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Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

Taliban victory news, a terrorist organization banned in Russia, echoed in my heart with pain. Afghanistan is plummeting into the past, civil war breaks out there again, once again the country is threatened with blockade and famine.

In the fall of 2001, I saw it all with my own eyes. – as a journalist, seconded to the Northern Alliance. It was created by tribal leaders, opposing the Taliban. The soul of the resistance was Ahmad Shah Massoud, for his courage and nobility he was called "Panjshir lion". Enemies, which Osama bin Laden sent, killed him meanly, came 9 September to the house disguised as TV reporters.

Forward
A photo: © Ahmad Shah Masood. Mogila Ahmad Shah Masood (Wikipedia).

And after three days, 11 September, there were terrorist attacks in America, shook the whole world. US government decision to send troops to Afghanistan there, In the north of the country, was greeted without enthusiasm. People in Afghanistan, whatever tribe he is, doesn't like foreigners, who come to them with weapons.

“Alexander the Great himself about Afghanistan in ancient times broke his teeth, we defeated the British, you, the council, made to leave too!» – General Paimon spoke to me with pride, one of the leaders of the Northern Alliance. On the Americans, he, like other members of the resistance movement to the Taliban, he looked at it in two ways - it seems that allies, but still the invaders.

On October 7, 2001, US troops landed in Afghanistan., soon I ended up there too - on that business trip to the war I went together with the artist Gennady Dobrov. We worked in tandem, I wrote reports, and Gena illustrated them with drawings. The pencil in the hands of the artist turned out to be more reliable, than a camera, sometimes I had nowhere to charge the batteries for the camera. October and November, months, when the United States began to deploy its forces to Afghanistan, was the most difficult - there was a terrible famine in the refugee camps in the Northern provinces.

Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

A photo: © Drawing by Gennady Dobrov

The Americans blocked almost all supply routes, foreign and Afghan helicopters and aircraft were prohibited from flying over the territory of the country, and the columns with the cargo were not allowed through the mountain passes.

Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

A photo: © Photo by Grigory Telnov

There were no supplies in the refugee camps, their inhabitants have been supplied from the wheels before: food was handed out from trucks. When supplies stopped, market prices skyrocketed.

Even the men couldn't stand it: desperate father of the family committed suicide, not to see, how his children die of hunger. American warplanes flew high above the camp, refugees looked at them with hope – waited, who will drop food on parachutes. But there was another load on board – bombs. They were dropped somewhere over the mountains, in the territories, which were controlled by the Taliban.

Then they told me, what was the use of those carpet bombing, likely, The US just disposed of old ammunition this way.

Packs of dollars and gold were much more effective weapons.. American advisers - they looked indistinguishable from the locals, appeared everywhere, where NATO units were supposed to go. Negotiated with local elders, bribed warlords.

Spared no money, here is a concrete example: when the americans needed, so that the column with the equipment passes through the gorge without prying eyes, they rented and parked all the cars in the nearest villages. To all requests and promises of foreign reporters to go to that zone, transport owners answered, what the Americans paid them to, to keep them in place.

Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

A photo: © Photo by Grigory Telnov

US Army soldiers were equipped with everything necessary, in our Russian opinion, even unnecessarily. Surprised, that drinking water they then brought with them, from overseas. Explained to us, that's how it should be, so that the personnel do not have indigestion from local water. "The prudent Yankees! - then the thought was beating in my head. – Lesson learned from our combat experience - Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan, especially in the first weeks after arrival, almost all suffered from diarrhea. And many of our fighters fell ill with hepatitis from unclean water. "

Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

A photo: © Drawing by Gennady Dobrov

With all this fancy outfit, the eyes of the American military at checkpoints were frightened: It's clear, newcomers to Afghanistan are always shocked. It's like a time machine - from the cities shining with windows to suddenly find yourself in the Middle Ages, where people wear the same clothes, as their ancestors a thousand years ago, where in mountain villages houses are lit with candles or, at best, with a Pakistani kerosene or Chinese gas lamp.

Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

A photo: © Photo by Grigory Telnov

But the Americans got used to it quickly, contacts with the local population established business. Products from American soldier rations appeared in the markets, cigarettes, and even toilet paper. Army-branded down sleeping bag, by the way, turned out to be very warm and comfortable, I brought him to Moscow, I still have him.

Afghans offered Americans all sorts of souvenirs with local exoticism - knives, signet rings, bracelets. Antiques were in great demand, until American soldiers realized, these are such antique fakes in Afghanistan they make in almost any yard.

In the fall of 2001, I became friends with Abdul Kahar, refugee from Kabul. He studied in the USSR, became an engineer, built himself a villa in the Afghan capital, was a happy father and husband. And dropped everything, to save your life, wife and children. Kahar then told me, that Islamic terrorism cannot be defeated by bombs, that the reasons for it are illiteracy and poverty. I argued with him, convinced, that the NATO army will crush terrorists, wipe out. Abdul disagreed:

“The killed Taliban are being replaced by hundreds, to avenge, this conveyor of fanatics cannot be stopped by military force alone. Taliban believe, that death in war with the infidels is for them – the road to paradise. "

Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

A photo: © Drawing by Gennady Dobrov

Kahar predicted, that the mess in Afghanistan will be long, that Americans need a knot of instability away from the US, to rule the whole world. Spoke, that the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon played into the hands of US politicians, the reason for the invasion of Afghanistan and other countries.

Engineer Kahar was a wise man, just. Twenty years later, the Taliban drove out NATO troops, capturing rich spoils of war. And almost all of Afghanistan, except Panjshir, under the authority of the organization, which in Russia is recognized as terrorist. This is the result of an inglorious war, on which Americans have spent trillions of dollars. Yes, this money could have built so many hospitals and schools, to raise a new generation of healthy, educated people, who would build a happy life in Afghanistan!

But, apparently, the civil war in that long-suffering region is part of the plans of the US government: such a huge "hot spot" is inflated near the side of Russia and China.

Forward to the past: Afghanistan returned to 20 years ago

A photo: © Photo by Grigory Telnov

Looking at my old pictures from Afghanistan, and the look is attracted by the photo of the boy, whom I met in the fall of 2001. Boy, if he managed to survive, already an adult. Who is he with now – with the Taliban banned from us? Or maybe, tried to get on a plane in Kabul? Or maybe, already an emigrant somewhere in Berlin? Soul aches for Afghanistan, I wish his people only one thing - peace.

Grigory Telnov

A source