Europe’s Axis of Instability: EU Should Prepare for Next Crises in Sahel and Iraq, Borrell Warns

Written by | Thursday, August 26th, 2021

Faced with the West’s Afghanistan blunder — notably the shocking fall of Kabul to the Taliban and the chaotic scenes of international evacuation effort at the airport — Europe needs more than ever before to develop its own military capacity independent of the United States, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell argues. European powers would struggle to evacuate their citizens and Afghan allies before the US ends its operation at Kabul airport, which is likely to be on 31 August, Borrell said in an interview with the media. Several U.S.’ European allies have asked Washington to delay this departure, as NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg confirmed on Friday (20 August), for without the protection of the 6,000 U.S. troops deployed at the airport, European operations may have to cease.
All of this, coupled with fears that a new generation of Afghan refugees may attempt to head to Europe, have revived talk of Europe developing the defence means to act on its own. European policy makers now fear that Kabul will not be a one-off and that future crises in the Sahel region of West Africa or in Iraq could require similar military missions to secure European citizens and interests — perhaps without U.S. support. “The next crises will be in Iraq and the Sahel,” Borrell said, noting that one of his next trips in September will take him to Iraq, Tunisia and Libya. “I regret greatly the way in which things have gone, but no-one asked for the opinion of the Europeans,” Borrell said.“Some countries are going to have to ask themselves questions about an American ally which, as Joe Biden said, doesn’t want to fight other people’s wars for them.“The Europeans don’t have a choice. We must organize ourselves to deal with the world as it is and not the world that we dream of.”
The European Union is already developing what it calls its new “strategic compass”, a framework to provide the 27 member states, acting together, to wield more diplomatic and military muscle and develop more of what France’s President Emmanuel Macron calls “strategic autonomy”.“The situation in Afghanistan is not a success story for the international community,” the European Council President, Charles Michel, tweeted, adding to the already long string of complaints about Europe’s dependence on the US. “We have to analyze how the EU can further deploy capabilities and positively influence international relations to defend its interests. Our EU strategic autonomy remains at the top of our agenda.”For Borrell, this must include a deployable joint military reaction force.“We will propose to give the Union a 50,000-strong expeditionary force, capable of acting in circumstances like we’re seeing in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that “Europe only responds in a crisis. Afghanistan could wake it up. The moment has come to give it a military force capable of fighting if necessary.”

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