As the US starts pulling combat troops from Afghanistan, locals who have worked for the occupation forces are worried about their fate once the US leaves.
According to a report from Bloomberg Law, the Pentagon has just under 17,000 contractors employed in Afghanistan. In January, the US military said there were about 4,700 Pentagon contractors in Afghanistan that were hired locally.
Unsurprisingly, the Taliban has threatened many of the Afghan contractors that have been supporting the US war effort. Speaking to Afghanistan’s Tolo News, the contractors said they are calling on the Biden administration to take them out of Afghanistan and grant them asylum in either the US or Europe.
Mohammad Arif Ahmadzai, one of the contractors, told Tolo that he’s been working for the US for 10 years and that he’s been threatened by the Taliban many times. “What will be our fate? Obviously, death,” he said. “We will face tough conditions if we are not taken out of the country.”
While President Biden said he’s pulling all combat troops out by September 11th, the US plans to continue supporting the Afghan military financially. On Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US was looking at what sort of “contractual” support it will give the Afghan military after the withdrawal.
Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, has said contractors who are US citizens will be leaving along with combat troops. But he left open the possibility of continuing to employ contractors of other nationalities.
Many Afghan contractors spoke with Tolo and said they want to leave now that US troops are withdrawing, a sign that they have no faith in the Afghan government to stand alone, no matter how much money the US gives them. One contractor said, “We should hold a gathering of over 3,000 people outside the US embassy so that we can achieve our right.”