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Establishment of the 1st Committee of Inquiry in the 20th electoral term

German Bundestag                                                                                                21 June 2022
20th electoral term   
                                                                                                                                       

Motion
tabled by the SPD, CDU/CSU, Alliance 90/The Greens and FDP parliamentary groups

Establishment of the 1st Committee of Inquiry in the 20th electoral term

The Bundestag is requested to adopt the following motion:
A. The German Bundestag notes:
After almost 20 years, the German peace mission in Afghanistan ended with the conclusion of the military evacuation operation from Kabul on 27 August 2021. The military evacuation operation took place in dramatic circumstances with very little time to prepare due to the swift collapse of the Afghan government and security forces, and the resulting rapid advance of the Taliban and the capture of Kabul. Despite huge efforts by the German personnel in the country – from the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Intelligence Service, the Federal Police and the Bundeswehr, the political foundations and numerous development organisations – many local Afghan employees of German agencies, without whom the engagement in Afghanistan would not have been possible, could not be evacuated from Afghanistan in time.

The situation in Kabul and in Afghanistan at the time of the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr, other NATO forces and diplomatic missions in the course of the Taliban’s rapid seizure of power requires an investigation into how representatives of federal authorities reached their assessments of the situation and their decisions in connection with the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr and the evacuation of the staff of the German embassy and German citizens, and in connection with the protection and admission to Germany of local employees who supported the work of the Federal Republic of Germany and of German organisations and institutions. These assessments of the situation and the decisions taken as a result of the agreement reached by the US government under former President Donald Trump and representatives of the Taliban in Doha (29 February 2020), and in connection with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, also affected employees working for the German embassy, for the political foundations, for implementing organisations in the field of development cooperation and non-governmental organisations, for the missions of the European Union and the United Nations (UN), as well as journalists, women’s rights activists, people working in the cultural sector, LGBTIQ people, Afghan politicians, other local employees, and people who were advocates for human rights, the country’s democratisation and an open society (hereinafter: „other affected groups“). In the course of the dramatic developments, the Federal Government also promised to support these people (and groups) and admit them to Germany.

The German Bundestag is determined, in the framework of a parliamentary committee of inquiry, to play its part in thoroughly investigating the circumstances, the genesis and the course of the military evacuation operation and the approach taken in relation to the local Afghan employees of German agencies, and to highlight lessons learned for the future.

B. The German Bundestag adopts the following decision:

I. Establishment of a committee of inquiry

A committee of inquiry shall be established in accordance with Article 44 of the Basic Law.
The committee of inquiry is to have 12 full members (SPD parliamentary group: 3 members, CDU/CSU parliamentary group: 3 members, Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group: 2 members, FDP parliamentary group: 2 members, AfD parliamentary group: 1 member, The Left Party parliamentary group: 1 member) and a corresponding number of substitute members.

II. Mandate of the Committee of Inquiry

The Committee of Inquiry will develop an overall picture of the Federal Government’s intelligence, decision-making and actions, particularly in the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Ministry of Defence, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and in executive agencies and federally owned corporations/companies that were involved, in connection with the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr and other NATO forces and diplomats and the evacuation of people in the context of the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan following the Doha agreement. Furthermore, the inquiry will examine whether and to what extent links existed and communication took place between German and foreign stakeholders in this context.

Another subject of the inquiry will be whether and to what extent the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies and federally owned corporations/companies sought to advance the interests of local employees and other affected groups or sought to ensure their protection or their admission to Germany, and what communications on this subject took place between the authorities and organisations involved.

The inquiry will also examine whether and to what extent the Federal Government influenced the implementation of the Doha agreement and the arrangements for the withdrawal of troops by its partner the United States, and pressed for peace negotiations with the Taliban with the involvement of the Afghan government to be launched and brought to a successful conclusion with binding guarantees prior to the withdrawal, and what steps, if any, the Federal Government or its executive agencies or federally owned corporations or companies took to prepare for the evacuation of German citizens, diplomats, local employees and other affected individuals in the event that peace negotiations were unsuccessful.

The Committee of Inquiry will also investigate when, if at all, the Federal Government and executive agencies and federally owned corporations/companies had their own intelligence as well as indications and information about the withdrawal of allied armed forces and diplomats, and what steps and measures, if any, were subsequently taken or not taken to prepare for the withdrawal and evacuation of Germany’s own armed forces, diplomats, and other affected groups.

The Committee of Inquiry is to form a judgement on the question of whether the Federal Government, and in particular the competent federal ministries and their executive agencies, took appropriate steps that exhausted the legal options; who bore lead responsibility within the Federal Government on which issues; whether – and if so, what – information was exchanged by individual governmental agencies in a timely and appropriate manner; and whether appropriate cooperation took place or information was exchanged with intelligence services and security authorities in and outside of Europe and international organisations. The question of whether the German Bundestag was informed in a timely and appropriate manner about the situation and the planning at all times will also be examined.

