NATO decides to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

Following the US announcement, NATO also officially decided to withdraw its troops completely from Afghanistan. According to the military alliance, the foreign and defense ministers of the 30 NATO countries agreed on Wednesday to begin the withdrawal of troops on May 1 "in an orderly, coordinated and deliberate manner". All NATO troops should leave Afghanistan "within a few months".

There are currently around 10.000 regular soldiers from NATO countries and partner nations in Afghanistan. They are supposed to support the democratically elected government by training and advising security forces in their fight against Islamist extremists like that Taliban support. Germany currently has around 1100 soldiers on site, making it the second largest provider of troops after the USA.

Federal Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had already made it clear before the NATO video conference that the withdrawal of the US soldiers compulsory the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr entails. "We always said: We go in together, we go out together," said the CDU politician in the ARD- "Morning Magazine". With this decision, the Bundeswehr's most loss-making mission in its history is about to end. 59 German soldiers died in Afghanistan, 35 of them were killed in combat or in attacks. Afghanistan is also the second longest foreign deployment of the German Armed Forces after the Kosovo mission, which began in 1999.

It remains to be seen what consequences the decision to withdraw will have for the ongoing peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the militant Islamist Taliban. It is seen as a risk that the Taliban could take power at gunpoint shortly after troops withdrew. For the young democracy in Afghanistan and progress in women's rights or freedom of the media, such a development is likely to be the fatal blow.