AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT DONALD J TRUMP

President Donald J Trump

The White House

Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington DC.

Dear Mr. President:

As an Afghan American and President of the National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes of Afghanistan, it is with greatest pleasure to extend our sincerest congratulations on your astounding success in winning the Presidency of this great Nation, The United States of America.

The only other time that I believe such history was made was in 1980, when President Ronald Reagan, who like you won, against major odds, after being opposed by most of his party and labeled “too extreme” to be President, reached the highest office in the world. For the eight years of his Presidency, not only did he, with the partnership with the Afghan Freedom Fighters, rid the world of the Communist threat and end the Cold War, but also brought down the wall to unite the Germanys. United States, and the world, enjoyed peace during his Presidency.

Now, after nearly four decades, the world once again has been given the good fortune to rekindle the Reagan era in you.  I know the Reagan era well because I was one of the principle persons to play a major part in getting the stinger missiles to the Afghan Freedom Fighters and worked closely with the Reagan White House to deliver Soviet made military equipment from Egypt to Afghanistan.

Watching your tireless activities thus far, I am convinced that the parallels between what you have achieved so far and what President Reagan achieved in 1980 and afterwards, bode well for the future of my adopted country, and of the world.

Today the world faces a crisis, the likes of which have not been seen since the Second World War. In previous crises the enemy was easily identifiable and the battles were fought by and between soldiers and sailors. Today, the enemy is faceless, hiding behind black hoods, following a false religion by the name of Wahabism, established in Saudi Arabia in 1763.  Supported by certain wealthy Arabs, this Evil group believes in Jihad and murder of all those who do not submit to their rule.

Their followers are embedded in a number of nations around the world, ready to strike, when ordered by their leader Al Baghdadi.

As one who has been involved in the affairs of my Motherland, Afghanistan, I have had the misfortune to observe the destruction of Afghanistan over these past nearly forty years. The Afghan population has suffered inestimable destruction of life, liberty, history, and culture, and it is becoming all too easy to despair that it will ever achieve the heights of civilizational achievement and political and economic success of which it had in the 1920s and until the occupation of the country by Communists.

After 9/11, when the United States came to Afghanistan to rid the world of Osama bin Laden and hordes of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, our people were elated and welcomed the US Forces with open arms and thanked Allah for delivering them from the great evil that had taken over their land.

Today, almost 16 years later, Afghanistan is still suffering atrocities committed against its population by the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the infestation of ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/ and several other terror groups supported by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.

The infestation of the ISIL swarms is endangering lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness in many areas of the world and creating a refugee crisis also unseen since the Second World War.

Now we are at the threshold of a new era. And it is an even more dangerous era, one which could destroy multitudes of innocent lives, unless we take proper steps to stop it.

Al Baghdadi is but one head of a multi-headed dragon.  To kill the dragon we must cut off all the heads and the limbs as well. To succeed in this endeavor, we must force the evil out of its hiding places to destroy it. This cannot be done with bombs, especially in a mountainous country like Afghanistan or the sandy deserts of the Middle East. They have holes to crawl into and innocent people to hide among.

To destroy the wasps, one must destroy the hive. The Hive is represented by those nations in the Arab world who are funding them.

Mr. President, the Afghans and all the other innocent populations of the Middle East and the civilized world need a strong Leader to instill fear in the hearts of these killers and to once and for all, get rid of them. We see that Leadership in you. You have what the terrorists fear. A determination to go after them wherever they are and after those who are supporting them.

Mr. President, main reason that the Soviet Union succeeded in imposing their system of totalitarian regimes upon some the nations such as Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere, was that they started from bottom up. Once they had the people on their side, bringing a change at the top was easy.  Their big mistake was that they reversed their policy in Afghanistan and tried to work from top down. They knew that the Afghan people would not accept Communism as it did not adhere to any religion. Thus, when the Communist party took over on April 27, 1978, almost immediately, the Tribes rose up against them and later against the Red Army.

