Berlin | New York
Faced with the greater military pressure exerted by the Taliban every day on the surroundings of the Kabul airport, the German Ministry of Defense confirmed the dispatch of two H-145 M helicopters whose mission is to transport people who must be evacuated from their homes or hiding places to the airport in the Afghan capital, a journey that in many cases they are unable to travel on their own, which seriously hampers the evacuation process. They are expected to arrive in Kabul in the next few hours and begin operations “as soon as possible”. The legal coverage of this deployment has been personally in charge of Chancellor Merkel, who has requested permission from the Bundestag and has the parliamentary support for
deploy “up to several hundred” German soldiers to ensure that transfers can be carried out. “It is about expanding the operational capabilities in Kabul and getting out of there what to do with people in dangerous situations,” reported a defense spokesman.
Meanwhile, the first rescued Afghans are beginning to be distributed in different German towns. They land on Lufthansa flights at Frankfurt airport, where they pass a coronavirus test and are fingerprinted for identification, in addition to transcribing their name into Latin characters, and from there they are transferred by buses to the assigned destination. Most of them do not have to go through the asylum procedure. German soldiers accompany groups of up to twenty people with the help of interpreters.
The rise in tension in Kabul has its consequences for German domestic politics as well. The German government received harsh criticism yesterday for its false assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, which has undoubtedly contributed to aggravating the consequences of the departure of international troops. The German Foreign Minister, however, shifts that responsibility to the incorrect assessment of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), from which German foreign policy has been feeding. For his part, the former head of the BND, Gerhard Schindler, rejects the coup and alleges that the German judiciary hinders the intelligence service and makes it impossible for it to fulfill its mission.
The United States is also experiencing pressure from the Taliban to evacuate its citizens and collaborators. On Thursday, according to information from the State Department, there were 6,000 people already processed inside the Kabul airport – the only way out of the country for most Americans and Afghans – and 20 planes were scheduled to take off to remove them. The Pentagon said yesterday that only three thousand people were evacuated that day, far from the capacity of between five and nine thousand per day that the US Army claims to have.
Of the 3,000 evacuees, only 350 were US citizens, which gives an idea of the difficulties in reaching the airport, which is surrounded by a cordon and several Taliban checkpoints. Tension and violence have reigned in these days outside the airport, and although many Americans and many Afghans with visas or documentation to leave have managed to arrive, it is a risk to try to access the airfield. The Taliban have tried these days to dissuade the crowd with shots in the air, although there have also been injuries, and with attacks with bladed weapons, such as whips made with bicycle locks.
The organizational fiasco in the evacuation from Afghanistan is posing a political crisis for Joe Biden. Above all, because the signs are growing that it could have anticipated the crisis. A telegram sent on July 13 from the US Embassy in Kabul warned Washington that the situation in the country was deteriorating sharply, that the Taliban’s push was growing and that the Afghan government could not contain it for long. In the internal communication, signed by 23 members of the diplomatic delegation and to which ‘The Wall Street Journal’ has had access, they assured of the potential fall of Kabul shortly after the US troops left and gave recommendations on how to mitigate the crisis and speed up evacuation tasks.
The telegram contrasts with the version given in recent days by the Biden Administration. “There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of the Afghan army and government in eleven days,” US Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said this week.