SPD foreign policy expert Michael Müller has criticized the slow rescue of Afghans who have worked for the Bundeswehr and other German organizations in the country. This is a “sad chapter,” said the chairman of the Enquete Commission “Lessons from Afghanistan” to the “Tagesspiegel”.

“I have a lot of understanding that the federal government wants to know who is coming into the country. Security procedures are correct, but they have to be implemented more quickly,” warned Müller. 30,000 of the 40,000 Afghans who worked for Germany were admitted. “But we mustn’t leave the remaining 10,000 people there alone, we have to help them quickly.”

Mistakes in Afghanistan policy

Two years after the Taliban seized power in Kabul, Müller defended the Bundeswehr’s long-standing foreign mission in Afghanistan. “We have been able to create freedoms, educational opportunities, infrastructure and a better living environment for almost a generation,” said the commission chairman. “Is that nothing? And some of the foundations continue to have an effect. It wasn’t in vain,” said Müller.

But the SPD politician also acknowledged serious mistakes in Afghanistan policy. “It was probably an original sin not to involve the Taliban, and the experts who spoke to us confirmed that,” said Müller. “The fight against terror was understandable. However, building a state based on the Western model was unrealistic. It couldn’t work in the long run.”

Too dependent on the US military

Germany and its allies lacked knowledge and sensitivity for the country and culture, but also lacked the will of important decision-makers in the Afghan population. During the deployment itself, Germany was too dependent on the US military. “Our dependence on the political will of the United States was clearly too great,” said Müller.

The Bundestag commission of inquiry began its work in September 2022. It is not only intended to review the mission in Afghanistan, but also to provide suggestions for more critical monitoring of current and future Bundeswehr missions.

At the same time, a Bundestag committee of inquiry is examining the hectic evacuation from Kabul in the summer of 2021. The militant Islamist Taliban took Kabul on August 15 two years ago after a lightning offensive with practically no resistance.