First modification: 07/02/2021 – 15:26
After two decades of occupation, the US military leaves Bagram. The eviction marks a milestone in the promise of the Americans to remove their soldiers from the country and leaves multiple questions about internal security, amid a spike in violent events.
Both the US forces and the Afghan Defense Ministry confirmed on July 2 that the US country’s troops left Bagram, one of the most important military bases in the Asian country, located 70 kilometers north of Kabul, the capital.
With the withdrawal, the ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) took control of the place. This was confirmed by a Ministry spokesman to EFE, who said that “all the coalition and US troops left Bagram Air Base last night.” The source added that “ANDSF will protect the base and use it to fight terrorism.”
The withdrawal of US forces from the military base is seen as one of the most important steps the US military has taken to fulfill President Joe Biden’s promise to withdraw about 3,500 troops from Afghan territory.
The initiative grew out of a peace treaty promoted by the previous US government with the Taliban in Doha. Biden announced “the end of America’s longest war” on April 14 of this year.
It is time to end America’s longest war.
It is time for American troops to come home from Afghanistan.
– President Biden (@POTUS) April 14, 2021
The eviction process began on May 1 and is expected to end on September 11, a date with high symbolism as it is the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, perpetrated by the Taliban and which led to the US offensive in Afghanistan under the mandate of George W. Bush.
Even so, it remains unclear how the process will take place. According to AP, the United States government has not announced when the last American soldier will leave due to the worrying security situation in the country.
In addition, a joint airport protection initiative is being negotiated with the Afghan Government and Turkish forces. The United States is expected to leave at least 600 soldiers to defend its embassy.
Like the US forces, the troops of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have already begun to evacuate their 7,000 military personnel.
The withdrawal was called a “positive step” by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
We consider evacuation of all US forces from #Bagram a positive step & seek withdrawal of foreign forces from all parts of the country. Such is in the interest of both them & Afghans.
Afghans can move closer to peace & security with complete withdrawal of foreign forces https://t.co/vJXUjmPxqk
– Zabihullah (..ذبـــــیح الله م) (@ Zabehulah_M33) July 2, 2021
However, Zabihullah declared that “wherever the invaders have gone, they leave a trail of destruction” and stated that they will remain vigilant for some kind of “deception”.
The US withdrawal leaves multiple questions about the future of Afghanistan. While General Austin Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan, warns of the possibility of civil war, Afghan citizens like scrap dealer Abdul Ahmad worry about the stability of the country.
“They did nothing for us since they arrived and now they leave us with an uncertain future and so much destruction,” he told Reuters.
It should be remembered, and according to a UN reportBy 2019, 3,403 civilians had died and 6,989 were injured. What’s more, International Amnesty reports that the armed conflict led to an increase in internally displaced persons. On the other hand, the Save the Children Organization reported that between 2005 and 2019 at least 26,025 children have been killed or maimed in Afghanistan.
Why is Bagram so important?
Two decades of US occupation of Bagram made it a strategic location for military action. The base became the most important airfield for the US forces and the headquarters of the Special Operations troops.
From there, American planes took off in their offensives against the Taliban. In addition, it had a gigantic airstrip of more than 3.5 kilometers to which international forces arrived. According to the AP, it had 100,000 soldiers in 2012.
The base also has three hangars, a control tower, a hospital, a notary and even a prison.
The critical security situation in Afghanistan
Bagram’s eviction comes amid escalating violence in the country. Since May 1, when the US withdrawal began, the Taliban have occupied approximately 80 of the country’s 407 provinces.
Concern about the advance of the Taliban has led the Afghan government to reestablish militias with a high violent record.
General Miller acknowledged that such occupation is worrying and that the only way out would be through a “political agreement” that leads to peace between the government and the Taliban.
However, the violence promoted by both sides calls into question the possibility of ending in a peaceful way a war that has lasted for decades.
With AP, EFE and Reuters