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Germany

Germany Boosts Afghan Aid Budget As Violence Rises

Germany's cabinet has approved a funding increase to help rebuild Afghanistan. But with violent attacks also on the rise, some question whether the country is ready for reconstruction -- or still in a state of war.

German soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Afghanistan

German troops are part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan

The plans would increase German aid to Afghanistan from 140 million to 170 euros ($198-240 million).

The funding boost comes amid a surge of violence in the relatively quiet northern regions of Afghanistan. The German government hopes more aid money will make those areas more secure.

"We have to give the [reconstruction] process in Afghanistan a recognizable face," German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said at an international security conference in Berlin on Tuesday, Sept 8.

"We won't be able to win this process militarily," Jung added.

Moving targets

German soldiers riding in Dingo armoured vehicles patrol a road in Afghanistan

Quick Reaction Force patrols have been subject to increasing attacks

Near daily attacks in Afghanistan underscore how precarious the situation there is.

On Tuesday, three US soldiers were killed in the Eastern part of the country, bringing the total number of foreign troop casualties in 2008 to 201.

And the German Defense Ministry said one of its bases in the Northern Afghan city of Kunduz had come under rocket attack on Sunday.

That followed two other militant attacks on Saturday -- a suicide bombing and a roadside bomb aimed at a convoy of Bundeswehr vehicles near Mazar-i-Sharif. No soldiers or bystanders were injured in those incidents.

Vocabulary of violence

Defence Minister Jung speaks with a German soldier serving in Afghanistan

Defence Minister Jung says his troops are not at war

Defence Minister Jung has acknowledged that there have been “significantly more attacks” against German soldiers in recent weeks. But he has insisted that troops serving in Afghanistan are not caught up in a “war."

The German Armed Forces Federation disagrees with that assessment.

Following the death of a young German paratrooper at the end of August and the first civilian casualties at the hands of German soldiers a few days later, the federation's chairman Colonel Bernhard Gertz told reporters that the mission in Afghanistan was nothing other than a "war against a fanatical enemy willing to do anything".

In October, politicians in Berlin are due to debate plans for a new parliamentary mandate that would increase the number of German troops in Afghanistan from 3,500 to 4,500.

"So many mistakes"

As the world remembers the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks this week, escalating violence in Afghanistan, which was invaded by a US-led coalition force two months after the attacks, has many worried.

The former EU envoy to Afghanistan on Tuesday slammed NATO and US-led operations in the country, saying there is no coherent strategy and progress is unlikely while George W. Bush remains US president.

In a BBC interview to be aired Tuesday, Francesc Vendrell lamented that "so many mistakes" were made after the US-led invasion in 2001 and warned that mounting civilian casualties were undermining support for the coalition.

Vandrell said the West had no coherent strategy for victory in Afghanistan, adding the Bush adminstration did not want to make any changes because they want to present the country as a success story.

"We will need to wait, not for very long, for a new administration to be established and at that point we need to reveal our strategy, not only a US strategy but the overall strategy, because clearly what we are doing so far is not going to lead to success," Vandrell said.

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