Tuesday, January 18

Robles warns that embassies will not be able to continue in Kabul if the United States does not guarantee their safety | Spain

The last German troops withdrawn from Afghanistan form in front of an A400M plane upon arrival at the Wunstorf base in Lower Saxony on Wednesday.
The last German troops withdrawn from Afghanistan form in front of an A400M plane upon arrival at the Wunstorf base in Lower Saxony on Wednesday.HAUKE-CHRISTIAN DITTRICH / POOL

After having removed its last troops, Spain could withdraw its diplomatic personnel from Afghanistan. Defense Minister Margarita Robles warned this Wednesday that only if the United States maintains a military contingent in Kabul will the Western embassies remain open after the departure of the last NATO troops. “Only if an American force remains [en la capital afgana], the embassies will be able to stay ”, said Robles at the International Seminar on Security and Defense, organized in Madrid by the Association of European Journalists.

The Defense Minister has acknowledged that all her NATO counterparts share the concern about the situation in which the Asian country will remain after the departure of US troops, whose deadline is September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks against the Twin Towers, although it could be almost finished this July 4, National Holiday of the United States. Spain completed the repatriation of its contingent on May 13 and this Tuesday and Wednesday Germany and Italy did. “It is not an embarrassing withdrawal, but there is concern. It seems as if we are abandoning them to their fate ”, reflected Robles.

Military experts consider that the withdrawal from Afghanistan, announced by former US President Donald Trump and maintained by his successor, Joe Biden, was a political decision and that the necessary conditions were not in place on the ground. A fall of the pro-Western Kabul government after 20 years of foreign military presence would be a severe blow to the NATO countries, which have lost thousands of soldiers and spent hundreds of billions on this campaign. Only Spain has suffered 102 fatalities and has spent 3,500 million in its military operation.

The fear is that, after the departure of the international troops, the Ashraf Ghani government will collapse in a few months like a house of cards and will not be able to resist the onslaught of the Taliban, as it already happened after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. The peace talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, have not yet yielded any results. Western countries have promised to keep their embassies open, but believe that the Afghan authorities cannot guarantee their safety, so they ask for the protection of the United States.

At this moment, according to Defense sources, the idea is on the table for Washington to leave a contingent of some 650 soldiers in Kabul who would provide security for both its own diplomatic representation and the other legations of NATO countries. In addition, Turkey could take over the security of the airport in the Afghan capital, provided an agreement is reached on who finances the operation, and a field hospital would be built in the same facilities.

Finally, Washington has shown itself willing, according to the sources consulted, to deploy a rapid reaction force of special operations in a country close to Afghanistan, which would be prepared to carry out at any moment a lightning operation to extract foreign residents or even an incursion. of punishment against the Taliban or the Islamic State.

The objective of all these measures is to give peace of mind to the foreign community residing in the country so that there is no disbandment of diplomatic and business personnel that conveys the image of an imminent fall of the regime. To shore up the Ghali government, NATO is considering appointing a special envoy for Afghanistan and signing a partnership agreement to continue to support the Kabul authorities.

Beyond the security of the embassies, Robles has been concerned about respect for human rights and the situation of women in the Asian country after the departure of international troops. “We cannot afford to go back 20 years,” he warned.


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