First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Era ends, war looms as U.S. forces quit main base in Af...

Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Era ends, war looms as U.S. forces quit main base in Afghanistan

epa03366529 A handout picture taken 17 November 2011 and made available by the International Security Assistance Force on 21 August 2012 shows aircraft from the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, near Kabul, Afghanistan. Two rockets fired at a US airbase in Afghanistan early 21 August 2012 damaged the aircraft used by the top US general Martin Dempsey and injured two maintenance crew. Dempsey was on a two-day visit to Afghanistan in the wake of series of attacks suffered by the NATO-led coalition from Afghan soldiers and police. EPA/ISAF HANDOUT
By Reuters
02 Jul 2021 0

KABUL, July 2 (Reuters) - American troops pulled out of their main military base in Afghanistan on Friday, leaving behind a piece of the World Trade Center they buried 20 years ago in a country that the top U.S. commander has warned may descend into civil war without them.

* Soviet-built air strip became vast U.S. base

* Only U.S. embassy protection force to stay

* Taliban sweeping into districts as foreign troops pull out

* Ends war launched after Sept. 11 attacks

“All American soldiers and members of NATO forces have left the Bagram air base,” said a senior U.S. security official on condition of anonymity.

Though a few more troops have yet to withdraw from another base in the capital Kabul, the Bagram pullout brings an effective end to the longest war in American history.

The base, an hour’s drive north of Kabul, was where the U.S. military has coordinated its air war and logistical support for its entire Afghan mission. The Taliban thanked them for leaving.

“We consider this withdrawal a positive step. Afghans can get closer to stability and peace with the full withdrawal of foreign forces,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.

Other Afghans were more circumspect: “The Americans must leave Afghanistan and there should be peace in this country,” said Kabul resident Javed Arman. “We are in a difficult situation. Most people have fled their districts and some districts have fallen. Seven districts in Paktia province have fallen and are now under Taliban control.”

It was at Bagram, by a bullet-ridden Soviet-built air strip on a plain hemmed in by the snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush, that New York City firefighters and police were flown to bury a piece of the World Trade Center in December, 2001, days after the Taliban were toppled for harbouring Osama bin Laden.

It was also here that the CIA ran a “black site” detention centre for terrorism suspects and subjected them to abuse that President Barack Obama subsequently acknowledged as torture.

Later it swelled into a sprawling fortified city for a huge international military force, with fast food joints, gyms and a cafe serving something called “the mother of all coffees”. Two runways perpetually roared. Presidents flew in and gave speeches; celebrities came and told jokes.

An Afghan official said the base would be officially handed over to the government at a ceremony on Saturday.

The U.S. defence official said General Austin Miller, the top U.S.commander in Afghanistan “still retains all the capabilities and authorities to protect the force” stationed in the capital, Kabul.

Earlier this week, Miller told journalists in Kabul that civil war for Afghanistan was “certainly a path that can be visualised”, with Taliban fighters sweeping into districts around the country in recent weeks as foreign troops flew home.

Two other U.S. security officials said this week the majority of U.S. military personnel would most likely be gone by July 4, with a residual force remaining to protect the embassy.

That would be more than two months ahead of the timetable set by Biden, who had promised they would be home by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the attack that brought them here.

Washington agreed to withdraw in a deal negotiated last year with the Taliban under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, and Biden rejected advice from generals to hang on until a political agreement could be reached between the insurgents and the U.S.-backed Kabul government of President Ashraf Ghani.

 

“MANAGE THE CONSEQUENCES”

Last week, Ghani visited Washington. Biden told him: “Afghans are going to have to decide their future, what they want”. Ghani said his job was now to “manage the consequences” of the U.S. withdrawal.

In exchange for the U.S. withdrawal, the Taliban have promised not to allow international terrorists to operate from Afghan soil. They made a commitment to negotiate with the Afghan government, but those talks, in the Qatari capital Doha, made little progress.

In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan this week said the United States was firmly committed to assist Afghanistan and will provide security assistance of $3 billion in 2022. “We urge an end to violence, respect for the human rights of all Afghans and serious negotiations in Doha so that a just and durable peace may be achieved,” the embassy stated.

The Taliban refuse to declare a ceasefire. Afghan soldiers have been surrendering or abandoning their posts. Militia groups that fought against the Taliban before the Americans arrived are taking up arms to fight them again.

A senior western diplomat said the U.S. has asked three Central Asian nations – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – to temporarily provide home to about 10,000 Afghan citizens who had either worked with the U.S. or allied forces.

Several European nations were also providing refuge to hundreds of Afghan employees and their families as they faced direct threat from the Taliban.

Since Biden’s announcement that he would press ahead with Trump’s withdrawal plan, insurgents have made advances across Afghanistan, notably in the north, where for years after their ouster they had a minimal presence.

Fighting was intensifying between government forces and the Taliban in the northeastern province of Badakshan, officials said on Friday. (Reporting by Afghanistan bureau Writing by Peter Graff)

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted