Sonntag, 6. Oktober 2013

Kunduz Exit

Representants of the federal German government with its minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle, and its minister of Defense, Thomas de Maizière, have celebrated the closure of the German PRT in Kunduz today together with the official handing over of the camp to the Afghan security forces. What seems like a solemn end to the German engagement in Afghanistan leaves in fact more questions open than can be answered at this point in time: Will the fragile gains of security on different district levels last for good as a result of mostly US-American anti-terrorist missions accomplished against Taliban and alleged insurgents in the Kunduz area? The recent weeks have seen the killing of the Head of the Independent Election Committee. Also the Char Dara district, famous in Germany for the first heavy air bombardment a German officer has ordered there after WWII back in September 2009, saw a reemergence of violence partly caused due to the existence of the newly created militias and local police structures, with a variety of political and security challenges ahead for the coming months that could generate more violence to come (see here). German analysts for the occasion have pointed out different scenarios for Afghanistan ahead, ranging from a new civil war to a division of the country up to the Taliban seizing power again over most of the country like in 1996. While Taliban assert to be a player in the coming political struggle for power in Afghanistan, analysts also agree to say that history will not repeat itself. This could mean a model of sharing power with the new political as well as economical elites, including legal impunity for both sides smart enough to be communicated to a public opinion highly skeptical of its political leaders. It is highly interesting but in a way scaring also in this respect that intellectual and politically westernized Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai has formed a coalition of circumstances with General Abdul Rashid Dostum with a ticket as vice-president for the letter in the coming elections. If Ghani, who is relatively trusted by western governments and diplomats and was once said to be a potential UN secretary general, joins hands with Dostum, who has a record of ruthless brutality, opportunism and in a way incarnates all sorts of anti-democratic values that play a role in Afghan poltical life, everything seems possible at once. May be also the inclusion of (former or reconciled) Taliban more or less directly coming from the battlefield in a future deal of the kind. Civil war or not could largely depend on how the elections will run. A tiny majority after the second round of voting might open up the doors for allegations of fraud and vote rigging. What will count a lot for in the upcoming months is the behaviour of Afghanistan's leading politicians and long time mujaheddin leaders and their aptitude to compromise or not. The starting election campaign has shown some signs of realism in this respect, but truth will show itself only as election day nears. Postponing the date could lead to major unrest, as it would be felt as a betrayal by many. A division of the country in some regards (language wise) already exists. Here as well, most will depend of the ability of the present political elites together with the neighboring countries Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China and India to engage or not in a multilateral dialogue that could appease or inflame the whole region. I don't personally belong to those who buy in a total withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan. The so called zero-option seems a part in the bargain for the US-Afghan bilateral agreement. The US strategically have more to loose in withdrawing from the region than in staying and having to go on fighting Taliban and insurgency. For this is clear: the insurgency does not seem ready to disappear any time soon. Several reasons that cause the fighting today will remain beyond a potential pecae agreement, as things look now. Coming back to the German presence: Afghan students I spoke to in Kabul the other day were asking me why the German footprint in Afghanistan has come to be so weak in the past few years and why other countries showed a much bigger appetite to engage with the Afghan youth, trying to establish heavy and convincing ties for their academic and economic future. In fact, there is an impression among young Afghan elites that Germany is not investing what it could invest seen its enormous economical potential. Security wise – with a look back to Kunduz – it was the military and strategical weakness of the Germans, pointed at by Afghans and Americans at some point in 2008 and 2009 that brought in a heavy contingent of US soldiers to fight the Taliban. Germans always stood in the second line, covering the anti-terror measures applied in public silence allong the years from 2009 onwards in Kunduz. They could have looked at it, as a German profiled journalist said, but they prefered to turn their eyes away from it and to act deafly.

