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The long road to stability and peace for Afghanistan Afghanistan

A soldier of the Bundeswehr walks down a road in camp Marmal in Mazar-i-Sharif

A soldier of the Bundeswehr walks down a road in camp Marmal in Mazar-i-Sharif, © picture alliance / Gregor Fischer/dpa | Gregor Fischer

24.02.2021 - Article

The federal cabinet today approved a law that aims to extend the mandate for the Bundeswehr mission in Afghanistan. The German Bundestag is now set to vote on this proposal.

One of the purposes of the mission is to help maintain the conditions that are needed to conduct the intra-Afghan peace negotiations.

For the past four decades, daily life in Afghanistan has been marked by war and violence. Nevertheless, functioning structures have been established in many parts of the country since the Taliban regime was brought down in 2001. Access on the part of the population to education, healthcare, electricity and water has improved considerably, while per‑capita income has more than tripled. A vibrant civil society and media landscape have also come into being. Women and children in particular are benefiting from the newly created freedoms, even though there is still too wide a gap between statutory rights and everyday reality.

Creating stability in a difficult environment

This progress should be maintained, while at the same time a stable political solution must be found that ends the continued high level of violence and offers all Afghans brighter prospects for the future. The current peace talks between the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban are an important step in this direction. However, this process is still in its early days. Progress requires continued support from the international community. The international military presence remains an important factor for providing the necessary leeway for the negotiations. There is also a continued need for military advice. Despite last year’s additional progress in efforts to build the capacities of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, these are not yet able to provide for security throughout the country on their own.

Against this background, the German Government is currently only planning to extend the Bundeswehr’s mandate until 31 January 2022. Germany thereby intends to remain a reliable partner, both within NATO and for its partners in northern Afghanistan, where it has assumed a special role as the framework nation for the region. At the same time, the Bundeswehr must be able to adequately respond should Resolute Support be adapted in any way. In such an event, special priority will be given to ensuring the safety of the Bundeswehr soldiers who are in the country.

The long path to peace in Afghanistan:

On 12 September, the delegations of the Islamic Republic and the Taliban took up peace negotiations in Doha. The Afghan negotiating parties themselves determine the negotiation process according to the principle “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned”. Twenty‑one envoys from each side are taking part in the negotiations, and the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team includes four women. As was to be expected, and due to the length of the conflict, the talks are not without complications and interruptions. This is further evidence of the fact that the delegates of the two negotiating teams face a difficult task. They must reach a lasting agreement that puts an end to violence, sketches out the future political and social order, and also takes into account questions of national reconciliation. Because a long-term political solution can only be reached if all relevant political stakeholders, civil society and all ethnic groups are included in the process.

Germany is actively supporting the intra-Afghan peace process in Doha by providing expertise in terms of technology and content. The progress made in recent years – especially in the area of women’s and human rights – must be maintained. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised the following at the opening of the peace negotiations:

The Afghan people want an end to violence and a lasting ceasefire. They want to live in dignity and peace. And they want the rule of law and human rights to be respected – not in theory, but in reality. Continued international support depends on respect for these fundamental rights and the constitutional order of Afghanistan.

German support for Afghanistan

Over the past two decades, the international community has provided an exceptional amount of support to Afghanistan. Germany, too, has made a wide range of military and civilian contributions. The continued deployment of the Bundeswehr is an important building block for establishing stability. The goal of continued engagement is to safeguard the progress that has been achieved in recent years and not jeopardise it with an all too swift withdrawal.

Key goals of Germany’s engagement are establishing well-functioning state structures and creating good living conditions and future prospects for the people of Afghanistan. In addition to training, advice and support for Afghanistan’s defence and security forces, Germany is above all providing humanitarian assistance and supporting development cooperation projects. Germany is the second-largest bilateral donor of civilian support for stabilisation and development cooperation (to the tune of 430 million euro annually)

Additional content

German-Afghan relations date back to the first contacts between the governments of the German Reich and the Kingdom of Afghanistan in 1915. After the overthrow of the Taliban regime in late 2001, the…

Germany and Afghanistan: Bilateral relations

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