Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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Report on the 6 Oct. Podium in Berlin: A Legitimacy Breakdown

AAN admin 2 min

Green Security Policy specialist Winfried Nachtwei – arguably the most knowledgeable MP in the German Bundestag who, unfortunately, did not run again on 27 September, and just came back from his 14th trip to Afghanistan -, Spiegel magazine reporter Susanne Koelbl, who just had visited Kunduz after the fateful airstrike against two hijacked kerosene transporters that killed more than a hundred people and AAN’s Thomas Ruttig discussed strategies for Afghanistan on Tuesday. The podium was organised by the Green Heinrich Boell Foundation and Berlin daily ‘tageszeitung’ (or taz). Taz reporter Stefan Schaaf summarized the discussion with ‘evil tidings from the Hindukush’ and diagnoses ‘wrong strategies’ of the West as the reason.

The first topic were the 20 August Afghan elections. Thomas Ruttig, echoing AAN’s reports on the issue, stated that there was ‘systematic and widespread electoral fraud’. Preisdent Karzai, he added, had apparently come to the conclusion ‘that he could not win with fair means only’. Nachtwei called the elections and the West’s subsequent tame reaction a ‘total write-off of legitimacy’. He criticized the German government for not having strongly reacted to the fraud.

Susanne Koelbl commented on the motivation of the German participation in the Afghanistan mission. Although it was never put like it, she said, the German government ‘is defending its alliance and the good relationship with the Americans’ in the first place. The result: Germany is ‘mingling through’ only in Afghanistan. Between 2003 and 2006, it had not made use of the still peaceful situation in Northern Afghanistan to push reconstruction forward. Ruttig said that it did not give ‘the feeling of security to the local population by frequently patrolling’ most of the areas. Nachtwei added that by adopting a ‘non-aggressive approach’, though, Germans had avoided the ‘rambo image’ of other troops.

Answering a comment from the audience whether the failures and strategic misconceptions justified an immediate withdrawal, Nachtwei and Ruttig argued against this. Nachwei defended the Petersberg process and Ruttig said that the West ‘bares the political responsibility to stand by the Afghans, first of all by recognizing its own mistakes and not continuing them’.

Read Schaaf’s full report in German here.

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Germany International Affairs