An Afghan woman holds her child as she leaves the country at Islam Qala, a town along the border with Iran in the western Herat province of Afghanistan, March 3, 2022. The U.S.-led coalition force's 20-year war in Afghanistan caused poverty and forced hundreds of thousands of Afghans to leave homeland. (Photo by Mashal/Xinhua)
"The U.S. presence solely led to an escalation in violence and terrorism in Afghanistan," said Abdollah Saebi, a 40-year-old Afghan refugee who fled to neighboring Iran following the hasty and chaotic U.S. military pullout in August 2021 to end its 20 years of occupation.
TEHRAN, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Battered and bruised by hardships, Abdollah Saebi, an Afghan in his late 40s, looks much older than his age.
A former teacher and farmer in Afghanistan, Saebi is now a refugee earning a hard living in the Iranian capital of Tehran as a watchman to support his family with four daughters and two sons.
Saebi became a refugee in 2021 when he was forced to flee to neighboring Iran amid the surging violence and instability in his home country following the hasty and chaotic U.S. military pullout in August 2021 to end its 20 years of occupation.
According to the estimates released by the Iranian media, more than 3 million Afghans are living in Iran, including 780,000 refugees.
Afghan refugees buy fruit at a bazaar on the outskirts of Mashhad, Iran, Nov. 2, 2020. (Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz)
As a witness to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Saebi held Washington accountable for the deteriorating security and economy in his home country.
After the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York, the U.S. launched the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan under the pretext of pursuing Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the terror attacks.
However, despite its claims of seeking to ensure peace in Afghanistan, the U.S. has neither improved the security in the country nor ended the terrorism throughout its 20 years of occupation, said Saebi.
"The U.S. presence solely led to an escalation in violence and terrorism in Afghanistan," Saebi noted, recalling the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, during which one of his brothers was killed by the Islamic State (IS).
"The terror group (IS) has been created by the United States," he said, adding "the United States is behind the murder of Afghan people and plunder of their resources."
Photo taken on Feb. 27, 2022 shows a bazaar destroyed in U.S. air strikes in Sangin district of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The U.S.-led coalition forces may have run from Afghanistan last year, but the indiscriminate killing and widespread atrocities committed against the Afghan people during the occupation will haunt the victims and their families for years. (Photo by Arghand/Xinhua)
On the 2021 "irresponsible and chaotic" U.S. pullout from Afghanistan, Saebi described it as "worse than the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan."
"The U.S. always seeks to sow discord and provoke divisions, and turn different ethnic and religious groups against each other in order to control them, plunder their resource and safeguard the U.S. own interests," he said.
In the eyes of Maqsoud Majidi, another Afghan refugee in Iran, the 20 years of U.S. occupation had "made everybody's life (in Afghanistan) miserable" by ruining the economy.
"Ever since I can remember, there have always been conflicts in Afghanistan," said the 17-year-old boy who was born after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
The U.S. occupation ruined his childhood dream of becoming a teacher or physician as he was deprived of proper education, Majidi said.
"The United States is the main factor behind the war in Afghanistan. It always involves massacres and destructions and is followed by insecurity and instability," he said.
The handover ceremony of a key operating base of the U.S. forces is held at Camp Antonik in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 2, 2021. U.S. and NATO troops began to pull out from Afghanistan on May 1, 2021. (Xinhua)
Amid the unsafe and unstable security and economic conditions in Afghanistan, Majidi fled to Iran to support his family, which includes his father, mother, three sisters, and two brothers.
"The money I earn is enough to support my family back in Afghanistan and help my brothers and sisters go to school," said Majidi, who earns around 4 million tomans (around 133 U.S. dollars) per month by working at a fruit store in Tehran.
"The entire U.S. project of invading, occupying and then leaving Afghanistan was a mistake. I want Afghanistan to be a peaceful place where there is no war," Majidi said. ■