute 2% of GDP in the next few years, “cannot be initiated or realized in time,” under current budget.

Given the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, however, Stoltenberg said defense financing must remain the same, if not increased.

“All of this has created a new security environment where continued investment in our security is necessary,” he said.

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