Correspondent in Berlin
The German ambassador to Washington, Emily Haber, warned Berlin on August 6, a week and a half before the fall of the Afghan capital, that a Saigon scenario was expected in Kabul. In a telephone report to the German Foreign Ministry, he reported that the US Administration was counting on the Afghan government to collapse faster than expected and suggested that emergency plans for the German Embassy in Kabul should be activated. Germany should be prepared for the fact that, if the situation worsened, the Americans would act alone and without consulting the Allies.
The report was classified as a secret by his senior sources. One of Haber’s interlocutors in the United States was the CIA chief himself. From within the Ministry, however, someone started talking about the report and tracked down the opposition. The departure from Afghanistan has coincided in Germany with the campaign for the general elections of September 26 and has become electoral ammunition. Moments before the plenary session of the debate on the state of the nation in the Bundestag began this morning, the green deputy Britta Hasselmann has requested the opening of a commission of inquiry, which can address the matter with more means than “limits the work of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs committee ”.
At the end of last week, the German government rejected the request of the Liberal Party (FDP) deputy, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, who requested that the report be available. for confidential inspection in the secret protection office of the Bundestag. The chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, asked Minister Heiko Maas about the report on Monday at the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee meeting and, according to several participants, Maas was not amused that the content of the report was circulating. He replied that publication was not of interest and justified that it had been agreed with the Foreign Ministry that the report would not be made available to the deputies. At the same time, he tried to minimize the explosiveness of the cable. “It was one of many cable reports, only with a particularly bleak tenor,” he said.
The Greens and the FDP are now calling for a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the events surrounding the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which can only take place in the next legislature. But the special meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs has already provided a preview of what to expect from such a committee of inquiry. Maas responds unperturbed that his Ministry did not leave the Embassy staff unprotected in Kabul during an irresponsible period, but evacuation plans were implemented earlier until the situation changed significantly on August 13, when the Embassy received indications that the United States was beginning to evacuate its representation.
The deputy director of strategy and operations of the Ministry of Defense, Major General Andreas Hoppe, has reported for his part that the military reported that they had received the cable from the United States from the beginning and that they properly analyzed it, arriving at “a different evaluation »To that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hoppe has not explained what exactly he means by that, but he distances himself from Foreign Affairs and will likely be questioned again on Wednesday, at the Defense Committee. Several MPs, including the chairman of the CDU committee Norbert Röttgen, reacted to Hoppe’s remarks with surprise and misunderstanding.
“We were told on the afternoon of August 13, at the commission’s briefing, that Kabul would not fall quickly,” criticized external FDP expert Bijan Djir-Sarai. “Today it is said that the crisis team had already decided to evacuate in the morning. The front and back do not go together. Today’s meeting brought more questions than answers.