The twisted remains of several military all-terrain vehicles littered Baba Mir’s scrap metal business, along with pieces of what were once generators and tank wheel tapes that have been dismantled, as well as tents that were cut and cut. they are now just pieces of canvas.

This is American military equipment. The Americans are dismantling Bagram Air Base, their largest remaining facility in Afghanistan, and everything they don’t take home is being destroyed and reduced to rubble.

They do it for safety, so that the team does not fall into the hands of militiamen. Mir and other junk dealers in the area, on the other hand, see an irritating waste.

“They are betraying the Afghans. It’s okay for them to leave,” he said. “When they destroy this vehicle, they destroy us.”

The few thousand US and NATO soldiers remaining in the country are packing their bags, ending their 20-year presence in the country. They face a huge logistical task by erecting their bases throughout the national territory. They leave behind a frustrated and annoyed population.

Afghans feel abandoned, condemned to carry a legacy they attribute in part to the Americans: an extremely corrupt US-backed government and growing instability, which could usher in a brutal new phase of civil war.

The scrap dealers’ bitterness responds in part to this discomfort and also to the fact that they would have benefited more from having been able to sell intact equipment.

This is a recurring theme of the last two decades, traumatic and destructive, in which the US measures only caused disappointment.

In Bagram, northwest of the capital Kabul, and in other bases, US forces are preparing tens of thousands of metal containers in which they will send equipment to their country in C-17 planes. 60 flights with equipment have already departed.

The US authorities are secretive about what goes and what stays. All advanced equipment is being taken, according to US and Western officials who asked not to be identified to comment on the matter.

The Afghan security forces would receive some helicopters, military vehicles, weapons and ammunition. They also inherit some bases, including one in Helmand province, where the Taliban control 80% of the territory in that rural area.

Equipment and vehicles that cannot be repaired or delivered to Afghans due to their poor condition will be scrapped.

The practice is not new. The same was done in 2014, when thousands of soldiers withdrew and left the security of the country in the hands of Afghan forces. On that occasion, 176 million kilograms (387 million pounds) of equipment was scrapped and vehicles were sold to Afghans for $46.5 million, a US spokeswoman said at the time.

Last month, US President Joe Biden said his country was ending the “endless war”. Mir paid $40,000 for a container with 70 tons of destroyed equipment.

He’ll make some money, he told the Globe Live Media, but far less than he could have made if they left the equipment intact, even if it didn’t work. The parts of the vehicles could have been sold to auto repair shops across the country, he said.

Sadat, another Bagram scrap dealer who gave only one name, said there are stores across the country full of ruined American equipment.

“They left us nothing,” he complained. “They don’t trust us. They destroyed our country. They only brought destruction.”

A Western official with knowledge of what is happening said the United States faces a dilemma: Hand over equipment in poor condition but intact to Afghans and run the risk of it falling into enemy hands, or turn it into scrap and cause unrest among the Afghans.

He recounted a case that occurred not long ago, in which US forces found two Humvees in enemy hands. They had been fixed and were full of explosives. They were destroyed by US troops, and the episode reinforced the belief that the remaining equipment in Afghanistan should be destroyed.

Scrap metal dealers, however, wonder what danger the objects they saw in a shed could represent: an unarmed treadmill, fire hoses that were cut into pieces, or the bags of sand once used to erect walls, the strong mesh of which has been destroyed.

“They wiped out the country and now they leave us their garbage,” said Hajji Gul, another gray-bearded scrap metal dealer. “What do we do with this?”.

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