Era ends, war looms as US forces leave main base in Afghanistan
US troops withdrew from their main military base in Afghanistan on Friday, leaving behind a piece of the World Trade Center that they buried 20 years ago in a country that the US commander said could slide into war civil without them. “All US soldiers and NATO forces have left Bagram Air Base,” a senior US security official said on condition of anonymity.
US President Joe Biden said the withdrawal was “on track” but that some US forces will still be in Afghanistan in September as part of a “rational withdrawal with the allies”. Despite this, Bagram’s withdrawal ended the longest war in U.S. history.
The base, an hour’s drive north of Kabul, was where the US military coordinated its air warfare and logistical support for its entire Afghan mission. The Taliban thanked them for leaving. “We regard this withdrawal as a positive step. The Afghans can move closer to stability and peace with the total withdrawal of foreign forces,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Other Afghans were more cautious. “Americans must leave Afghanistan and there should be peace in this country,” said Javed Arman, a resident of Kabul. But he added: “We are in a difficult situation. Most of the people fled their districts and some districts fell. Seven districts of Paktia province fell and are now under Taliban control. For the international forces, of which more than 3,500 were killed in Afghanistan, the exit was done without pomp. A Western diplomat in Kabul said Washington and its NATO allies had “won many battles, but lost the war in Afghanistan.”
It was in Bagram, in a plain bordered by the snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush, that New York firefighters and police buried a piece of the World Trade Center in December 2001, a few days after the overthrow of the Taliban. for hosting Osama ben Chargé. ‘BLACK SITE’
It is also here that the CIA operated a “black site” detention center where terrorism suspects were subjected to abuses that President Barack Obama later recognized as torture. The base then expanded into a sprawling walled city for a huge international military force, with fast food outlets, gyms, and a cafe serving something called “the mother of all coffee shops.” Two tracks roared perpetually. The presidents flew in and gave speeches; celebrities came to tell jokes.
An Afghan official said the base would be officially handed over in a ceremony on Saturday. The US defense official said General Austin Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan “retains all capabilities and authorities to protect the force” stationed in the capital, Kabul.
Miller told reporters this week that the civil war in Afghanistan was “certainly a path that can be visualized,” as Taliban fighters have gained territory in recent weeks as foreign troops return home. Two other US security officials said this week that the majority of US military personnel would most likely be gone by July 4, with a residual force remaining to protect the embassy.
It would be more than two months ahead of schedule set by Biden, who had promised they would return home on September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attack that brought them to Afghanistan. Biden said he believes the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, with whom he spoke at the White House last week, has the capacity to resist recent Taliban advances. But he said Ghani’s government should deal with “internal issues,” an apparent reference to infighting between rival political factions.
“CONSEQUENCES” Washington has agreed to withdraw as part of a deal negotiated last year under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden has rejected the generals’ advice to hang on until a political deal can be reached between the insurgents and Ghani’s US-backed government.
Biden told Ghani in Washington last week that Afghans now have to decide their own future. Ghani said his job now was to “deal with the consequences” of the US withdrawal. In return for the US withdrawal, the Taliban promised not to allow international terrorists to operate from Afghan soil. They have pledged to negotiate with the Afghan government, but talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, have made little headway.
The US Embassy in Afghanistan said this week that Washington is firmly committed to helping Afghanistan and providing $ 3 billion in security assistance in 2022. The Taliban is refusing to declare a ceasefire. Afghan soldiers surrender or abandon their posts. The militias that fought the Taliban before the Americans arrived are taking up arms again.
A senior Western diplomat said the United States had asked three Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – to temporarily house around 10,000 Afghans who were working with US or allied forces. Several European countries were also providing refuge for hundreds of Afghan employees and their families as they faced a direct threat from the Taliban.
Since Biden announced that he would continue with Trump’s exit plan, insurgents have progressed across Afghanistan, especially in the north, where for years after their ousting they had a minimal presence.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)