Montag, 16. September 2013

Football euphoria

A saying about the United Nations in crisis zones when confronted to major unrest goes like this: „Last in, first out“. Today saw a relatively late statement by the special representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, on the occasion of the victory of the Afghanistan National football team in the South Asian Footbal Federation Championship. The 2:0 from last week against India was „the country’s first international football victory“, the UN press release notes, going on to say that „the win has seen the Afghanistan National Football Team rise seven places in FIFA’s world rankings table to the 132nd spot – another cause for celebration... and more than just a sporting achievement. After decades of war, this triumph was rightly seen as another powerful symbol of Afghanistan’s return to normal times.“ This apparent euphoria needs to be seen in its right proportions. Afghan footballers have made it to the headlines of the international media the second time in a few week. The win of the South Asian Championship hides a number of aspects. On the one hand, it points to what is seemingly a tangible progress amidst war and conflict, that is - the ability to play international matches considered FIFA-standard in the current Kabul context - the ability to provide security for thousands of spectators (including myself) who witnessed the historical friendly match against Pakistan (3:0 for Afghanistan) earlier last month. The main security challenge in this match for spectators – Afghan nationals as well as for the few internationals, mainly representing western media) – was the reaction of the Afghan security force against the number of young Afghans heavily pushing at the gates of the stadium, trying to get in while not in posession of tickets. Some of the security forces would point easily their guns at the spectators trying to force the thin metallic and wooden doors to the southern stadium entrance. Also, while trying to report about the scene – part of the security personel seemed not at all aware of the rights of journalist to provide photos and reporting for their respective media. For most of my Afghan collegues, being treated with verbal and/or physical violence, with hits on the camera equipment etc. is a usual phenomenon. On the other hand, the few Afghan female reporters on in the stadium were in contrast treated with dignity as far as I could observe, not did they seem to complain. Here like in other circumstances in Kabul public life – it was difficult to separate regular from unregular security forces. Where as the police typically wears two or three different types of publically known uniforms, other security personnel was from the NDS, responding to the special potential threat a match against Pakistan might involve. Finally, some of the gate keepers hat no proper uniforms at all, no suits by the Football federation but where armed with weapons and seemed the most active to try and push the youngsters without tickets out. A few days after the match against Pakistan and before the the victory in the South Asian Championshi, I could interview some of the leading responsibles of the Afghan Football Federation (see here). Besides a logical aspiration for pride and national unity, both officials point at substantial challenges ahead in their sport, that is - the survival of the Afghan Football League going into its second season would also depend on overall security in the country as well as on the longtime committment of some of its major funders, (Roshan Telecommunications, Tolo TV). Lasting financial dependency is visible from the fact that the FIFA is a main contributor to the new stadium on the AFF. Also a number of top officials working for the AFF are still being paid by the German Football Federation or by the German GIZ, while at the same time the Federation could not profit from the income of the ticket sales ranging at around 20.000 USD for the Pakistan-match. Besides security, lacking infrastructure remains a main challenge for the league before it will be possible to play of the national championship in the classical 'home and away'-mode, with travel around the country and stadiums in other cities. With the current level of TV live broadcasting for Afghan TV viewers, the investment into technical equipment would also be considerable. 26 indian TV-experts actually helped Tolo & Roshan secure a high quality TV broadcast also for the match against Pakistan. But a copy of this is not to happen in other cities of the country anytime soon, I am told. Interestingly, hardly any international media made mention of the fact that football was not the total taboo under the Taliban as Western media like to put it. As correspondents who witnessed the Taliban period have pointed out in different articles from before oct. 6Th 2001, the day of the US intervention to Afghanistan, the Taliban regime apparently adopted a much more pragmatical stance to football. On a cultural and media-political level, it desreves explanation why most of the articles fell short of this historical note.

