US troops and their NATO allies left the most important – and last active – military air base used by the US Army in Afghanistan overnight on Thursday, effectively ending major military operations in Afghanistan. that country after almost 20 years of presence. The departure from the air base weeks before the final withdrawal date of the troops foreseen by the Pentagon – mid-July – and long before the one announced by President Joe Biden, on the symbolic day of September 11, sends the message to Americans, just days before July 4, as America’s longest war abroad is drawing to a close.
Amid growing speculation that the remaining contingents could leave earlier than scheduled, Biden recently responded negatively to the question of whether the departure will be finalized soon. “No, we are exactly on the expected trajectory.” Later, again before the journalists, the president seemed to lose patience by inviting the media to ask “negative questions”, although he quickly rectified by changing the phrase and declaring those questions “legitimate”, not negative.
But even after this scuffle, Biden declared, annoyed, that he did not intend to answer “any more questions about Afghanistan” as the celebration was coming up this weekend, a time to “relax and have fun.” “I’ll talk about it next week.” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated at the White House daily press conference that the Administration planned to leave Afghanistan by mid-August.
From Kabul, a senior US security official, quoted by Reuters, assured that “all US soldiers and members of NATO forces have left the Bagram air base.” The information was also confirmed by a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry. “Bagram airport has been officially handed over to the Ministry of Defense. US and coalition forces have fully withdrawn from the base and from now on, Afghan Army forces will protect it and use it to combat terrorism, ”spokesman Fawad Aman wrote on Twitter.
The Taliban said Friday that they “salute and support” the departure of all US and NATO troops from the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, a sign that the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from that country is imminent. “Your complete withdrawal [de Afganistán] it will open the way for Afghans to decide their future for themselves, ”Taliban spokesman Zabihulá Mujahid told AFP.
The US Army has left almost two decades of war behind, which has killed more than 2,300 US military personnel (in addition to nearly 240,000 civilians, more than 70,000 of them civilians). As a Western diplomat in Kabul puts it, quoted by Reuters, the US and its allies “have won many battles, but they have certainly lost the war.”
In Bagram, vital to the operations of the Soviet Union during its 10 years of occupation of the country, American troops buried, as a symbol, a piece of the ruins of what was left of the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks of September 11 that gave rise to the George W. Bush Administration to launch the war against Afghanistan.
However, Biden’s decision has given wings to an already burgeoning Taliban. Some thirty rural regions have fallen into their hands since May 1, when the US began closing some bases and transferring others to the Afghan Army with the aim that, as the president announced at the beginning, all troops Come home for the anniversary of the Al Qaeda attacks that prompted the intervention.
What in the United States is living as the end of an era, in which many soldiers have returned in coffins wrapped in an American flag, the worst omens of the Afghans could come true, since they fear a civil war and the return of the Taliban who ruled from 1996 until the US intervention in 2001.
The facility has long been used to launch warplanes against the Taliban and other jihadist groups and became the headquarters for US Special Operations troops in this conflict. According to a defense official quoted by The Washington Post, Army General Austin Scott Miller, America’s top commander for nearly three years, remains in charge and retains the ability to protect American troops while the withdrawal continues.