After sacrificing almost 1.5 million on the battle field and another 1.5 million through migratory genocide, our brave tribal warriors, with partnership and assistance from the Reagan Administration, we succeeded in driving the Red Army out and are proud to say that we helped in bringing down the Communist Empire and thus ending the Cold War.  Unfortunately, the world does not give us credit for this historical sacrifice.

Mr. President, the policies of on again and off again of the Obama Administration, encouraged and energized the Terrorist groups of Al Qaeda, Taliban Chechens, Xinchiang, and many other terror groups, to the point that they now either occupy or are in control of the majority part of Afghanistan. Their philosophy was while America had the watch, they had the time. And time they did have.  They waited until the previous Administration started pulling troops out of strategic locations, which the terrorists then occupied.

Mr. President, situation in Afghanistan has taken a dangerous turn.  Whereas Pakistan and its ISI is still very much involved in supporting the terror activities within Afghanistan, which is killing thousands of innocent citizens, today a new Great Game is at play.  During the last Great Game of the 19th and 20th centuries between Great Britain and Russia, has been replaced today, by a more dangerous Great Game that involves, Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan and support from the rich Arabs. This new Game, if allowed to succeed, will post great danger to the entire Central Asia.

Presently Afghanistan is the only Central Asian nation which still has a flickering light of hope for the West.  Should that light go out, then the USA and the West will lose all foothold in Central Asia.

Afghans are very concerned about their future. They do not want the nation to fall into the hands of the terrorists or neighboring countries. Whereas we appreciate United States continued commitment to Afghanistan, caution must be taken to see that any new deployment is carried out with an end in sight. Relying on more troops is not an answer and is more likely to be counterproductive, unless integrated into a revised strategy.

Such strategy should separate the Afghan Taliban from the Foreign ones.  It is with the Afghan Taliban that we must open a dialogue with for peace. This can be accomplished by working closely with the Tribal elders, so that each Tribe could bring in its own Taliban, within the fold of Afghan society.  We can do this by establishing dialogue centers in areas dominated by the Afghan Taliban. For example, the Afghan Taliban in the Province of Farrah, mostly belong to the Noorzai Tribe. We can set up such a center in that Province. So, on and so forth.

In other words, we must start building the house from foundation up, not from the roof down.

This strategy will provide Afghanistan with a ready-made catalyst for the right change. It will give Afghanistan a way forward that can begin immediately, and which embraces what has always been needed, a symbiotic relationship between the State and the Tribes. This will only work if the State becomes part of the solution and not part of the problem, as it is, at the present time. To create a trustworthy atmosphere, the NUG must cease and desist the infighting, nepotism and corruption and begin to work honestly with the Tribes.

As one, who has extensive historical relationship with practically all the Tribes of Afghanistan, I am willing, able and ready to assist in any way I can to reach the daunting goal of bringing peace and harmony to my Motherland. Both Afghanistan and the USA has paid dearly, both humanly and financially over these decades.  It is high time that we taste success.

To that end, Mr. President, I stand ready to serve my Motherland Afghanistan and my adopted land, the United States of America, through putting my personal network and my family’s regional influence to work in the service of a common goal. I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you or your foreign policy and national security aides about this. In the meantime, you have my full support for all the positive steps that you have taken to Make America Great Again.

May God Bless you and empower you to save the innocents from the jaws of the devil.

United We Stand!

Respectfully

Prince Ali Seraj

Member of the former Afghan Royal Family

President, National Coalition for Dialogue with Tribes of Afghanistan

Former Afghan Presidential Candidate

 

Web site: http://www.ncdta.org

 

DO AFGHAN LIVES MATTER

I just celebrated 39 years (April 27, 1978-April 27, 2017) of my involvement in Afghanistan’s dark and bloody history. I have lived every waking hours of my life since then, helplessly trying with great frustration, to get our message out to the “civilized” world.

Even though the entire period is covered in my upcoming book “THE LOST KINGDOM”, earmarked  for publication by this coming September, still I would like to update the reader about the death and destruction that started in Afghanistan, on April 27, 1978 and have continued to the present day. It has become a part of the daily lives of the tens of thousands of our countrymen and women:

1- April 27, 1978 saw the take-over of Afghanistan by the two Communist Parties of Khalq and Parcham, supported by USSR (1978-1979), establishing the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. This was the bloodiest time in  Afghanistan’s history since the invading forces of Genghis Khan, (1219-1221) when he burned down entire cities and killed all living things, humans and creatures.

