afghanistan tribe leaders
© New York Times
Two years after British Prime Minister David Cameron declared "mission accomplished" in Afghanistan, the war-torn nation is standing besieged by the Taliban, its military faced-down on the floor as terror has returned with a vengeance. It was December 2013 - In a surprise visit to Camp Bastion base PM Cameron told the world his countrymen successfully fulfilled their military mandate in Afghanistan, and were coming home.
"I think they [the troops] can come home with their heads held high ... To me, the absolute driving part of the mission is a basic level of security so it doesn't become a haven for terror. That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done."
It is now December 2015 and the Taliban is hounding Afghan security forces, threatening with one smooth swoop to disintegrate whatever military resistance Kabul has mustered to throw at terror's army. If already back in 2013 British officials viewed the prime minister's statement as grossly premature, recent developments underscored what many have already labelled as Britain's criminal oversight. With a symmetry which would be ironic if not so tragic, the warning Conservative MP John Baron voiced in 2013 came to pass exactly in the fashion he described - if only someone had listened.

Commenting on Cameron's victory cry, MP Baron theorized: "in one guise or another the West would be handing back chunks of Afghanistan to the Taliban once British and American forces withdrew."

As of December 23, the Sangin district has fallen almost entirely to the Taliban, leaving the rest of Helmand province open for a complete take over. Mohammad Shakarpuri, an officer posted near Sangin confirmed on Wednesday that, "Afghanistan stands once to fall into the hands of ragtag mercenaries ... all because Western powers have failed to invest in Afghanistan's reconstruction."

Amid a stream of alarming reports by local officials that civilians are fleeing before the advances of the Taliban, Kabul has carried a complete different narrative, offering words of comfort where chaos seems to have all but consumed the ravaged nation. Speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan's acting Defense Minister Masoum Stanikzai described the situation in Helmand as "manageable", noting that fresh support troops had been sent to Helmand province to meet the challenge. While it may be so, tribal leaders near and around Sangin have complained that Kabul forbade them to take up arms against the Taliban.

Speaking under cover of anonymity for fear of reprisals from both US troops and the Afghan government, members of the Afghan tribal council have accused the Kabul government of betrayal as its officials have refused to revive the country's ancient tribal security system known as Arbaki. Contrary to popular beliefs the Arbaki is not a militia force, but a cohesive tribal coalition animated by a single goal - the protection of Afghanistan sovereign integrity. More importantly, under the Arbaki system only tribesmen vetted by their respective sheikh are ever allowed to partake, thus guaranteeing unity and order among the troops.

The efficacy of the Arbaki system has withstood the test of time. Throughout the centuries, and long before the Taliban ever came to be, the tribes of Afghanistan have always been able to ward off their enemies by standing a united tide against foreign aggression. Today as hordes of mercenaries have besieged their people, and their territories, the tribes of Afghanistan have been denied the rights to self-defense - left to weather an assault their military cannot possibly hope to oppose, for a chronic lack of weapons and manpower.

But why would Kabul and its Western allies stand in the way of resistance? And most importantly where did the millions of dollars Western powers poured into Afghanistan went to if not to help towards its institutions reconstruction - most specifically its military complex? After all, no amount of training will ever replace access to proper weaponry.

One man has very definite answers ... which answers raise some very disturbing truths.

Prince Ali Seraj, a member of Afghanistan's royal family and grandson of His Majesty Amir Habibullah (1901-1919), is adamant Afghanistan was set up for failure; sold to chaos by powers whose interests are vested in war instead of peace. "Looking at Afghanistan today and how Western powers have handled the whole terror dossier and it is quite clear that chaos was always the name of the game. Why else have Western powers systematically refused to assist the Afghan tribes, while covering for Pakistan's aiding and abating of radicals," Prince Ali told me on Wednesday.
"It is Pakistan you see behind the Taliban ... and Pakistan is no more than another agent of Saudi Arabia, the world's greatest exporter of Wahhabism. Do you seriously believe the Taliban and al-Qaeda just manifested into existence? They were imported from Tajikistan, Chechnya, Pakistan and those regions which are under the control of Riyadh," he emphasized.
Just like in Syria and Iraq, terror's army went straight to the financial jugular, choosing Helmand province for the millions of dollars its poppy fields promise. As of 2015 Afghanistan remains the world exporter of heroin, a trade the Taliban has vastly benefited from, without ever being choked out - an interesting feat bearing the level of surveillance Washington and other Western capitals invested in the country.

While officials in Kabul debate how best to handle the Taliban resurgence, as British and US soldiers are paying with their lives the price of their respective government's failed policies, thousands upon thousands of tribesmen in Helmand province stand ready to defend their homeland - only their hands are tied.

Countless tribal leaders have been bullied into submission, warned by Kabul that should they rise any force outside the direct control of the military they would be outlawed and declared terror outfits. Rather than eliminate the threat of terror within their border, rather than incorporate the tribes of Afghanistan into a cohesive anti-terror campaign, Afghan officials have spent their efforts disabling those powers which could best defeat radicals.

"The tribes are the foundations of the country and without empowering them nothing will be done," Prince Ali told me. In truth the prince makes perfect sense - Afghanistan's future lies with its people, and unless Afghans are empowered fast, it is Central Asia which stands to fall to Wahhabism - the ideology which rose legions of terror groups across several continents.

And still we remain blind to those hands which direct its armies. And still we call on young men and women to fight a fight they cannot possibly win, for the dice were rigged.