German spy services face criticism for failing to anticipate swift Taliban victory

BND Germany

THE PRINCIPAL EXTERNAL INTELLIGENCE service of Germany, known as the Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, is facing growing criticism for allegedly failing to anticipate the swift ascendance of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Critics from every political faction have described the situation in Afghanistan as an “impending disaster” for German interests, and have questioned the BND’s effectiveness and competence.

In a statement to the Bundestag this past June, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, insisted that it was “inconceivable” that the Taliban “would, within just a few weeks, be able to seize power” in Afghanistan. In subsequent weeks, other leader members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet echoed Maas’s statement. It now appears that, as German diplomats and intelligence officers were forced to leave hastily the Central Asian country, they left behind numerous “people employed in Germany’s interests”, analysis to the German national broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW).

In his according of the BND’s performance in the Afghan situation, DW journalist Marcel Fürstenau quotes former BND intelligence officer Gerhard Conrad, who claims that the spy agency lacked sources on the ground. Others, including University of London researcher Jan Koehler, tell Fürstenau that the German intelligence services failed to grasp the broader dynamics of Afghan society, which are permeated by “a lack of trust among the Afghan security forces in their own government”, and led them to surrender to the Taliban en masse.

The possibility of an official parliamentary investigation into the performance of the BND is now a strong prospect in the coming weeks, says Fürstenau. He adds that that several senior members of Chancellor Merkel’s government would have to testify behind closed doors during a probe. The soon-to-retire ‘iron lady’ of German politics may even have to testify after she leaves office, he concludes.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 20 August 2021 | Permalink