Samstag, 18. Mai 2013

Appeal for Afghanistan

Yesterday saw the publication of an appeal from a number of influential writers, authors, journalists, former diplomats, politicians and activists for a renewed dialogue on Afghanistan. The viewpoint takes on the German federal goverment to assume its responsabilities with regard to an open and critical debate on the lessons learned since the intervention into Afghanistan started in 2001 and with regard to the involvements and risks of the (partly) withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014. Afghan ownership in the different sectors still being more wishful thinking than a political reality, the appeal emphasizes the need for a culture of debate in dignity and mutual respect as well as for new diplomatic initiatives on bilaterial and multi-lateral levels. Attached is the German version, the English is to follow. _______________________________________________ Appell für Afghanistan - Für einen erneuerten Dialog mit der deutschen Politik // Zwölf Jahre nach der US/internationalen Intervention in Afghanistan hat sich ein gerüttelt Maß an Sprachlosigkeit breit gemacht zwischen den Intervenierenden und den Einheimischen, aber auch vielen Afghanen in der deutschen Gesellschaft. Eine kritische Debatte über die Deutung der Intervention, ihre Folgen, Perspektiven und die entwicklungspolitische Mitverantwortung für eine friedliche Zivilgesellschaft findet regelmäßig weder im deutschen Feuilleton statt noch scheint sie politisch wie medial erwünscht. Ausdruck davon sind u.a. Fernseh-Talkshows, die immer wieder über Afghanistan aber selten mit Afghanen reden und dabei das Thema der deutschen Mitverantwortung weitgehend ausblenden. Zugleich betonen Militärs wie Politiker selbstkritisch, dass es angesichts einer nach wie vor fehlenden greifbaren Strategie mehr denn je eines kulturell sensiblen Dialoges bedarf, um Verletzungen, Missverständnisse und diskursive Gräben der letzten Jahre zu überwinden. So erwarten viele Menschen in Kundus nach wie vor ein menschliches Zeichen der Entschuldigung Deutschlands an die Hinterbliebenen des Luftangriffs vom September 2009. Leider ist diese Chance bei jüngsten Besuch der Kanzlerin in Afghanistan ungenutzt geblieben. Wie verhält sich etwa, so könnte man fragen, angesichts der damaligen afghanischen Opfer, das selektive Mitgefühl, der Bundesregierung mit dem – alle Menschen umfassenden – Begriff der Würde, wie ihn das deutsche Grundgesetzes formuliert? Kundus verweist wie kaum ein Ort der deutschen Afghanistan-Politik darauf, dass auch und gerade der Westen und Deutschland eine Mitverantwortung tragen für die stetig wachsenden Sorgen, die große Teile der afghanischen Bevölkerung aktuell hegen. So besteht nicht nur Angst vor einer neuen Teilhabe der Taliban an der Macht, sondern auch gegenüber „warlords“ und mutmaßlichen Verantwortlichen früherer Kriege und Kämpfe, mit denen der Westen seit