‘What was the matter?’ Afghans regret decades of war as US leaves Bagram

‘What was the matter?’ Afghans regret decades of war as US leaves Bagram

KABUL: As US troops left their main military base in Afghanistan on Friday, marking the symbolic end of the longest war in US history, locals living in the base’s shadow and those in nearby Kabul were stunned.
Violence has erupted across Afghanistan ever since President Joe Biden announced an unconditional withdrawal of troops by September 11.
With the slowing of peace talks in Qatar in recent weeks and the loss of nearly a quarter of the country’s districts to the Taliban, many are concerned that a state of chaos has arisen, a study said.
Malek Mir, a mechanic in Bagram who saw Soviet troops and then Americans coming and going, said he was deeply pained at the futility of the foreign presence.
“They came up with the bombing of the Taliban and got rid of their regime – but they are gone now when the Taliban are so powerful that they will take over any time soon,” he said.
“What was the point of all the destruction, murder and misery they brought us? I wish they never came.”
According to UN records, more than 3,500 foreign soldiers have been killed in the two-decade war, which has claimed more than 100,000 civilians since 2009 alone.
However, some say that the presence of foreign troops has distorted the economy of Afghanistan and it is time for the country to stand on its own.
“The Americans leave a legacy of failure, they have failed to stop the Taliban or corruption,” said Syed Naqibullah, a shop owner in Bagram. “A small percentage of Afghans became so wealthy, while the vast majority still live in extreme poverty.
“In a way, we’re glad they’re gone… We’re Afghans and we’ll find our way.”
In the nearby capital, the news was a fresh reminder of the growing panic that has gripped many parts of Afghan society, especially in urban areas, since the announcement of Biden’s return in April.
“Everyone is worried that if foreign forces leave Afghanistan, the Taliban will take over. What will we do then?” asked Jumrai Wafa, a shopkeeper from Kabul.
Wafa and others described signs of a slowdown in business and many urban residents trying to flee the country, with hundreds of embassies seeking visas outside.
Mujada, a 22-year-old medical student who asked to be identified by only one name for security reasons, said her family had decided to leave the country due to a drop in security.
She said she wondered what the future awaits women if the Taliban came back to power and restricted women’s access to education, as they did in their previous times in power.
The Taliban say they have changed and will make provisions for women’s rights in line with cultural traditions and religious rules.
Still, Muzda said she felt disheartened and disappointed by the American departure.
“The withdrawal of foreign troops in the current situation is irrational,” she said. “It is now clear that the Americans came here for their own purposes, not to help and cooperate with Afghanistan.”
“I am so sad and disappointed, I had many dreams that will not come true.”

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