BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Still surrounded by concrete walls and razor wire, the Bagram Airfield, also known as Bagram Airbase, had been home to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the past 20 years.
The airbase was handed over to the Afghan forces early this month.”Nothing important was left at the airbase,” Gen. Mir Assadullah Kohistani, now commander of the airbase, told Xinhua.
“The U.S. forces destroyed all the facilities and military equipment that the Afghan forces could not use or their shifting to America was expensive.”
Piles of trash heaped up at the airbase are to be sold to local dealers, said Gul Mohammad, a scrap dealer in Bagram.But the real mess the U.S. troops have left behind in the country is triggering concern across the world.
U.S. President Joe Biden in April ordered the complete withdrawal of the country’s troops from the war-torn Afghanistan by Sept. 11 this year, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that precipitated the so-called U.S. war on terror.
Claiming to be in pursuit of Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, the U.S.-led military forces invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban within weeks of the terror attacks.
With over 90 percent of the withdrawal being completed now, Biden said that the mission was to be concluded by Aug. 31, a few days ahead of the original deadline.
Taliban militants have been more active since the withdrawal of the U.S. troops at the beginning of May, resulting in the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
According to a Taliban source, the group now controls 85 percent of Afghanistan’s territory. A visiting Taliban delegation to Moscow said on Friday that their militias have controlled 250 out of 398 districts in the country, though the claims cannot be verified so far.
The hasty withdrawal is widely regarded as a defeat for the United States, both in Afghanistan and throughout the region.
The United States invaded Afghanistan under the pretext of fighting terrorism in late 2001 and dethroned the Taliban regime and its alleged supporter al-Qaida network, Atequllah Omarkhil, a retired army general as well as a military and political analyst, told Xinhua.
According to Omarkhil, only the Taliban and al-Qaida were operational in Afghanistan in 2001. Today more than 20 militant groups, including the Islamic State, are active.Twenty years later, the United States left Afghanistan with fighting and violence still ravaging the country, the retired army general said.The legacy of the U.S.-led forces’ 20-year presence in Afghanistan is nothing more than brutal fighting and insurgency, he said, adding that the “ongoing war and destruction are the outcome of the U.S.-led military invasion.
“The United States termed its mission in Afghanistan as a defensive maneuver against terrorists, and the mission was supposed to bring peace to Afghanistan and help the Afghans establish a stable society. The Pentagon claimed recently that over 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed and 20,000 others wounded in Afghanistan over the past two decades.
The most conservative estimates by local and international rights groups suggest that close to 47,600 civilians have been killed and more than double that number injured in Afghanistan during the 20 years of war, according to figures from the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
The whole affair has been a brutal fiasco, serving no perceptible purpose and achieving nothing at all.
“After Vietnam, Afghanistan is the second country that the U.S. military is leaving after suffering military defeat,” Khan Mohammad Daneshjo, an analyst, told Xinhua.
“The U.S. defeat and its troops’ departure from Afghanistan would further increase the already fierce fighting in the conflict-plagued country,” Daneshjo said.
The U.S. mission in Afghanistan asserted it was to annihilate terrorists, bring about peace and help Afghans establish a peaceful and prosperous society, but fighting has been continuing and Afghans are still suffering, said the analyst.
The Bilateral Security Agreement inked between the United States and Afghanistan years ago was a commitment by Washington to defend Afghanistan “whenever needed,” an obligation conveniently overlooked during the withdrawal, Daneshjo said, adding that the United States has left Afghanistan at war with itself, a war characterized by insurgency, fear and poverty.
The United States and the Taliban signed a peace deal in February last year, calling for a gradual withdrawal of the U.S. troops on condition that the Taliban cut ties with terrorist groups. With vicious fighting still a daily occurrence following the deal, negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, including the latest round in Iran, have made no palpable progress.
“The security situation in the country has turned from bad to worse with the withdrawal of troops especially from Bagram airbase,” Amin Agha, a Kabul resident, told Xinhua.
The United States, in disregard of its responsibilities and obligations, hastily withdrew from Afghanistan, leaving a mess and turmoil to the Afghan people and regional countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular press conference on Friday.
“This further exposed the hypocritical face of the United States under the cover of ‘defending democracy and human rights,'” he said.