Jahren Zweck-Bündnisse eingeht. Konkret besteht die Befürchtung, dass diese Kräfte nach dem (Teil-)Abzug des ausländischen Militär weiter ungestraft agieren können. Die Folge könnte eine Welle der Abwanderung vieler Afghanen aus ihrer Heimat sein. Dieser Debatte, die auf Versäumnisse in puncto Wiederaufbau Sicherheit und Vertrauensbildung hinweist, müssen sich die Verantwortlichen endlich auch in Deutschland stellen. Die jetzt offiziell verkündete 'Übergabe in Verantwortung' bzw. 'Afghanisierung' oder 'Afghan ownership' kaschiert dabei nur die mangelnde Bereitschaft sich öffentlich mit den Defiziten der letzten Jahre kritisch zu befassen, sondern auch das Fehlen ziviler Entwicklungsperspektiven. So gibt es etwa, entgegen vielfacher Beteuerungen, reale Zweifel, über Schlagkraft und Überlebensfähigkeit der afghanischen Streitkräfte. Dass diese nur so gut und effektiv sein können, wie Ausbildung und Aufbau, auf die man sich eingelassen hat, darf nicht unerwähnt bleiben. Hier wie anderswo dienen geschönte Soll-Zahlen außerdem dazu, erhebliche Mängel in der Entwicklung zu kaschieren, und mit dem eigenen Truppenabzug das „Gesicht“ öffentlich zu wahren. Weitgehend widerspruchslos übernommen wird in den Medien immer wieder gerne das Bild des ausländischen Militärs, dass Entwicklungshilfe vor Ort erst möglich mache. Unerwähnt bleibt dagegen, dass in der Praxis die meisten deutschen Hilfsorganisationen den Kontakt mit dem Militär vor Ort meiden, um sich und ihre afghanischen Mitarbeiter nicht zu kompromittieren. Nur indem man sich der Debatte über solche Folgewirkungen wie auch über die unzähligen, namenlosen zivilen Opfer in dem Krieg stellt, zumal aus Sicht der Einheimischen, wird verständlich, wo Afghanistan aktuell steht. Last but not least gehört dazu ein öffentlicher Diskurs über die strategischen Interessen nach 2014. Dass der (Teil-)Abzug das Ende des neu-aufgelegten 'Great Game' der Super- wie Regionalmächte über Afghanistan einleiten wird, ist wünschbar aber realpolitisch nicht/kaum zu erwarten. Umso wichtiger erscheint es, dass alle Beteiligten Schritte zur multilateralen Vertrauensbildung einleiten statt auf eine Zukunft mit Drohnenkriegen zu setzen. ___________________ Unterzeichner/innen // Ulrich Tilgner, Korrespondent und Autor // Roger Willemsen, Publizist // Dr. Navid Kermani, Schriftsteller und Orientalist // Dr. Gunter Mulack, Botschafter a.D., Direktor des Deutschen Orient-Instituts // Winfried Nachtwei, MdB a.D., Beirat Zivile Krisenprävention beim AA, Vorstandsmitglied Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen // Marc Thörner, freier Journalist, Autor „Afghanistan Code“ // Nadia Nashir Karim, Journalistin und Afghanistan-Expertin // Belal El-Mogaddedi, Freier Autor und Initiator der Villigster Afghanistan-Tagung // Dr. Ernst-Albrecht von Renesse, Rechtsanwalt und Mitinitiator der Villigster Afghanistan-Tagung // Martin Gerner, Autor und freier Korrespondent

