Just one day after telling a G7 conference that the Afghan migration wave is “not an acute issue”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a speech in Parliament (Bundestag) about the “breathtaking speed” with which the Taliban takeover happened.
All members of the international community operating in Afghanistan have underestimated the speed of the victory following Western allies’ troop withdrawal, but the work of the last nearly t20 years has not been in vain despite the Taliban takeover, Merkel said in the Bundestag on Wednesday.
The chancellor stressed at an extraordinary meeting convened to grant parliamentary authority for the army’s (Bundeswehr) rescue operation in Afghanistan. She said tht everyone knew a difficult situation would emerge after the withdrawal and the Taliban would try to break ahead, but no one expected the “breathtaking speed” at which Afghan government forces retreated before them.
This breakdown of the Afghan army only increased further when political leaders left the country, Merkel noted, referring to the former Afghan president fleeing the country. Developments in recent weeks have been “terrible and bitter”, the rise of extremist Islamists to power has led to “terrible human dramas”.
Therefore, the operation of the Bundeswehr should be continued for as long as possible and the work of UN organizations working in support of the Afghan population, in particular the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), should be supported, she said.
At the same time, the original purpose of military operations has been fulfilled, as the country has not been the base of Islamist terrorism since its inception. Thus, there has been no terrorist attack from Afghanistan since 2001, and this is also due to German soldiers.
International development cooperation has also yielded significant results, the chancellor said, citing as an example that infant mortality has fallen by 50 percent in twenty years, from almost 20 percent in ten years to almost 20 percent of after barely 10 percent, more than 90 percent of Afghans have access to electricity.
However, due to the turnaround of recent weeks, “the Taliban are the reality” in the Asian country now, Merkel said.
Title image: German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers her speech during a special session of the German parliament Bundestag on Afghanistan in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)