The Jerusalem Post

As West packs up, Afghans ‘manage the consequenc­es’


KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan scrap dealers are picking over the detritus of the two-decade US military interventi­on in Afghanista­n, collecting whatever they can of value from heaps of broken military hardware, scrapped machines and old furniture.

While the scrap men search through junk outside the main US base in Afghanista­n, the Afghan government, and the country as a whole, are having to face up to the end of an internatio­nal mission that promised so much but failed to bring peace.

“There’s just so much waste,” said scrap dealer Abdul Ahmad, outside the Bagram Airfield, about 50 km. north of the capital, Kabul, as he surveyed the pickings.

“They didn’t do anything for us since they came and now they’re leaving us with an uncertain future and so much destructio­n.”

Over Afghanista­n’s decades of war, the Bagram air base has been a grand prize for whoever holds the upper hand in the fight.

Now US forces will hand it over to Afghan government forces as they face a surging war with the Taliban and questions swirl about their prospects.

Guards in body armor still control the heavily fortified entrance to Bagram – a favorite target for suicide bombers over the years – and helicopter­s clatter overhead and an occasional truck comes and goes.

But few people remain in the expanse of prefab facilities that grew up alongside the giant runway in the months and years after internatio­nal forces arrived in late 2001, as the defeated Taliban fled from US bombers to mountains on the Pakistani border.

Two US security officials said this week the majority of US military personnel would most likely be gone by July 4, with a

residual force remaining to protect the embassy.

Many Afghans, like Ahmad, feel abandoned.

Last month, US President Joe Biden told his Afghan counterpar­t, Ashraf Ghani, that “Afghans are going to have to decide their future, what they want.”

Ghani said his job was now to “manage the consequenc­es” of the US withdrawal.

This week, General Austin Miller, the top US commander in Afghanista­n, acknowledg­ed the rapid loss of several districts to the Taliban was worrisome. Only “a political settlement” could establish peace among the warring Afghan sides, he said.


them NATO members, who have been supporting its efforts in Afghanista­n, are also packing up and getting out at the end of a mission that at its height was hailed as a worthy example of NATO unity and cooperatio­n, and as a model for its operations.

The German military this week concluded its withdrawal, finishing Germany’s deadliest military mission since World War II.

In northern Afghanista­n, Camp Marmal was the biggest German armed forces base outside their homeland. Its once bustling cafes, gyms, salon, handicraft shops, hospital and entertainm­ent zones are all shut.

German forces shipped home the equivalent of about 800 containers of equipment including armored vehicles, helicopter­s,

weapons and ammunition. Even a 27-ton war memorial was shipped to the German armed forces’ joint operations command in Potsdam.

The base has been handed over to Afghan forces.

Brigadier General Ansgar Meyer, the commander of German forces in Afghanista­n, told Reuters in an interview before the German’s withdrawal that the hospitalit­y of the Afghan people under the most difficult circumstan­ces was something everyone could learn from.

“This is still one of the poorest countries in the world but the immense friendline­ss with which Afghans welcome anyone is amazing,” he said. “These are characteri­stic traits that we in Europe might want to copy.”

 ?? (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) ?? AN AFGHAN worker prepares to burn a pile of illegal drugs and alcohol in the outskirts of Kabul yesterday.
(Omar Sobhani/Reuters) AN AFGHAN worker prepares to burn a pile of illegal drugs and alcohol in the outskirts of Kabul yesterday.

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