Academy: The Hindukush of the Others

My lecturing on Afghanistan started at Bamberg University/Bavaria, Germany earlier last month, with a seminar on Afghan Cultural Identity reflected through Film, Media and Art and aligning a century of modern Afghan history, picking up the debate on the early Afghan constitutionalist movement and reaching out to the perspectives of a country highly in state of emotional alert at the approach of 2014. Bachelor and Master students in the seminar come from the fields of Oriental Studies and Communication studies. The group work is unique in the sense that I do organise regular skype interventions inbetween others with experts, scientifics and critically thinking youth from Afghanistan in the meetings in order to overcome the usual debate "about" Afghanistan and in which often enough Afghans are not part of, and replacing it by an approach that makes Afghan voices, spectra of argumentation, thinking and identity visible. The seminar is to be repeated in the coming semester at the Free University of Berlin very probably and open to demands from further institutions.

Dienstag, 7. Mai 2013

State of the Afghan media

The Doha Center for Media Freedom has looked at the persisting difficulties Afghan media face as the western partly withdrawal of troops approaches. I am putting an extended version here of what they have taken over here. -------- WHAT are the core problems faced by independent media in Afghanistan? Security remains a problem, especially for journalists out of the urban centers, where attacks are numerous especially in the south and south east. Lacking transportation and protection, local correspondents often depend on governmental authorities to drive them out to remote locations for fact checking. Local media regularly face with intimidation by government authorities as well as by regional strongmen or Taliban. Gender remains an obstacle. In the provinces, sometimes there are no female reporters to go and tape a story with females. The further away from the urban centers, the less training opportunities there are for journalists. Most of the money on media is spent in Kabul while the need for independent reporting is particularly huge in remote areas. Kabul allows for women to make their own reporting, but harrassement in this as in other circumstances happens daily and with a growing tendency, as women report who fear a return of the Taliban. Afghan journalists not only complain about intimidation by Taliban but also from governmental side. There have been numerous attempts to censor reporting and in depth research on Taliban and insurgent attacks that address critical questions to state insitutions. As of today, journalist associations still fight for the adoption of a law for the free access to information, allowing them to investigate without fear of being accused of treason or acting against national interests. All theses reasons in a way logically contribute to self censorship, a phenomenon regularly occuring in Afghanistan. National or regional power brokers, more generally called warlords, very much fear the impact of critical media and reporting. In return and with growing impact from 2006 onwards, a number of them have responded by mounting their own media, easily influencing an audience very much oriented to consumer orientated entertainment with serials or game shows. In the absence of real journalistic unions, the existing organisations do not make enough of an impact and tend to work along ethincal lines. The lack of an independent judicary very much impacts on an impression of permanent pressure and threat. Despite these problems, it is fair to call the development of media in Afghanistan a success story over all since 2001. This goes by the sole number of media outlets available. Satellite dishes have become common also beyond Kabul and tv and radio programmes still grow in number, while some editors-in-chief already fear serious repercussions for 2014 with foreign donor money rapidly decreasing. The success story of media is a relative one at the same time. The independent media – still largely dependent on foreign aid – have a difficult stand in the ever more intense battle for the Afghan audience. For instance the first independent national news agency that came into existence after 2001 had to suffer serious cut backs last year and lay off a considerable number of staff, before finding a new financial achnor only recently. Still the agency is unable to live on own revenues. One reason for this is that a major portion of the advertising market now goes to TV and radio stations. With an ever growing number of Afghan households turning to entertaining serials this is where the money lies.  -------- WHAT pressures are they under from pro-government actors and armed groups? Both, pro-government actors and armed groups, fear any revelation of irregularities. This could be an issue of corruption or the use of illegal force in most cases, also human rights abuses as seen on both sides. Recently, a number of independent Afghan media is trying to stand togehter as a free consortium, publishing investigative stories at the same time on the same day, thus creating a public reality and awarness that would protect them from a blame game by the authorities or regional strongmen, making it more difficult to pick on them or intimidate media. It remains to see if this model can make its way, so far also depending on foreign aid money. -----WHAT is the correlation between the number of media outlets and the freedom of the press? The amount of Afghan TV stations growing at a dizzying speed does not automatically stand for a rise in journalistic quality nor is it necessarily a sign of a more vivid civil society, since the tv market does not follow the logic of public independent media. Different stations work with international financial support - ranking from the international military, that succeeds in keeping this an issue not much discussed, to Iran, who exerces a offensive policy towards Afghan journalists at intervals. For some businessmen at a national or local level, owning a media, tv or radio, is an important factor of prestige and power in a society that consumes more and more programmes daily. Top ranking stations like Tolo, Ariana or TV1 look pretty modern and catchy in their presentation, mixing classical international formats, with current news, regular debates that only occasionally get really into being disputed and game shows. Lack of an advertising market in the print sector and the Western military withdrawal will accelerate the economical crisis also in the media sector. We are likely to see a number of printed outlets disappear. Afghan media observers predict that a number of the newly created tv stations might soon disappear, not being able to rival in quality also in the absence of income sources. On the other hand, simple radio phone-in shows allow women to participate in the public sphere. These phone-in programmes can also be seen as a way to signal what is going wrong in the social neighborhood and thus contribute to public awareness on a local scale. As for the so called warlord media, Afghan media seem largely to be left alone with them, the inernational community having turned their eyes away from the media sector. Still Afghan journalists suffer, get kidnapped or die in the exercise of their profession.

Dienstag, 12. März 2013

Ghazni: what to celebrate?

