Merkel’s Germany Tells Trump Not to Bring Troops Home from Afghanistan
The German government has come out in opposition to President Donald Trump’s plan to bring American troops home from Afghanistan, arguing that putting an end to America’s longest war would be too “hasty”.
Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said that President Trump’s planned reduction of the American military presence in Afghanistan from 4,500 troops to 2,500 troops by January 15th would endanger peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “It shouldn’t be taken for granted that these two sides, after decades of conflict, are sitting at the negotiating table to begin talking to one another in a constructive way.”
“That’s why we shouldn’t add even more hurdles, which a rash exit from Afghanistan would lead to,” he said.
Germany’s Defence Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, argued that there should not be a reduction in NATO forces in the country if a peace agreement is not reached, saying: “As before, that is the basis we’re working off of.”
The German military joined the coalition efforts in Afghanistan following the September 11th terror attacks. At its height, Germany deployed 5,000 soldiers to the South Asian country, but now has approximately 1,250 soldiers deployed.
In 2015, German soldiers were removed from the combat, now serving as support units and helping to train the Afghan army. Since the outset of the war, some 59 German soldiers have lost their lives, compared to over 2,400 U.S. military and Defense Department civilians who have died in Afghanistan, with a further 20,721 wounded.
Conservative German MP Roderich Kiesewetter said that the United States is “morally obligated” to rebuild the Afghani military and civil society, saying in September: “A hasty and rash withdrawal would only lead to the collapse of social structures and the return of organized violence of all kinds.”
The Germans do not appear to be considering filling the gap left by a potential American withdrawal with their own forces, however.
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The German opposition to a drawdown in Afghanistan comes after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowed to keep NATO forces in the country.
“The price for leaving too soon, or in an uncoordinated way, could be very high,” Stoltenberg said on Tuesday, adding: “We now have under 12,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, and more than half of these are non-U.S. forces.”