FIR on the dramatic situation in Afghanistan

18. August 2021

We have all seen the dramatic pictures of the last few days from Kabul and some other parts of Afghanistan, where the advance of the Taliban has been proceeding at high speed following the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign forces. The short conclusion of these events can be summed up in the following balance: Foreign forces were supposed to bring peace, security, and democracy there for 20 years. However, they leave behind chaos and insecurity, especially for the civilian population, and the rule of fundamentalist Islamists.

1) The FIR and the international peace movement have made clear since 2001 that the «war on terror», as it was led by the USA and its allied forces, initially still covered by a UN mandate, in Afghanistan, is not a lasting solution to the social problem. The military mission of the German Bundeswehr was approved by the parliament for 6 months (!). This turned into almost 20 years — without any tangible result.

2) On the domestic front, the presence of foreign troops in individual metropolises has actually opened up the beginnings of democratic participation. The equal participation of women in society was made possible. Nevertheless, it had no lasting effect on social structures.

3) The Afghan government and the respective presidents were mostly rulers by foreign grace, not only in the eyes of the majority of the population, but also in their own self-image. How else can it be understood that the last president was the first to leave for a foreign country with his entourage and a large sum of money before anyone else?

4) The country’s security forces, the army and police, which were supposed to protect the democratic development of the country, have been in de facto disintegration since the final withdrawal of foreign forces was implemented. They are neither able nor willing to fill the power vacuum, but handed over the respective regions to the Taliban’s armed units at a dramatic rate. Several hundred members of the army have fled with their military equipment to neighboring countries. 

5) However, the greatest drama is the situation of civilian relief workers and civilians. It is well known that the Taliban considers the „local forces,“ i.e., Afghan employees of the respective foreign armed forces as well as helpers in civilian development projects,. They are particularly at risk in the event of an expected Taliban takeover. Nevertheless, until a few days ago, there was no planning on how to ensure their protection and/or whether to grant them political asylum in the respective country. Local forces were to leave at their own expense by civilian aircraft. In addition, the asylum application was to be processed in Afghanistan itself — a procedure that already takes several weeks under normal circumstances. Germany even went so far as to deport rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan as late as July 2021, since there were also «safe regions there.» Only in the days of the biggest chaos, all politicians outdid themselves in the demand for admission of the relief forces — knowing that a regulated evacuation is no longer possible at all.

The FIR supports in this situation the appeals of the UN Secretary-General and the resolution of the UN Security Council to an immediate end of the violence. The protection of all Afghans and international citizens must be guaranteed.

The FIR calls on all states to grant asylum and reception to local forces and their families. This is the least they can do to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.