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The Onion 'Predicted' US Military Slipping Away From Afghanistan Base at Night, 10 Years Ago

Screengrab from The Onion/Associated Press.

Screengrab from The Onion/Associated Press.

Within 20 minutes of the U.S.’s silent departure from Afghanistan on Friday, the electricity was shut down and the base was plunged into darkness.

Life imitates art - even if that art is sometimes parody. The Onion, a popular American satirical digital media company and newspaper organization that publishes articles on international, national, and local news is known for its too-close-to-home articles. Completely satire, the stories, however, mirror a very dystopian, almost-real scenario. And a 2011 article about the US troops in Afghanistan, may have crossed the line of satire and turned very much real - just 10 years later. On July 6, 2021 The U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, Afghan military officials told Associated Press.

The satirical article from The Onion, published on July 18, 2021, reads “In what officials said was the “only way" to move on from what has become a “sad and unpleasant" situation, all 100,000 U.S. military and intelligence personnel crept out of their barracks in the dead of night Sunday and quietly slipped out of Afghanistan. U.S. commanders explained their sudden pullout in a short, handwritten note left behind at Bagram Airfield, their largest base of operations in the country."

“According to firsthand accounts, the 90,000 American troops stationed in Afghanistan lay in their beds pretending to be asleep until well after midnight Tuesday. They then reportedly tiptoed out to a fleet of awaiting Humvees, tanks, armored cars, and stealth aircraft; gently eased the doors shut; and departed as silently as possible so as not to wake the 30- million-person nation," the satire continued.

This wasn’t too far-off from what really happened. Afghanistan’s army showed off the sprawling air base Monday, providing a rare first glimpse of what had been the epicenter of America’s war to unseat the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaida perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on America. The U.S. announced Friday it had completely vacated its biggest airfield in the country in advance of a final withdrawal the Pentagon says will be completed by the end of August.

“We (heard) some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by seven o’clock in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, Bagram’s new commander told Associated Press.

A tweet comparing the two articles also went viral - for the strange power of propechy.

Within 20 minutes of the U.S.’s silent departure on Friday, the electricity was shut down and the base was plunged into darkness, Raouf, the soldier of 10 years who has also served in Taliban strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar provinces told Associated Press. The sudden darkness was like a signal to the looters, he said. They entered from the north, smashing through the first barrier, ransacking buildings, loading anything that was not nailed down into trucks. On Monday, three days after the U.S. departure, Afghan soldiers were still collecting piles of garbage that included empty water bottles, cans and empty energy drinks left behind by the looters.

Kohistani, meanwhile, said the nearly 20 years of U.S. and NATO involvement in Afghanistan was appreciated but now it was time for Afghans to step up.

“We have to solve our problem. We have to secure our country and once again build our country with our own hands,” he said.

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first published:July 08, 2021, 12:34 IST