Special Envoy to Kabul
His official name is Roze Aria Market, but everyone in Kabul knows him as ‘Bush Market’, although until the arrival of the Americans it was the ‘Brezhnev Market’. These name changes depend on the leader of the power of the day who orders to occupy Afghanistan because in this market what can be found are products that are “diverted” from foreign military bases and sold at Afghan prices. “At this rate we will soon have to rename it in the name of China, Iran or Pakistan … the allies of the ’emirate’,” he jokes David, that has been running a store for thirteen years that is full of aluminum trays of the kind used in military dining rooms, industrial barbecues and microwaves and all kinds of kitchen utensils with the inscription ‘Made in USA’. Here are products from NATO bases, especially from the huge base that had USA in Bagram.
Across from Daud’s store, a drugstore displays Ax shampoo and shower gel, “a premium brand, like all American products. When we run out of supplies, I don’t know where we can get something similar, “laments Noori. In grocery stores there are shelves full of all kinds of cereals, cans, sauces and energy drinks impossible to find anywhere else in the city. Salam tries to order hundreds of bags of field rations that he sells for just 50 Afghans (0.49 euros). Each bag has written what it contains and the one that is repeated the most is the one with pork … “It’s a sin, but nobody notices it and there are only 50 Afghans,” jokes the seller.
The most popular stores are those that sell military clothing and accessories. The winter and summer boots of the American army, T-shirts with the word Army, pocket knives, flashlights, holsters of all kinds … “but this is all made in China, the Americans bought it in China and brought it here and some of the packages were diverted,” says Ahmed. The withdrawal of the Americans and the arrival of the Taliban to power sows doubts among those responsible for these stores, but “I don’t think they are going to worry about us right now, they have much more important issues. You may be interested in military clothing to make your people uniform, but you have to wait and see.
Surely the 43rd president of the United States would never have imagined having a market in his honor in the heart of the new capital of the ’emirate’. At the moment nobody disputes the name, but it does not go through its best moments since the economic crisis that the country has suffered since the arrival of the ’emirate’ has made the sales plummet. Officials from the former government have not received payment for two months and banks cannot give more than 200 dollars (169 euros at the change) per week for each person. The market is empty, there are hardly any buyers in the stores and some sellers do not want to speak to the press for fear of possible reprisals from the new leaders. “Some Taliban fighters have come to buy accessories such as glasses, caps and gloves,” but there have not been many so far, says Abdul, who specializes in telescopic sights and binoculars.
Americans are gone but your products remain in stores of this market where they are already beginning to be missed.