Germany to give green light to extend military mission in Afghanistan

The German cabinet in Berlin is expected to give the green light on Wednesday for an extension of Germany’s military mission in Afghanistan until January 31, 2022, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The current parliamentary mandate for the German operation with up to 1,300 troops expires at the end of March.

This however comes amid a review by the new U.S. government of the February 2020 deal signed between the US and the Taliban which calls for a full foreign troops withdrawal by May 1 this year.

Kramp-Karrenbauer meanwhile warned a premature withdrawal of NATO troops could jeopardize peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

She also said NATO troops needed to prepare for Taliban violence should they stay beyond the end of April, Reuters reported.

This announcement comes after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that the military alliance will only leave Afghanistan when security conditions allow.

NATO has just under 10,000 troops in Afghanistan – most of whom are not U.S. forces.

In addition, US President Joe Biden is reviewing his predecessor’s 2020 deal with the Taliban, which includes a May 1 deadline for a final U.S. troop withdrawal.

However, in Washington, calls are mounting for the U.S. to delay the final exit or renegotiate the deal to allow the presence of a smaller, intelligence-based American force, Reuters reported last week.

After chairing a NATO defense ministers meeting last week, Stoltenberg said: “Our presence in Afghanistan is conditions based, and Taliban has to meet their commitments.”

“The main issue is that Taliban has to reduce violence, Taliban has to negotiate in good faith and Taliban has to stop supporting international terrorist groups like Al Qaeda,” Stoltenberg said.

“We will only leave when the time is right and the focus now is how we can we support the peace talks,” he said, referring to slow-moving negotiations between the Taliban and the Kabul government, which began last year in Qatar.

Reuters reported that none of the 30 NATO member governments has publicly argued that security conditions are right for a withdrawal, and several allies would probably support a longer stay if the U.S. requests it.