The skies over Kabul and the nearby Bagram airbase registered an unusual flow of US helicopters in charge of preparing this withdrawal, which will conclude on September 11, the date of the 20th anniversary of the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
The United States officially begins this Saturday with the withdrawal of its last soldiers from Afghanistan, which, when completed, will mark the end of a 20-year war but will open a period of great uncertainty due to the growing imprint of the Taliban.
In fact, according to US officials in Afghanistan, the evacuation process is already underway, and the May 1 date is well above the mark. This is the deadline set in the agreement signed in February 2020 in Doha, Qatar, with the Taliban by the former administration of Donald Trump that provides for such withdrawal.
In recent days, the skies over Kabul and the nearby Bagram airbase registered an unusual flow of US helicopters tasked with preparing this withdrawal; September 11 marks the 20th anniversary of the 2001 attacks in the United States.
NATO allies began on Thursday to withdraw contingents from the Resolute Support mission, which must be done in coordination with Washington.
US President Joe Biden confirmed in mid-April the withdrawal of the 2,500 soldiers still present in Afghanistan.
"The time has come to put an end to the longest war in the United States," he declared, estimating that the objective of the intervention, which was to prevent Afghanistan from serving as a base for attacks against his country, was fulfilled.
The United States intervened in Afghanistan in the wake of the 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon. And he expelled from power the Taliban, accused of having given shelter to the nebula jihadist Al Qaida responsible for the attacks before the conflict stalled.
At the height of their presence, in 2010-2011, there were some 100,000 US servicemen deployed. More than 2,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Afghans lost their lives in the conflict.
Since the Doha Accords were signed, the Taliban have refrained from directly attacking foreign forces. But they had no mercy on government troops, who harass them in rural areas while continuing to terrorize the population of big cities with targeted killings.
The announcement of the withdrawal of the Americans had only aggravated the fear of the Afghans, who fear that the Taliban will return to power and impose the fundamentalist regime they established when they ruled between 1996 and 2001.
- Chaos is not excluded -
Mena Nowrozi, a worker for private radio Kabul, told AFP Everyone is scared to go back to the dark days of the Taliban period. The Taliban are the same; they have not changed. The United States should have lived for at least a year or two.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani assures that government troops, who after several months are fighting alone on the ground - albeit with US air support - are "fully capable" of resisting the insurgents.
Ghani also believes that the US withdrawal means that the Taliban will run out of excuses to continue fighting. Who are they killing? What do they destroy? Now the pretext of killing foreigners is over, "he snapped this week in a speech.
But US Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley acknowledged on Wednesday that total chaos could not be ruled out. He acknowledged In the worst-case scenario, we would have the end of the Afghan government, the end of the Afghan army, the civil war, the ensuing humanitarian catastrophe, and the possible return of al Qaeda.
Abdul Malik, a policeman from Kandahar (south), in a province that is one of the historic fiefdoms of the Taliban, assured AFP that the armed forces are ready. He said We have to defend our homeland. We will do everything reasonable to guard our land.
There is no guarantee that the Taliban will not strike US or NATO troops during the removal. If they do, they will "to blood the nose of a defeated enemy and to humiliate him a little more," says independent expert Nishank Motwani.
For Andrew Watkins, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, the next few weeks will allow the Afghan army and the Taliban "to fight and evaluate the adversary without the additional factor that was the United States.