Furthermore, the inquiry will examine whether and, if so, to what extent the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies carried out an assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan – particularly against the background of the announced withdrawal of the US armed forces – what criteria were used in the assessment, and whether or to what extent examination standards were upheld. The Committee of Inquiry will also investigate whether and to what extent any existing indications and information were assessed and reviewed in the Federal Government and its authorities and agencies, and whether the aforementioned entities could potentially have taken steps earlier that would have paved the way for a different approach to the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr, German
diplomats, local employees and other affected groups, and for what reasons difficulties and delays, if any, arose in the evacuation and the admission process, and how these were handled by the Federal Government and by the competent authorities and agencies. In addition, the Committee of Inquiry will examine the question of what developments in this context were known, if any, to entities with operational and legal oversight over the competent authorities; whether and, if so, what conclusions were drawn from the developments, indications and information; and whether and to what extent political instructions issued by the senior management of the individual ministries played a role in this context, and who bears political responsibility for any potential failings.

The Committee of Inquiry will also present findings about whether and to what extent the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies complied with existing law, existing competences and due diligence obligations.
The inquiry will cover the timeframe from 29 February 2020, when the agreement between the US government under former President Donald Trump and representatives of the Taliban was concluded in Doha, to the end of the mandate for the deployment of German armed forces for the military evacuation from Afghanistan on 30 September 2021.

III. The Committee of Inquiry is to investigate, in particular:

1. whether – and if so, which – entities and/or persons in the Federal Government, particularly in the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Ministry of Defence, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and in executive agencies and federally owned corporations/companies that were involved, were tasked with and responsible for monitoring and assessing the general security situation in Afghanistan and with preparing for the end of the Bundeswehr’s mission, the withdrawal and the evacuation of German personnel present in Afghanistan, local employees and other affected groups;

2. whether – and if so, what – information, from which sources, was available to which German agencies operating in Afghanistan, particularly intelligence services, and to which federal authorities about the situation in Afghanistan, especially about the stability and capacity for action of the Afghan government and its security forces and its support among the population, on the one hand, and about the Taliban on the other hand, specifically about their strength and strategy, their contacts and negotiations with Afghan regional governments, the Afghan central government and the civilian population, their sources of funding, and the number of their members and supporters;
3. whether the Federal Government and the federal security authorities and intelligence services anticipated the rapid developments in Afghanistan or even considered them as a possible scenario, and if not, why not. In this context, the inquiry will investigate: How did the exchange of information about the developments in Afghanistan take place between the federal ministries and the authorities? Was the frequency of situation reports on developments in Afghanistan increased in the course of 2021? If so, from when and on whose instructions? If not, why not? Did a discussion take place between the Federal Government’s ministries and authorities about how the situation was developing and the potential implications? If so, who was involved, in what form did this take place, what were the results, and how were these results fed into the development of an overall picture of the situation and consequently into the Federal Government’s decisions?
4. whether – and if so, what – intelligence, information and indications in connection with the withdrawal of allied armed forces were available when to federal authorities, including in collaboration with foreign agencies and intelligence services in the framework of information-sharing or cooperation at European, NATO and international level; and what action, if any, was taken or not taken on the basis of this intelligence in each case;
5. whether – and if so, what – conclusions were drawn when and by whom in the Federal Government after the US government’s announcement that it would be withdrawing from Afghanistan, and what scenarios were planned and prepared when and by whom;

6. whether and to what extent France’s decision to begin evacuating its local employees already on 10 May 2021 influenced the Federal Government’s decisions, and how closely the Federal Government was engaged in dialogue with France;

7. whether the Federal Government had knowledge – and if so, what knowledge – of the concrete effects of the Taliban’s advance in Afghanistan on the safety of the employees of German development organisations, political foundations and non-governmental organisations; how the Federal Government assessed the safety of these local employees after the withdrawal of the international troops, and how it intended to ensure their safety;

8. whether – and if so, how – the relevant assessments of the situation were produced within the Federal Government and in interministerial bodies, how they were substantiated, and how they were received, processed and acted on in analytical and political terms in the various federal ministries;

9. whether – and if so, how – assessments of the possibility of deportations to Afghanistan were produced and updated by the competent federal ministries;

10. on what basis the Federal Government, while preparing for the last mandate extension for „Resolute Support“, assumed, as regards the veracity and clarity of the mandate text of February 2021, that the ability of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces at Mazar-i-Sharif and Kunduz to independently exercise responsibility for security could be increased further, and what steps, if any, the Federal Government took to achieve this;

