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Bermudian filmmaker trying to help Afghans get out saying they are ‘absolutely terrified’

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Robert Zuill was in Afghanistan from 2009 (File photograph)
Bermudian 1st Lt Charles Waters before he left for Afghanistan in 2013 (File photograph)

A Bermudian producer and filmmaker who spent several months in Afghanistan has said people he knows there are “absolutely terrified” in face of the Taleban take over.

Robert Zuill, who is senior producer for CITV and worked on a series of promotional videos and documentaries on renewable energy in Kabul and central Afghanistan from 2009, said he is currently trying to help get some people out of the country.

Mr Zuill said: “Everyone is absolutely terrified and just waiting to see what happens next. They don’t understand why the West spent so much time and money fighting the Taleban only to give all the power back to them.

“I think it is a shame what is happening as those who get caught in the middle of it are the Afghan people – they have put up with 40 years of continuous war, they are fed up with it and want to get on with their lives but the outside powers won’t let them do that.”

Mr Zuill visited Afghanistan three times each for about six weeks. He said it was his belief that the US may have scored an own goal by removing its military forces from the region.

“By walking out, from a geopolitical stance, a vacuum has been left and China will be the big player there next,” he explained.

“They will recommend the Taleban as a legit government – they have cut a deal with the Taleban to extend the Belt and Road Initiative – China is trying to build roads and railroads across the region – they want to be the primary economic power in Central Asia.

“The irony here is the point of getting out of Afghanistan by Joe Biden is we would pivot US focus away from Afghanistan to China because of the growing challenge from China but we have given them an advantage in Central Asia.”

A Bermudian US Army captain reflected on time he served in Afghanistan.

Charles Waters, a former Saltus Grammar School student who now works as assistant city engineer for the City of Hamilton, was an Engineer Officer and 1st Lieutenant serving with the 62nd Engineer Battalion in Kandahar Afghanistan in 2013.

He was in charge of planning and coordinating combat and logistical aviation support missions for the Engineering Construction Team demolishing infrastructure to support US force withdrawal throughout the country.

He recalled: “Most bases were routinely and sporadically attacked with rocket fire, but the major tactical risks were IEDs [improvised explosive devices] planted on major routes.

“All of these various attacks were usually heavily documented for use as terrorist propaganda. All were very difficult to ascertain who the actual enemy was, if it was paid for hire soldiers, coerced civilians or general extremists.”

1st Lieutenant Waters likened his time deployed in Iraq near the end of the major US operations to the current situation in Afghanistan.

The son of long-serving soldier, Colonel Chip Waters, he earned a Bronze Star for his service in Baghdad from May to December 2011 for "exceptionally meritorious service to the United States".

“A similar situation occurred after my deployment to Iraq,” he said in reflection of current events in Afghanistan.

“We were one of the last units to leave the country, handing over some equipment and mission roles to the local Army force before leaving for Kuwait. This was a large power transition.

“A year or so later ISIS marched through Baghdad in what looked like a takeover of the capital and assumed military victory. This turned out to be more for political optics rather than actual operational control over the countries government.

“Terrorist forces seek to achieve political victories through bright optics and the use of sharp and shocking violence to stoke fear in the established structure.

“For them, if it makes headlines and creates the appearance of strength, it is a victory regardless of whether any military or tangible objectives are achieved.

“Almost all terrorist organisations lack the necessary organisation, logistics, support etc to function as a legitimate alternative to the standing government (if there is one) so they usually focus on sowing internal chaos, harassing local organisations or competing nation states.”

The war in Afghanistan is the longest running war engaged in by the US. President Joe Biden recently marked the symbolic date of September 11, 2021 for a full withdrawal of US troops from the country.

The Taleban has now seized power capturing all major cities in the course of just a few days.

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Published August 19, 2021 at 7:54 am (Updated August 19, 2021 at 8:07 am)

Bermudian filmmaker trying to help Afghans get out saying they are ‘absolutely terrified’

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