Trump Wanted to Keep Bagram Base Under US Control After Afghan Withdrawal 'Because of China'
TEHRAN (FNA)- Former US President Donald Trump said that while planning military withdrawal from Afghanistan, he intended to keep the large Bagram air base under Washington control because of its close proximity to Chinese nuclear facilities.
"I was going to leave [Afghanistan], 21 years - that was enough. And I had it down to 2,500 troops and I was going to keep Bagram because of China, not because of Afghanistan. Because they're one hour away from their nuclear nuisance, because that's exactly what it is, that's where they make their nuclear [weapons]," Trump stated in an interview with Fox News.
The former US president believes that now that Bagram is out of US control, China is interested in taking over the air base.
Trump noted that the way in which his successor Joe Biden completed the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan was the "single most embarrassing moment in the history of [the US]".
He added that he was planning to bomb all the other bases in Afghanistan, so that they could not be used after the US pullout.
The ex-president particularly criticised US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley whom he cited as arguing that it would be much cheaper to leave military equipment behind in Afghanistan during the withdrawal than to take it.
"He made one statement that I knew was a terrible statement. He said, 'Sir, it's cheaper to leave the equipment than it is to take it ... We have an airplane that costs $98 million," Trump stated.
Trump also slammed former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, calling him a "crook" for allegedly trying to smuggle more money out of the country than the plane could carry when he was fleeing.
Trump has previously blasted the way the Biden administration was handling the troop withdrawal and the evacuation efforts, and offered his view on how the matter should've been dealt with in order to minimise the chaos,
"First you bring out all of the American citizens. Then you bring out ALL equipment. Then you bomb the bases into smithereens – AND THEN YOU BRING OUT THE MILITARY. You don’t do it in reverse order like Biden and our woke Generals did. No chaos, no death – they wouldn’t even know we left!" he announced.
In early July, Americans sneaked out of the Bagram Air Base in the middle of the night without a goodbye after nearly 20 years. Afghan military officials said they did so in secret, shutting off the electricity and leaving the facility for looters to scavenge before Afghan troops were able to take control of the base again.
While Afghans say that the Americans never consulted them before abandoning the base, Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby claimed that the withdrawal wasn't done "in some sort of shroud of secrecy", but the exact timeline of the troops' departure was not shared beforehand with Afghan officials due to security concerns.
Bagram, which is located about 60 km from Kabul, was subsequently seized by the Taliban, who also released thousands of inmates – both fellow insurgents and Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorists.
On August 15, the Taliban entered the Afghan capital Kabul. Ghani resigned and fled the country to prevent what he described as bloodshed if the militants had to fight for the city. Most countries have since reduced or evacuated their diplomatic missions in Kabul.