11. whether – and if so, when – intelligence, indications and information about the operational readiness and operational capability of the Afghan military and about the Taliban’s advance were shared between authorities and other agencies at European, NATO and international level; in this context, whether and to what extent federal authorities influenced the assessment of the general security situation in Afghanistan and of the risk emanating from the Taliban; and whether and to what extent the view held by the federal authorities was shared by international partners and other countries, if any. The inquiry must also examine whether the Federal Government drew conclusions from this for the situation reports and the preparations for the period following the withdrawal of international troops, and whether German agencies warned of the fall of Kabul;

12. whether and to what extent the Federal Government influenced the implementation of the Doha agreement and the arrangements for the withdrawal of troops by its partner the United States, and pressed for peace negotiations with the Taliban with the involvement of the Afghan government to be launched in order to reach a successful conclusion and binding guarantees prior to the withdrawal;

13. whether – and if so, when – federal authorities received or transmitted data, intelligence, information and indications about the general security situation in Afghanistan and about the Taliban in the framework of police, judicial or intelligence information-sharing or cooperation at European, NATO and international level, and in each case what action was taken on the basis of the intelligence obtained in this context;

14. whether lead responsibility was assigned within the Federal Government for triggering and implementing the military evacuation option, and if so, to whom lead responsibility was assigned. How was the lead responsibility implemented? Which ministries and authorities were involved before and during the military evacuation mission? How was information relevant to the situation coordinated and passed on within the ministries and authorities concerned? How were the ministries and authorities that were necessary for or involved in the military evacuation mission coordinated, and by whom? Furthermore, the inquiry is to examine whether the evacuation measures took place in an appropriate manner and one that reflected the situation, and to what extent they differed from planned measures, and why. In
particular, the inquiry is to examine whether the evacuation measures took place in time and on the scale required;

15. whether and to what extent the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies coordinated with foreign agencies in connection with the evacuation of people from Afghanistan during the timeframe to be examined by the inquiry;

16. whether and to what extent the Federal Government was involved in the European Union’s decisions, planning and actions in the framework of the evacuation of people from Afghanistan during the timeframe to be examined by the inquiry;

17. whether and to what extent the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies, or persons commissioned by them, held talks with persons in positions of responsibility within the Taliban during the timeframe to be examined by the inquiry, and if so, what was discussed and negotiated in the framework of these talks;

18. whether and to what extent the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies know whether and to what extent representatives of the European Union, NATO or the UN held talks with persons in positions of responsibility within the Taliban during the timeframe to be examined by the inquiry, and if so, what was negotiated in the framework of these talks;

19. whether – and if so, what – concrete measures were taken by the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies in order to undertake in time the necessary and required preparations and measures, particularly with regard to the identification of people potentially entitled to leave the country and with regard to the evacuation of staff of the German embassy as well as local employees and other affected groups;

20. whether and to what extent approaches and decisions differed between the ministries regarding the discussion in the first half of 2021 about admitting local employees to Germany; what consequences arose from the potentially contradictory approaches and decisions; and what dialogue, if any, took place on this subject between the ministries concerned, competent authorities and agencies;

21. whether the decisions taken and situation assessments produced by authorities in connection with the announced withdrawal of the US armed forces, which led to the withdrawal taking place in the manner that it did, were substantiated and taken or produced in an appropriate manner;

22. whether and to what extent German authorities had contingency plans for Afghanistan so that they could, if necessary, evacuate in time the staff of the German embassy, German citizens, local employees and other affected groups; whether and what organisational and logistical capacities were placed on standby for this by the Federal Government; and whether and what agreements were reached with third countries for this purpose. Furthermore, the inquiry is to examine whether and, if so, at what point in time concrete preparations were made in advance, such as issuing the necessary passports and visas or planning charter flights for German agencies’ local Afghan employees and their immediate families; what coordination on this subject took place within the Federal Government, particularly between the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, and other competent authorities and agencies; and what measures, if any, were taken or not taken when and by whom;

23. whether the employees of the German embassy, of the political foundations, of the implementing organisations in the field of development cooperation and non-governmental organisations, of journalists, and of the missions of the European Union and the UN, as well as other affected groups, were able to be evacuated in time, and how many people, with what backgrounds, entered Germany in the framework of the evacuations;

24. whether employees were promised pay rises in the event that they remained in Afghanistan, and if so, what the aim of this was;

25. which German governmental agencies, and which specific individuals, were involved in the decision taken on 15 August 2021 to carry out a military evacuation, and ultimately prepared, took and implemented this decision;

