"Bitter, dramatic and terrifying": Merkel admits failures in Afghanistan
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out about the rapidly-deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, admitting some miscalculations and failures in the US-led NATO mission, and calling for urgent support for those fleeing the country.
Merkel: Germany “misjudged” situation in Afghanistan
In her first press conference since the Taliban entered Kabul and claimed victory in Afghanistan, Angela Merkel described the situation as “bitter, dramatic and terrifying”. “It is a terrible development for the millions of Afghans who want a more liberal society,” she said. “But it is also bitter for Germany and the other allied nations.”
She stated that the “breathtaking speed” at which the Taliban advanced had come as a shock, but admitted that this was a failure: “We have all, and I also take responsibility for this, misjudged the situation,” she said.
Paying tribute to the 59 German soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan, Merkel said she shared the pain of their families, “as it seems right now like it was all in vain.” She said that, while the mission had been successful in preventing a repeat of the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, “everything else that has followed has not been as successful and has not been achieved in the way that we had planned.”
Focus is on evacuating German and Afghan staff
As she spoke, a mission was already underway to evacuate German diplomatic personnel and local Afghan staff out of the airport in Kabul, which is now the last place under US control. Dramatic images have shown planes crammed with people leaving the country, while thousands more desperately try to join them, storming the runway and clinging onto the exteriors of aircraft.
German Defence Minister Annagret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the crowds were creating a “confusing, dangerous, complex” situation for German rescue planes at the airport. The first machine sent by the Bundeswehr was forced to circle for five hours over the airport before it could find a space to land.
Merkel said that Germany would do everything it could to get German citizens and Afghan support staff safely out of the country. At a meeting earlier on Monday, she reportedly told colleagues that Germany had to “urgently” evacuate 10.000 people from Afghanistan and said that the “fallout from the conflict will last for a very long time.”
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