During this Communist Coup d’état, the first casualties were President Daoud and 19 members of his family, men and women, the youngest being about 2 years old.   This massacre was followed by systematic execution of thousands of professionals, teachers, government officials, clergies, military and police officers and members of the citizenry, young and old. The lucky ones were shot. The unlucky ones were lined up along a pre-dug ditch and hit on the head with shovels or bats and then they were buried alive.Thousands others were imprisoned in the infamous Puli Charkhi prison.

2- Soviet invasion December 1979 to February 1989 brought in another bloody era. During this period, the Tribes of Afghanistan (referred to Mujahedeen, meaning Freedom fighters) rose up against the Red Army and the Communist Afghan government. During this 10 year war, 1.5 million of our people were killed on the battlefield and another 1.5 million died through what I refer to as “migratory genocide”, as they were fleeing the war to seek refuge on the mountains of Pakistan during a very cold winter  and to the deserts of Iran.

3- Ethnic war 1990 to 1996. After the defeat of the Red Army, the different Ethnic factions, instead of enjoying the peace that they had fought for and won heroically against one of the world’s most powerful military, they took up arms against each other. The most vicious of these Warlords was one called Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Even though he was appointed as the Prime Minister of the Mujahedeen government, he refused to take the seat. Instead he took his followers out of Kabul and set up camp in a district from which he rained thousands rockets on the defenseless citizens of Kabul, killing an estimated 70,000 people. Thousands others were killed during the civil war by and between the Warlords and their followers.

It is important to note here that even though we Afghans sacrificed millions of our people, fighting the Red Army and finally bringing down the Communist Empire and ending the Cold War, it is Lech Walesa of Poland who gets the credit. No one nation or media give us the credit.  I believe the world at large owe us an apology for disregarding our tribes and gratitude for our valiant fight against the Red Army thereby freeing the world from the threat of Communism.

4- 1996 saw the appearance of Osama bin Laden and the  Taliban on the Afghan scene. This blood thirsty hordes, under the pretext of Islam, supported by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan Military, killed thousands more from one end of the country to the other.

5- October 2001 United States supported by Canada and United Kingdom,entered Afghanistan, after 9/11 to get Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda, who had planned and executed the downing of the World Trade Center towers and a section of the Pentagon. In 2003 to present,  they were joined by another 44 nations. During this period, Afghanistan has experienced an upsurge in terrorist activities at the hands of Taliban, Al Qaeda, Lashkar e Tayeba, Chechens, Xinchiang, Uzbeks and lately the ISIS, ISIL, Daesh and several other terror groups.  During this period tens of thousands of our countrymen and countrywomen have been murdered at the hands of these evil sources and through collateral damage.

The latest casualties incurred on our people has been during this Holy Month of Ramadan where over 20 were murdered in Paktiya on June 1 by a suicide bomber, over 200 murdered and over 600 wounded by the explosion of sewage tanker filled with 1.5 tons of explosives on June 3, followed by 12 demonstrators killed and over 20 wounded by Afghan Security forces during a peaceful demonstration in Kabul on June 4. Another 20 inhabitants were killed and around 80 injured by 3 suicide bombers at a funeral service for one of the demonstrators killed the day before. Today June 6, there was another suicide attack in the city of Herat.  Number of casualties not known as yet.

The total murdered during this period in a small nation like Afghanistan, is beyond imagination.

The reason behind my writing this article is to ask a very important question:

DO AFGHAN LIVES MATTER?  Why does Terrorist activities with much less casualties receive non stop news coverage, as it has been with the six, who were murdered by Evil forces, in London, while the media is almost silent about the 300 plus Afghans murdered at the same period, in Afghanistan.