The city of Ghazni, a two hour car drive south of Kabul, is the capital of Islamic culture in Asia this year. Official celebrations are announced to be held in mid April, though there is little hope that besides VIP's, officials, diplomats and journalists ordinary visitors or tourists will be able to travel and assist. On the opposite: the organizers want to bring the city to the people outside instead, as recent developments indicate. It is thanks to Mahmud of Ghazni (971 -1030) that the city of Ghazni, some 140 kilometers southwest of Afghanistan's capital Kabul on the road to Kandahar, is being celebrated this year. The most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty brought together Islam, the Persian language and the Turkish art of war in an empire that once stretched from today's Iran to India. '"Mahmud of Ghazni turned the city into a thriving capital by inviting artists, writers and scholars from all over Central Asia to the court," Karsten Ley of Aachen University says. He is currently working on the restoration of Ghazni as part of a team of urban development experts led by Michael Jansen that has been in the city since 2010. "This is exactly what we can see as integration of different cultures in the best European sense," he added. „At first, we were shocked at the condition the wall was in," Ley say. The city wall, the citadel and two well-preserved dodecagonal minarets are Ghazni's main historical landmarks. Germany has contributed some 1.7 million euros to their preservation. "The point of the project is not for us Germans to come here and show people how to restore a city wall," Ley explained. "Our role is to help organize the project and help the people of Ghazni preserve their wall." "We've consolidated the foundations of about 1,500 meters so that it cannot cave in anywhere," he said. He was not worried that the 400 builders working around the clock on the project could come to harm. "Suicide bombers tend to seek out bigger gatherings of people and Western forces are not in the city of Ghazni but outside the city walls." However, the lack of security does mean that Afghans from elsewhere cannot access the city. "I can't go to Ghazni right now," Arif, a journalist and collegue says. "The Taliban are threatening everyone who works with the foreign media or foreigners with abduction or death." Therefore, Wahidullah Omaryar, the head of a private radio station in Ghazni, has been communicating with the outside world via Skype. "When Ghazni was nominated as capital of culture, everyone was very happy, including me," he said. "The city's history is being revived and the world won't forget us." But he explained that it had been a long, difficult process and of the 30 planned projects, very few had met the deadline. The Afghan media recently warned that Ghazni could lose its title of capital of Islamic culture before the celebrations had actually begun in earnest. "Some 15 million US dollars were transferred to the Afghan authorities for the anniversary," Waidullah said. "I don't know of any project that has been accomplished with this money. There is still no airport without which no visitor can come!" Ghazni's 140,000 inhabitants were promised better electricity, an Islamic cultural center and 150 kilometers worth of newly-asphalted roads - only 50 of which have reportedly been finished. The hopes that there would be economic exchange have also been dashed. Arif has little hope that there will be many visitors to Ghazni this year. "There will be a few symbolic delegations. The police and army will be here to protect them. And they will leave again after one or two days." However, as long as neither Afghans nor foreigners can come to Ghazni, by plane or by land, curators are suggesting the capital of Islamic culture go to them in the form of photo exhibitions, films and videos. This way, Ghazi's name will be revived two thousand years after Mahmud made this city into a cultural landmark.

