by Zia Sarhadi
The manner in which American troops fled Bagram air base outside Kabul in the middle of the night showed how terrified they were of being attacked and killed by the Taliban.
To make sure their departure was not noticed, the Americans turned off electricity at the base, before heading to Kabul airport in the middle of the night of July 1-2.
“The US left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, Afghan military officials said,” according to Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press (AP).
Even the Afghan guards at the entrance to the sprawling air base did not know the Americans they were guarding had fled.
Once they had arrived safely at Kabul airport, to their great relief one might add, the Americans called the Afghan military commanders informing them that they were there.
When asked about their slinking out of the base that was the centre of US power projection in Afghanistan for 20 years, Colonel Sonny Leggett, the official spokesman for US military in Afghanistan, did not address the specific complaints of many Afghan soldiers.
This further demoralized the already shaken Afghan soldiers that are surrendering en masse to the Taliban in different parts of the country.
Earlier today, the Tajikistan military announced that it had given refuge to 1,037 Afghan soldiers that had fled across the border into the Central Asian republic.
The troops retreated over the border to “save their own lives”, according to a statement by Tajikistan’s border guard.
The new Afghan commander of Bagram air base, Brigadier Mir Asadullah Kohistani discovered only in the morning of July 2 that the Americans had fled.
“We [heard] some rumour that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by 7:00 in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” Kohistani was quoted by the Associated Press.
The haste with which the Americans fled the base, the Afghan army did not have the chance to take control of the airfield.
Looters ransacked barracks and rummage through storage tents.
The Americans had left behind dozens of vehicles obviously fearing driving them out of the base would have attracted attention.
Hundreds of Afghan security personnel moved into the barracks that once housed US soldiers.
“In one night they lost all the goodwill of 20 years by leaving the way they did, in the night, without telling the Afghan soldiers who were outside patrolling the area,” said Afghan soldier Naematullah.
Perhaps, the Afghans that had relied on the Americans should have realized how unreliable Uncle Sam is.
They have discovered this through bitter experience now.
Will the US-installed puppet, Ashraf Ghani, and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, also learn the bitter truth of American unreliability?
They are on their own. Instead of hanging around in Kabul they should be seeking alternative accommodation now before it is too late.
The speed with which the Taliban are capturing districts across Afghanistan, they will soon be at the gates of Kabul.
By then it will be too late for Ghani and Abdullah to flee.
The time to flee is now, if they want to have a remote chance of survival.