Bagram’s Economy Declines in Shadow of Abandoned US Air Force Base

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Bagram (Afghanistan) (AFP) – For years, the sprawling military base of Bagram, just north of Kabul, was a powerful symbol of the United States’ 20-year war in Afghanistan.

The sprawling complex included an air force base that was the linchpin of the US invasion. Prisons where human rights groups claim widespread violations have occurred. and residential areas with swimming pools, cinemas and spas.

But weeks before Washington formally ended its military presence in Afghanistan last August, U.S. forces left the airbase in the middle of the night.

Today, military bases are occupied by the Taliban, who took over the country in a swift offensive as US forces retreated.

The U.S. departure from Bagram wrecked the economy of the nearby town of the same name, demonstrating just how deeply Afghanistan’s fate was tied to war and foreign aid.

“Today I am unemployed. I don’t know much about politics, but the withdrawal of US troops from the base is a huge economic loss,” said Saifulrahman Faizi, one of the town’s 80,000 residents. I was.

When Feiji was employed at the base, he was earning $30 per day. At the time, hundreds of people were queuing outside the premises for hours to get a job.

“No one goes there right now. Everything just crashed and everyone is struggling,” he said.

closed shop

Nowhere is the economic collapse of a town more evident than in the main market.

Closed stores and warehouses line the streets, and sales at stores that remain open are plummeting.

Shah Wali, a 46-year-old grocery store owner, said he used to earn between 20,000 and 30,000 Afghanis ($230 to $340).


Today he can hardly pay the rent.

“Peace has been restored with the Taliban in power, but business is over,” Wali told AFP, clutching a rosary.

At the peak of the U.S. military invasion, Bagram was home to tens of thousands of troops and contractors, and the town served as a hub for a large amount of supplies that served the base.

The airfield was first built by the United States for its Afghan ally during the Cold War in the 1950s.

After the Red Army invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Soviet Union greatly expanded it.

After their withdrawal, the base was controlled by a Moscow-backed government and then by the unstable Mujahideen regime during the civil war in the 1990s.

With the Taliban seizing power last year, the airfield is now under their control.

“Sky City”

When the U.S. military withdrew, much of the military hardware was taken home, but a large amount of civilian equipment was left behind.

For months, the town managed to thrive with a booming scrap business, but residents now say that too is dying.

Shops that used to sell used gym equipment, generators, air conditioners and spare car parts are either closed or taking few orders.

Several houses are now uninhabited and residents have moved to Kabul or elsewhere in search of work.

Many people who worked at the base also fled the country, fearing retaliation from the Taliban.

“Half the people were gone and the town felt very empty,” Feiji said.

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