Tarsha Finney does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
The only thing surprising about yesterday’s riots outside of Afghanistan’s Bagram air base is that these things don’t happen more often.
What is fascinating about Afghanistan is how its infrastructural capacities – hardware, pools of unskilled labour, airports, marketplaces – add to the country’s tacit support for each new game-player on its territory: be it Britain, Soviet Russia, the US or the Taliban.
These are the unaligned skilled economies that develop around wars; economies that up until now have seemingly shifted from side to side irrespective of outcome and eventual master.
But with each shift, tensions between the local population and occupying forces inevitably arise. This time, residents were furious over reports US troops had burned a Qur'an in the air base.
Bagram and the base
The village of Bagram sits the main entry gate to the the airfield, on the road that runs to Kabul. In 2001, this village had a population of approximately 5000 people. Today it would be significantly larger, in line with the radical expansion of the airfield under U.S administration post-surge.