Allies rally US to Afghanistan ‘debacle’ – .

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Allies rally US to Afghanistan ‘debacle’ – .


Berlin (AFP)

Allies and critics on Monday condemned the United States for the botched end of its 20-year NATO campaign in Afghanistan, with a prominent German politician calling the withdrawal “the biggest debacle” in the history of the alliance.

Stunned by the lightning advance of the Taliban across the country after the departure of Western troops, NATO allies scrambled to evacuate their nationals as well as vulnerable Afghans.

The Taliban’s return to power and chaotic scenes of people desperate to board Western military planes to flee Kabul have sparked criticism of the two-decade operation, which claimed the alliance thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars in funding.

In a meeting with senior officials of her party, German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that developments in the country were “bitter”.

She said, however, that once the United States decided to pull out of Afghanistan, it was clear that Germany and other allies had to follow suit.

The decision was “ultimately made by the Americans,” and “internal political reasons” were partly to blame, the chancellor said, according to meeting attendees.

– ‘Effet domino’ –

“The troop withdrawal triggered a domino effect” which culminated with the return to power of the Taliban, said Merkel, whose country provided the second largest contingent of troops in the NATO operation after the United States. United.

“For the many people who have built on progress and freedom – especially women – these are bitter events,” she said.

The leader of her party had harsher words, calling the entire operation in Afghanistan a disaster for NATO.

“This is the biggest debacle NATO has suffered since its founding, and we are facing a change of times,” said Armin Laschet, who is the Conservative candidate to succeed Merkel as chancellor in the September elections .

For now, the focus should be on the operation to evacuate the German army from Afghanistan, he said.

“But we will talk about the causes and conclusions drawn after this rescue mission – an unrestricted analysis of the errors in Germany, with our allies and in the international community,” he said.

On a more diplomatic note, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said failure to anticipate the speed of the Taliban’s advance was a collective mistake.

“There is no need to talk about it. All of us – the federal government, the intelligence services, the international community – have misjudged the situation, ”Maas said at a press conference in Berlin.

– ‘Failure’ –

Britain also criticized the US decision to leave Afghanistan, with Defense Secretary Ben Wallace warning on Friday that the Taliban’s resurgence would create fertile ground for extremists threatening the world.

“Of course, Al-Qaida will probably come back,” he said, warning that this would lead to “a threat to our security and our interests”.

“I felt it was a mistake to do this, that we are all, as an international community, going to pay the consequences,” Wallace said of the Doha agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban.

The deal, signed under former President Donald Trump last year, would have seen the United States withdraw all of its troops by May 2021 in exchange for security guarantees from Islamist extremists.

When Joe Biden took office earlier this year, he extended the withdrawal deadline to August 31.

Like Merkel, Wallace said the deal Trump struck left Britain with no choice but to withdraw its troops as well.

The rare criticisms of the role of the United States by the allies dovetailed with the negative voices of China and Russia.

Beijing has repeatedly criticized what it sees a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan as a failure of leadership, while Moscow has said the withdrawal means the United States has failed in its mission in Afghanistan.

For Wallace, the Taliban takeover was a “failure of the international community” because he accused the West of myopia.

“If it’s a failure, it’s a failure of the international community not to realize that you don’t fix things overnight,” he said.

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