No country's soldiers are safe in Afghanistan after US withdrawal, says German FM
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Aug. 12 that no country's soldiers are safe in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal from the country. “This [the U.S. withdrawal] meant that all NATO forces had to leave the country as well, because without American capabilities... no one country can send their soldiers there safely,” Maas said.
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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Aug. 12 that no country can deploy their soldiers to Afghanistan safely under current conditions.
Maas made the comments while speaking to the German broadcaster ZDF.
When asked about the gains made by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Maas referred back to the decision of the United States to withdraw from the country.
“This [the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan] meant that all NATO forces had to leave the country as well, because without American capabilities... no one country can send their soldiers there safely,” Maas said.
Germany’s government had considered the idea of a longer mission in Afghanistan but “could not act outside of NATO,” Maas said.
German soldiers were deployed as part of a NATO force in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years until June.
Underlining the escalating danger in Afghanistan, the foreign ministry changed its guidance for Germans, asking them to leave the country "urgently".
Maas also said that Germany will not provide any financial support to Afghanistan if the Taliban takes over power in the country and introduces Sharia law.
"We provide 430 million euros ($505 million) every year, we will not give another cent if the Taliban takes over the country and introduces Sharia law," he said.
Afghan government forces battled Taliban fighters in and around several cities on Aug. 12, according to officials, as the militants pressed on with their offensive that U.S. intelligence believes could see them take over the capital, Kabul, within 90 days.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Aug. 11 that he could meet with the leader of the Taliban as part of efforts to end the fighting in Afghanistan.
"Our related institutions are making efforts that could extend as far as some meetings with the Taliban. Maybe even I can be in a position to receive the person who will be their leader," Erdoğan said in a live televised interview with CNN Türk.
Erdoğan said that he earlier spoke with the Qatari leader and they discussed "where can we stop the steps taken by the Taliban and where can we take a step towards peace."
The Taliban have warned Turkey against keeping troops in Afghanistan to guard the airport.
Turkey has offered to deploy troops at Kabul airport after NATO withdraws and has held talks with the United States for weeks. In exchange, Erdoğan has asked for financial, logistical and diplomatic conditions to be met.
Turkey has contributed troops to the NATO mission over the past two decades and currently has around 500 soldiers in non-combat missions in Afghanistan.
US to reduce Kabul embassy to core staff
Meanwhile, the United States will reduce staff at the embassy in Kabul to a “core diplomatic presence” and send about 3,000 troops temporarily to the airport to assist as the Taliban made rapid gains in Afghanistan, officials said on Aug. 12.
The news of the embassy drawdown is one of the most significant signs of concern in U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration about the security situation and the failure of the Afghan government to protect key cities.
“We’ve been evaluating the security situation every day to determine how best to keep those serving at the embassy safe,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
“Accordingly we are further reducing our civilian footprints in Kabul in light of the evolving security situation,” Price said.
“We expect to draw down to a core diplomatic presence in Afghanistan in the coming weeks,” he said, adding that the embassy was not closed.
The Pentagon said that it would send about 3,000 additional U.S. troops temporarily to Afghanistan to help secure the drawdown of personnel.