German Angst? Withdrawal politics

In diesen Tagen machen sich deutsche Medien Gedanken über die Folgen des Rückzugs vom Hindukusch. Der Abzug der Bundeswehr, lesen wir, erfülle viele afghanische Helfer der Deutschen mit Panik. Anfangs waren vor allem afghanische Angestellte in Diensten des deutschen Militärs damit gemeint. Jetzt entdeckt die Öffentlichkeit, dass auch afghanische Mitarbeiter ziviler Hilfsorganisationen möglicherweise Repressalien ausgesetzt sein könnten. Deshalb sei es, so die Ansicht, Deutschlands moralische Pflicht, jenen Afghanen, die sich mit den Deutschen vor Ort eingelassen haben, zu helfen. Ihnen eine Zukunft ohne Angst und Schrecken zu sichern gehe am Besten, in dem man sie vor möglichen Racheakten der Taliban schütze. Denn die Aufständischen haben jenen, die mit der afghanischen Regierung zusammenarbeiten oder aus Ländern der NATO-Truppensteller kommen, den Krieg erklärt. Im Gespräch ist deshalb immer wieder Hilfe für eine erleichterte Ausreise. In der Tat deutet aktuelle wenig darauf hin, dass die Waffen mit dem Abzug 2014 schweigen (danach werden immer noch Zehntausende internationaler Militärs im Land verbleiben). Und in Ermangelung funktionierender Versöhnungsprogramme und einer Spirale aus Gewalt und Misstrauen, sind Racheakte unter Afghanen nicht auszuschließen. Beispiele gibt es genug. Gleichwohl ist dem Land mit einem massiven Exodus afghanischer Helfer im Dienste der Ausländer nicht gedient. Zehn Jahre besuche ich das Land nun regelmäßig, und treffe dabei regelmäßig auf ganz andere Geschichten, als ich sie in unseren Schlagzeilen finde. Als ich zum Beispiel unlängst in Mazar-i-Sharif afghanische Dokumentarfilmer und Journalisten ausbildete, klangen ihre Erzählungen weniger dramatisch als vermutet. Zurück in Deutschland fiel mir ein Beitrag in einem grossen deutschen Nachrichtenmagazin in die Hände, der von der Angst der Bundeswehr-Helfer sprach. Darin abgedruckt war die Geschichte eines Afghanen, der als Wachmann für die Bundeswehr in Camp Marmal, dem grossen Militärlager im Norden, arbeitet. Ich schickte den Bericht einem vertrauenswürdigen, mir aus vielen Jahren bekannten afghanischen Kollegen in der Stadt. Seine Antwort kam prompt, fast ein wenig ironisch: der Mann in dem Bericht, so meinte er, sei nicht gefährdet. Warum er das so genau sagen könne, vergewisserte ich mich? Weil es sein Nachbar sei, und noch dazu ein guter Verwandter, antwortete er. Bis heute habe ich keinen Grund an seinen Worten zu zweifeln. Tatsächlich findet sich in dem Artikel kein direkter Hinweis, inwiefern der Wachmann von Taliban akut bedroht wäre. In dem Gespräch artikuliert er vielmehr allgemeine Sorgen über Sicherheit und Zukunft. Das wiederum verbindet ihn mit der grossen Zahl seiner Landsleute, die Sorgenfalten bekommen, je näher der Abzugstermin rückt. Was aber ist die beste Lösung? Vor Jahresfrist machten Meldungen die Runde, Deutschland überlege angeblich sämtliche afghanischen Angestellten der Bundeswehr in Sicherheit zu bringen. Hat nicht das US-Militär im Irak ähnliche Programme aufgelegt? Lässt sich so nicht eine in vieler Hinsicht schief gelaufene Intervention noch einmal mit Sinn versehen? Mittlerweile sprechen sich deutschen Ministerien, die den Abzug koordinieren, für notwendige Einzelfallprüfungen aus, in denen „nachweislich“ und auf „konkrete Gefahren“ hin jeder Fall untersucht werden solle. Tatsächlich bin ich geneigt dem beizupflichten. Weniger weil das Militär dies sagt, als aus Gründen, die mit Afghanistan selbst zu tun haben. Denn eine Pauschal-Erleichterung zur Ausreise könnte vor allem einen deutlichen Aderlass für Teile der Zivilgesellschaft im Land bedeuten. Nicht wenige der afghanischen Helfer sind jung und vergleichsweise gut ausgebildet. Gerade jetzt besteht die Chance, dass eine neue Schicht heranwächst, die zumindest einen Teil weit anschließt an ein aktives Bürgertum, das