Illustration photo showing members of Luxembourg's military at the army barracks near Diekirch. Photo: Luxembourg army 

Since 2015, Luxembourg has been taking part in Nato’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, which trains, advises and assists Afghan security forces and institutions. It is one of 36 Nato members taking part in the mission, which as of February this year involved more than 9,500 soldiers.

A decision under president Donald Trump to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan prompted Nato partners to end the mission. “On 14 April 2021, recognising that there is no military solution to the challenges Afghanistan faces, the allies decided to start the withdrawal of RSM forces by 1 May 2021,” the organisation said in a statement.

Foreign minister Jean Asselborn in response to a parliamentary question confirmed that Luxembourg’s two soldiers in the region will be withdrawn at the end of May.

Financial support of Afghanistan’s security forces will be upheld. Luxembourg in 2018 committed to spending €4m annually until 2024. The grand duchy’s deployment since 2003 has cost around €7m, Asselborn said.

In addition to military spending, Luxembourg has contributed around €52.5m in development assistance since 2000 via different UN agencies.

“Together with our partners we will remain committed to upholding the political and social achievements of the last 20 years,” Asselborn said. “A lot will depend on the intra-Afghan peace negotiations.”

The Afghanistan government and the Taliban launched negotiations on a peace agreement in September 2020 but so far without success.

Just last week, Afghan forces and Taliban fighters clashed in Helmland province. The incident came shortly after an explosion at a mosque in Kabul killed at least 12 worshippers with more injured in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.

“The level of violence in the country continues to be unacceptable,” Asselborn said. “The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan wasn’t an easy decision and it’s a decision that bears risks, which Nato will aim to reduce to a minimum.”