Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Bundeswehr rescue flights end
Another day, two at most
The US military will leave Afghanistan next Tuesday – by then the troops of other countries will have already withdrawn. This means that there will probably only be a handful of German rescue flights left in the foreseeable future. But even after the end of the evacuations, the federal government wants to take care of local staff.
Rescuing vulnerable people from Afghanistan is increasingly becoming a race against time. According to information from ntv.de, the Bundeswehr airlift ends on Friday. Then the own soldiers have to be brought home, it was said from circles. Other media reports, citing insiders, that the flights would end tomorrow, Thursday. One of the reasons, the constantly worsening security situation. The German embassy in the Afghan capital warned of shootings and terrorist attacks at the airport. In addition, the US is starting to withdraw its military, without whose protection further flights would be unthinkable. Turkey, whose soldiers have also secured the airport, has also started withdrawing its troops.
“There are very often dangerous situations and armed conflicts at the gates. In addition, there are current terror warnings,” says the embassy letter to German citizens. Access to the airport is hardly possible anymore. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the security situation had worsened significantly in the past few days and fear of terrorist attacks was increasing. The Bundeswehr has been reporting since Tuesday that there are increasing numbers of potential suicide bombers from the Islamic State terrorist organization in Kabul.
Taliban assure departure
Meanwhile, according to the German Ambassador to Afghanistan, Markus Potzel, the Taliban have promised to allow Afghans to leave the country even after the international troops have completely withdrawn. The Taliban chief negotiator, Scher Mohammed Abbas Staniksai, has promised that Afghans will be able to leave the country on commercial flights after August 31, wrote Ambassador Potzel, who was sent to Doha for negotiations, on Twitter. However, “valid documents” are a prerequisite.
US President Joe Biden recently reiterated his commitment to finalizing the troop withdrawal by Tuesday next week. “The sooner the better. Every additional day in action brings additional risk for our soldiers,” said Biden. So far, the US military and allied troops have brought more than 82,300 people from Kabul to safety. According to information from Wednesday evening, the Bundeswehr flew more than 5,000 people out of the country. According to the Federal Foreign Office, there are still more than 200 German citizens in Kabul.
AKK: Try everything until the end
Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasized that in spite of the US withdrawal date on August 31, everything will be tried “until the last second and with the last plane to take away people to be evacuated”. According to ntv information, local forces from the Bundeswehr and the embassy in particular have been rescued so far. Most of the helpers from non-governmental organizations and foundations are still in Kabul.
Kramp-Karrenbauer promised that, even after the US withdrawal, Germany would continue to look after the local staff who did not make it onto one of the planes. For security reasons, the minister did not say when the time of the last evacuation flight came. The date depends on international coordination and the security situation. Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized in her government statement that the flights would continue “as long as possible”.
In order for the US to be able to withdraw its troops, hundreds of US officials and Afghan helpers and materials as planned by next Tuesday, the operation at Kabul Airport will have to be shut down days in advance – with corresponding consequences for flight operations and take-off permits for other countries’ planes. France had already announced that the French rescue flights would be suspended on Thursday evening if the US adheres to its August 31 withdrawal date.