durch die Flucht vor Sowjets, Mujahedeen und Taliban verstreut in der ganzen Welt lebt. Soll man solch einer Entwicklung Vorschub leisten? Die Anzahl der Helfer, die im zivilen Bereich mit und für Deutsche arbeiten, geht ebenfalls in die Hunderte, wenn nicht darüber. Auch sie schweben in einer gewissen Gefahr, wie Gewaltakte gegen internationale Hilfsorganisationen und Mitarbeiter zeigen. Aber wer will hier die Grenze ziehen zwischen festen und freien Mitarbeitern, aktiven und ehemaligen, privilegierten und weniger privilegierten? Und welches Zeichen würde man damit setzen? Es stimmt: mit Fundamentalisten ist nicht zu scherzen. Andererseits hat dies die meisten Afghanen, die ich kenne, nicht davon abgehalten, sich mit ausländischen Projekten und Partnern einzulassen. Was wäre, wenn die erleichterte Ausreise Schule machen würde? Kabul wäre sehr rasch entvölkert. Wer aber tritt dann an die Stelle derer, die Platz machen? Damit kein Zweifel aufkommt: Die Gründe derer, die seit Monaten schon auf gepackten Koffern sitzen, respektiere ich zu Genüge. Interessanterweise spielt bei ihnen die Angst vor der Rückkehr skrupelloser warlords fast ebenso eine Rolle wie die vor den Taliban. Davon liest man nur wenig in unseren Medien. Auch nicht davon, welchen Anteil der Westen daran hat, dass viele dieser warlords gewendet aber nach wie vor fest im Sattel sitzen. Für die Lage in Mazar-i-Sharif gilt: die Verhältnisse sind relativ. Weitaus härter umkämpft sind der Süden und Osten des Landes. Dort hat es in der Vergangenheit Racheakte gegenüber afghanischen Übersetzern und Dolmetschern gegeben, die mit dem US-Militär kooperierten. Die meisten Angestellten der Bundeswehr hätten Derartiges nicht zu befürchten, meint mein Informant. In Kunduz, wo die Jagd nach Taliban in den vergangenen Jahren brutaler verlief, mag es dagegen etwas anders aussehen. Eine wasserdichte Überprüfung, wer von den afghanischen Helfern in welchem Ausmaß bedroht ist und wer – aus anderen Gründen, die ebenso wenig verwerflich sind – mit der Ausreise liebäugelt, wird es in den wenigsten Fällen geben. Zu zeitintensiv dürfte es in der Regel sein, allen Erklärungen bis ins Letzte nachzugehen. Am Ende könnte sogar neues Misstrauen durch zuviel Wunsch nach Kontrolle (durch die Deutschen) stehen. Anders Neuseeland: es soll, so ist zu lesen, afghanischen Angestellten seines Militärs folgenden Deal angeboten haben: Visa für einen Teil der afghanischen Helfer, oder drei Jahresgehälter für andere, um sich selbst in Sicherheit zu bringen. Letzteres dürfte vor allem den wachsenden Sozialneid schüren, der sich als Folge der internationalen Intervention im Land breit gemacht hat. Eine Folge davon: das Geschäft mit Entführungen, das unter Afghanen noch mehr floriert als gegenüber Ausländern. Das ist hierzulande wenig bekannt und hat doch mit uns zu tun. Allgemein lässt sich sagen: Jene, die in elf Jahren wenig vom Kuchen der ausländischen Hilfe profitiert haben, sind bitter geworden, ablehnend manchmal, oft nur noch zweckrational eingestellt. Als Ausländer bekommt man das mit jedem Jahr deutlicher zu spüren. Aber man mag das gar nicht einmal verurteilen. Dass nicht alles hoffnungslos ist, beweisen junge Afghanen, die nach erfolgreichem Studium im Ausland in den letzten Jahren jetzt wieder zurückgekehrt sind nach Afghanistan, um dort so etwas wie einen Marsch durch die Institutionen anzutreten. Einige von ihnen haben sich der Bewegung namens “Afghanistan 1400“ angeschlossen. 1400 ist nach unserem Kalender das Jahr 2022. Ein Markstein, ähnlich wie eine Agenda 2010. Bis dahin wollen die jungen Männer und Frauen die alten Eliten herausfordern, korrupte Strukturen in Frage stellen und wo es geht gesellschaftlichen Einfluss gewinnen. Viele in der 1400-Bewegung hätten es vergleichsweise leicht gehabt, nach dem Studium im Westen zu bleiben. Sie haben es nicht getan und so ein Zeichen gesetzt.