Prime Minister Erna Solberg has confirmed that the last Norwegian troops stationed in Afghanistan will be leaving this summer. The pull-out has widespread support in Parliament, but Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre still claims it was correct to join US and NATO forces in the war-torn country years ago.
Støre made several trips to Afghanistan himself as foreign minister for Solberg’s predecessor Jens Stoltenberg, who now heads NATO. Støre agreed with Solberg, however, that there are limits to what can be achieved with military force.
Solberg conceded in an address to Parliament last week that perhaps the most important lesson from the long-time presence of US-led troops in Afghanistan is that the conflict there couldn’t be solved with soldiers and military equipment. Norway still has 95 soldiers in the country who will be among the last to leave, since they’re based at a military hospital in Kabul.
Left behind are scores of Afghan civilians who worked for Norwegian and other foreign countries’ troops as interpreters and guides. They now fear for their lives as violence rises in the country and the prospect of civil war looms. “The situation is as unstable as it’s ever been,” claimed Kai Eide, a Norwegian diplomat who formerly served as the UN’s special envoy in Kabul.