A week after a Taliban attack in Kabul left six people dead and over a hundred wonded, an all-Afghan peace summit is due to start in Doha on Sunday. Germany is co-sponsoring the meeting with Qatar.
Markus Potzel, Germany’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, made the announcement and said, “only Afghans themselves can decide the future of their country.”
Potzel has become a familiar face in Afghanistan. Just a few weeks ago, he held meetings with key stakeholders across the Afghan political spectrum. In May, he had at least two meetings with the Taliban.
Germany wants to play an active role in the peace process and ensure that it is inclusive. The Afghan government’s exclusion from bilateral talks between the Taliban and the United States is a concern in Berlin. The Germans believe only an all-Afghan process can pave the way to a sustainable settlement. The hope is that the Doha meeting will be a step in that direction. Read more “Germany Seeks Active Role to Ensure Inclusive Afghan Peace Process”
Last month, NATO allies issued a warning to Russia, urging it to destroy a new missile system that could threaten Europe or face a “defensive” response.
The warning is a final opportunity for Russia to respect the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. If it doesn’t — and Russia claims the system in question has a range of only 480 kilometers — it will be another wake-up call for Europe. Read more “Russian Missile Treaty Violation Is a Wake-up Call for Europe”
Donald Trump has not exactly shied away from advocating for better American relations with Russia. During his presidential campaign, he argued that “Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other toward defeating terrorism and restoring world peace.” He has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and accepted his denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
It looks like a European army might really happen.
German chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, endorsed the call of French president Emmanuel Macron for an EU fighting force.
She praised the 25 member states — Denmark, Malta and the United Kingdom are not participating — that committed last year to enhance interoperability, pool their defense procurement and improve military logistics under the so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
When President Donald Trump announced his intention to strike Syria in mid-April, Angela Merkel quickly excluded German participation in the attacks even though she publicly proclaimed support for her allies’ action.
Yet after the airstrikes were conducted by the United States, Britain and France, Germany’s defense minister, Ursula Von der Leyen, said the Bundeswehr could have been taken an active role after all.
Her statement seemed designed to stave off questions about Germany’s military readiness and willingness to support its allies.
Von der Leyen claimed the only reason Germany hadn’t joined the airstrikes was that it hadn’t been asked.
Britain, France and the United States attacked three targets in Syria last night in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack by Bashar al-Assad:
A scientific research center in the Damascus area.
A chemical weapons storage site west of Homs, which Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said was “the primary location of Syrian sarin … production equipment.”
A chemical weapons equipment storage facility and command post close to the second target.
American defense secretary James Mattis called Friday’s attack a “one-time shot” and emphasized that the strikes weren’t aimed at Assad’s protector, Russia.
President Donald Trump, however, singled out Iran and Russia for their support of Assad.
“What kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?” he asked. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.” Read more “Airstrikes in Syria, Explained”