x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

European politicians fear public backlash over Wikileaks

Leaders are concerned the massive leak of secret documents on the Afghan war could lead to public pressure for an early military pullout.

LONDON // Politicians in Europe are concerned that the massive leak of secret documents on the Afghan war could lead to overwhelming public pressure for an early military pullout. Opinion polls in both the United Kingdom and Germany - the two largest contributors to the international force after the United States - already show that a majority of the public do not want their nations' soldiers fighting there. On Tuesday, politicians and military chiefs in both countries were poring over details of the 92,000 US military reports made public by WikiLeaks, a whistle-blower website, amid calls for a wider inquiries into why the nations' soldiers were fighting and dying there.

Angus Robertson, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party in the UK House of Commons, said: "Regardless of how these documents were leaked, they raise immediate questions about operations in Afghanistan which the government must address. "This conflict has now lasted eight years - longer than World War Two - over which time we have heard persistent concerns from senior military figures in both the UK and US questioning the aims and the strategy being pursued in Afghanistan. "This leak amplifies these concerns further and we must have a full review. A major rethink is now essential: one that looks at all the options." Although both David Cameron's and Angela Merkel's governments have tried to play down the significance of the leak, the Germans were particularly annoyed by a suggestion in one of the documents that the "German military stumbled into the conflict with great naivete".

Omid Nouripour, the security spokesman for the environmentalist Greens, told Der Spiegel<, the magazine that published the leaked documents along with The New York Times and The Guardian: "On our reading of the US documents, it is disturbing how little the federal government has informed the parliament about the activities of American special forces in German areas. "We demand an immediate explanation from the federal government as to what they know about the missions. We will push with all force for answers." dsapsted@thenational.ae