A.The preparations for the international armed forces’ withdrawal have begun at Kabul airport. While the evacuation flights from the Afghan capital were intensified again, the American armed forces were already beginning to reduce their personnel. The Bundeswehr had flown another 178 people out after midnight local time, and the military transporter landed an hour and a half later in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
By morning, the Air Force said it had flown more than 4,600 people from Afghanistan since August 16. However, there are always new people in need of protection reporting, and there are still coordination problems when people are picked up and when they access the airport. The Bundestag is to debate the use of armed German forces in a special session on Wednesday and subsequently approve the deployment of up to 600 soldiers.
According to the US Department of Defense, around 12,700 people were evacuated on a total of 37 US flights between Monday evening and Tuesday evening. In addition, a spokesman announced that another 57 Allied aircraft with 8900 people on board had taken off. This increased the total number of those in need of protection flown out to more than 70,000.
Withdrawal of the Americans is likely to trigger a chain reaction
The announcement by the Americans that they will be leaving Kabul airport by Tuesday next week and thus ending their mission in Afghanistan will trigger a chain reaction for all the allies involved. Because before the last special forces and aircraft of the US armed forces withdraw, all other nations will have to leave the airport. As of yesterday, the USA had more than 6,000 soldiers on duty in Kabul, as well as diplomatic personnel and other civilian employees.
France has already announced that it will complete its mission by the end of the week. The Ministry of Defense has so far not given any precise details about the withdrawal of the paratroopers and other personnel from the airport. One wants to save “as many as possible”, it is said again and again officially. At the same time, the deduction is also prepared based on the remaining time, the possible flights and the required loading capacities.
Unlike the United States, Germany hardly has any heavy equipment at the airport, apart from two special forces helicopters that were flown in last week but have not yet been used. The German contingent under the command of the on-site operations leader, Brigadier General Jens Arlt, comprises around 200 men and women. There are also employees of the German embassy, the Federal Intelligence Service and the police.
Fear of attacks is growing
It can be considered certain that Germany will have completed its evacuation by the beginning of the week at the latest. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) had announced that they wanted to fly out up to 10,000 Germans, Afghan aid workers and those in need of protection. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) announced two days ago that he was trying to open the civil airport. However, the Taliban have already announced that they will not allow large numbers of their compatriots to leave the country.
The situation at the airport is, in addition to the unchanged high number of people willing to leave, shaped by the fear of attacks. Both American and German services report that radicals from the “Islamic State” (IS) “seeped in”, who are both fighting the Allies and are enemies with the Taliban terrorist organization, which is too liberal for them.
An attack at the airport could, so the considerations, affect both equally. Armed attacks and exchanges of fire have already occurred at the entrances to the airport, although the perpetrators have remained unclear.