26. what criteria, if any, applied and normally apply when defining the group of people eligible for evacuation; whether and how the criteria changed over time; what factors were used to draw up priority lists; and who, in the present case, was responsible for such a classification;

27. how the Federal Government’s decision of 22 August 2021 was reached, namely to expand the group of eligible local employees of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and of the Federal Foreign Office to include the years from 2013;

28. whether and to what extent the group of people eligible for evacuation and persons close to them, or their organisations, were supported by German authorities in reaching one of the evacuation flights, or were informed and kept informed by them about opportunities for admission to Germany and travel options; who was responsible for this; and whether and to what extent arrangements were made in advance for this type of measure;

29. whether and to what extent cooperation took place between the ministries responsible and civil-society efforts to get vulnerable people to safety, and what form this took;

30. whether and to what extent German authorities in Afghanistan ensured in the context of the withdrawal and the evacuation that all relevant data and documents were taken along or destroyed;

31. whether and how information about the personal details of German agencies’ local Afghan employees and their immediate families was recorded, and whether the Federal Government took steps, and what these steps were, to ensure that this sensitive data would not fall into the hands of the Taliban;

32. whether and to what extent the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies know whether and, if so, how the Taliban came into possession of the names of local employees who assisted German agencies in their work in Afghanistan, potentially exposing these employees and their family members to a threat to life, limb and property if they remained in Afghanistan;

33. whether and to what extent the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies have calculated the total remaining number, after the official end of the evacuation mission on 26 August 2021, of German citizens, local employees and people from other affected groups, together with their immediate families, who ought to have been evacuated given the high risk to their safety, and why it was not possible to evacuate specifically these local employees and their immediate families in time. The inquiry will also investigate whether efforts were subsequently undertaken to evacuate these people or ensure their safety, and what these efforts were;

34. whether – and if so, what – concrete measures were initiated by the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies after the official end of the evacuation mission on 26 August 2021, or taken before the end of the timeframe to be examined by the inquiry, to protect German citizens, local employees and other affected groups who, in the view of the Federal Foreign Office, are eligible for evacuation or for admission to Germany and who remained behind in Afghanistan following the evacuation mission, and to assist them in leaving Afghanistan; and what criteria were used, following the end of the evacuation mission, in the timeframe to be examined by the inquiry, to define the group of people eligible for assistance from German authorities, and who was responsible for such a classification;

35. whether the Federal Foreign Office or the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community directly took concrete steps to implement rapid and unbureaucratic solutions to issue visas for former local employees of German agencies, their immediate families and other at-risk Afghans, and whether concrete efforts were made and steps were taken – and what these were – by the Federal Foreign Office to make it possible or easier for German agencies’ local Afghan employees and their immediate families to apply for the visa required to enter Germany, in view of the fact that it had no longer been possible for visa applications to be accepted by the German mission in Afghanistan since 2017;

36. whether and to what extent members of the Federal Government or employees of the federal ministries or of competent authorities passed on information available to them about the
emerging and escalating emergency to the German Bundestag and its committees, to third parties in Germany or abroad, and to the public, when they did so and on what scale; and whether the applicable provisions on information security and preservation were upheld within the Federal Government and its authorities;

37. whether and to what extent the federal budget incurred costs as a result of the evacuation mission and the necessity of this mission;

38. whether and to what extent, against the backdrop of the evacuation mission having become necessary, the risk management of the Federal Government and/or its executive agencies has been reviewed and, if necessary, adapted, with the aim of being able to prevent situations of this kind in future, where possible.

IV. The Committee of Inquiry will also examine and provide recommendations, in particular on

1. whether and to what extent lessons can and should be learned from the subject of the present inquiry in relation to the powers, organisation, work, cooperation and error prevention in the ministries of the Federal Government involved and their executive agencies;

2. whether and to what extent lessons can and should be learned by the competent entities in the Federal Government from the subject of the present inquiry in relation to international deployments and missions of the Bundeswehr and of German security authorities and intelligence services – particularly with a view to potential
evacuation operations;

3. whether and to what extent lessons can and should be learned from the subject of the present inquiry in relation to the involvement of the Federal Government in information-sharing and cooperation at European, NATO and international level;

4. whether and to what extent lessons can and should be learned from the subject of the present inquiry in relation to the future work of the Federal Government to prepare for and carry out potential future evacuation operations in coordination with European, NATO and international partners;

5. what lessons can and should be learned about the future approach to and protection of local employees and other affected groups.

Berlin, 21 June 2022
Dr Rolf Mützenich and parliamentary group
Friedrich Merz, Alexander Dobrindt and parliamentary group
Katharina Dröge, Britta Haßelmann and parliamentary group
Christian Dürr and parliamentary group

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