The United States has left its main military base in Afghanistan as part of an accelerated withdrawal that has caused the Taliban to regain territory and fear that the country may fall into chaos.
The Afghan military will take over Bagram Airport, a huge American base that was once a national command center and a huge symbol of the country’s “eternal war”. The closure of the base was announced on Friday, which means that most US troops have left the country.
Approximately 600 soldiers will remain to protect the American diplomatic mission, thereby changing Washington’s role and providing financial and logistical support to Afghanistan from abroad.
The Pentagon is expected to complete a complete withdrawal on September 11, twenty years after U.S. President George W. Bush vowed to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Most European countries have withdrawn their troops, and Germany, Italy and Poland announced last week that their troops have returned home.
As the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated, the Taliban launched a wave of offensives against the Afghan army and civilians, and the US army withdrew.
The peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government that began in September failed to reach a political settlement or ceasefire.
General Austin S. Miller, the US military commander in Afghanistan, warned at a rare press conference last week that the country may be plunged into a worsening civil war.
Mir Haider Afzaly, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Afghan Parliament and Member of Parliament, stated that since May, 80 of the approximately 400 areas in Afghanistan have fallen under the control of the Taliban.
“In recent months, violence and fighting have intensified,” he said. “We need the support of foreign military forces, especially in the aviation and intelligence fields.”
US President Joe Biden promised to support Afghanistan after meeting with President Ashraf Ghani at the White House last month.
Ghani asked for $3.3 billion in security assistance and 3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine. The country has been hit by a surge in infections caused by the Delta variant.
Andrew Watkins, a senior analyst with the non-profit organization International Crisis Group, said: “The biggest practical measure the United States supports will be finances – they pay the entire budget of the armed forces and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.” .
“But their support is also political and psychological; the morale of the Afghan army depends on the feeling that their air force, their supply lines, and their salaries are reliably supported by the United States.”
As of the end of June, the U.S. Central Command has handed over 6 facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense and shipped the equivalent of 800 C-17s out of Afghanistan.