Syed Khalique Ahmed
NEW DELHI—With the departure of the last US troops after 20 years of occupation, Afghanistan became a ‘free nation’ once again at midnight on Tuesday.
Taliban fighters took control of the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the withdrawal of the last US troops, media reports said.
Afghans described the departure of the US troops as a ‘historic moment’. According to freelancers, in Afghanistan, the Taliban celebrated the moment by offering sajda-e-shukra (prostration of thankfulness) by prostrating at the Kabul airport which the Taliban government forces took control of after the departure of the US forces.
They also fired guns in the air to celebrate their victory over multinational forces led by the United States that fought against the Taliban since October 7, 2001.
This was America’s longest war. More than 2.5 lakh Afghans, including civilians and Taliban fighters, were killed in the two decades of war. According to reports, the US spent over $2 trillion on the Afghan war. About 2400 US troops were also killed.
The US took away over 1.5 lakh Afghan citizens, who were educated people like doctors, engineers and other skilled persons. Many of them worked for the US and the foreign forces as translators and also spies. They felt that they had no future in Afghanistan as they had worked against the Taliban. Many of them fled even without valid travel documents.
However, the end of the war that forced the US to withdraw its forces after an “exit deal” with the Taliban, resulted in a disgrace for the super-power. It proved that the US is no longer a super-power, but a declining power.
However, two decades of war brought destruction to Afghanistan. It is a big challenge for the Taliban to rebuild Afghanistan. No country in the world had ever faced such a huge and powerful army. Afghanistan was the poorest country and the Taliban was the least trained militia with no proper equipment. They fought against the best-trained forces of the world by hiding themselves in the caves of mountains.
Congratulating the Afghans, Taliban spokesman Zabihulla Mujahid said, “The victory belongs to us all”. He also said that the victory was a “lesson for invaders”.
Talking to reporters at the Kabul Airport, he said that the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is now a free and sovereign nation”.
Mujahid also announced that the new Afghanistan wants good relations with the US and the rest of the world. However, the Taliban has also announced that they will not allow the Afghan soil to be used against any nation as was the case during the US occupation.
Weapons and equipment left behind by the US in Afghanistan
There is no exact information about the US military equipment being left behind by the US forces in Afghanistan. According to forbes.com, “The Biden Administration is now hiding key audits on Afghan military equipment”. However, the Forbes report claims that the US spent over $2 trillion in the war on Afghanistan in the last 20 years.
“This week, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com reposted two key reports on the U.S. war chest of military gear in Afghanistan that had disappeared from federal websites,” says the forbes.com quoting OpenTheBooks.com
The dead reports are #1. Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of U.S. provided military gear in Afghanistan (August 2017): reposted report (dead link: report)” and #2. Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) audit of $174 million in lost ScanEagle drones (July 2020): reposted report (dead link: report).
OpenTheBooks.com is an American NGO based in Illinois that posts online all the disclosed spending of every level of government across the United States.
The forbes.com has also quoted a GAO spokesperson saying that the State Department had requested to remove the data on Afghanistan.
However, quoting a Government Accountability Report, forbes.com, in its report published a week ago, says that the US government provided 75,898 vehicles and 208 aircraft to the Afghan Army and security forces between 2003 and 2016. Besides, the US also provided 162,643 communications equipment, 599,690 weapons, 29681 explosive ordnance disposal equipment and 16191 intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance equipment during the same period.
There is no data of weapons and equipment supplied by the US to Afghan forces after 2016.
The US forces, according to reports, have left behind all this equipment and they are in possession of the Taliban government now.