This Evil group knows no boundary, religion or commitment. Their boundary is the world at large. Their religion is non-Islamic, mostly Wahabis. Their commitment is jihad, murder and mayhem. They are like a swarm of locusts, moving from place to place, destroying everything in its path. To succeed against them, is, for the World at large, to unite as one and follow the swarm wherever it goes and destroy it. Bickering among ourselves and blaming each other for this or that, only helps the swarms to get bigger and more dangerous.

Let us remember:

STRENGTH THROUGH UNITY

MEMORIAL DAY 2017

Freedom does not come free. Freedom cannot be bought. Freedom is not a gift. Freedom does not fall from the sky. It takes a great deal of sacrifice to get and maintain Freedom.

Both United States of America and our Motherland Afghanistan, have sacrificed tens of thousands of their brave men and women, in order, to defend their Freedom.  Through it all, in defense of freedom, the only real estate that these brave soldiers have occupied has been the plot of land where they are buried. Whether in their own nations or foreign lands

How easy it is for those of us who are living in peace and harmony, to forget that the reason we are free is because of  those who fought bravely, in order for the rest of us to enjoy the fruits of their ultimate sacrifice.

Thus as a former military person, on this memorable Memorial Day, it is a great honor for me to extend my heartfelt thanks not only to the brave men and women of the military of both nations, but also to their families, who also have paid for our freedom in losing their loved ones.

May the souls of those who are no longer with us, rest in peace. May we never forget that we are free because of our brave sons and daughters. May we forever honor their service and sacrifice.

Ameen!

DARKEST DAY IN AFGHANISTAN HISTORY, APRIL 27, 1978

39 years ago, April 27, 1978, will forever be remembered as the darkest day in Afghanistan’s history.

That was the day when the Communist parties of Khalq and Parcham turned the bright skies of our beloved motherland into darkness, when the streets of our cities were filled with our martyred brothers and sisters, when thousands of our intellectuals, military officers, teachers, religious figures and many other professionals were either killed or buried alive.  That is the day, when President Daoud and his entire family were massacred inside the Palace. May their souls rest in peace.

YES! That was the day when the bloody communists rewrote the history of a very proud nation with the blood of its citizens, on its mountains, deserts and valleys. The last time such blood was shed, was when Genghis Khan invaded Afghanistan.

That was when over 6 million of our countrymen and countrywomen went into exile to the mountains of Pakistan, 2 million to the deserts of Iran and another million to the doors of the West. That was the day when Afghanistan had a first taste of its own holocaust. That was the day that Afghanistan as we knew it, seized to exist.

Our Afghanistan and our people  have not seen a day of peace after that carnage.

Yet today, after these 39, most of the very people, who imposed such heartbreaking years of turmoil, murder, terror and instability, on us, are still around and enjoying important government positions in the National Unity Government.

Where is JUSTICE. There is not one single family in Afghanistan who has not lost a loved one to these post Genghis hordes. Some of the members of these mass murderers are enjoying freedom and wealth in some of the most democratic nations of the world.

Where is JUSTICE. While our people are still licking the old wounds and bandaging the new ones, yet the very evil beings who laid down the foundation of terrorism that is engulfing the world today, are running free. The free world has given them sanctuary.

From that fateful day to today, our motherland has suffered through 9 so called rulers.  All imposed on them without their blessing. When will our beleaguered people see and receive JUSTICE.

May Allah All Mighty (SWT) forgive our war torn nation and our suffering people for any sins that they may have committed and finally bestow peace upon us. May he hear the cries of the mothers, whose children were plucked from their bosoms.  May he destroy the ones who have imposed such carnage on our beloved Motherland and may those of them who have died without facing JUSTICE, be judged by the All Mighty Allah (SWT) in His Kingdom.

Ameen

 

H.M. King Amanullah Khan

This April 25, 2017 is the 57th. year that Afghanistan’s most revered King, Shah Ghazi Amanullah Khan passed away in exile, in Rome. The dreams that the young King, who assumed the Throne in 1919, at the age of 26, had for his beloved nation and his people, was beyond any feeling any leader  in the world, ever had.
 
What he and his beautiful Queen, Soraya, accomplished in the short ten year that he was the King and she the Queen, have never been equaled by any other leaders since then.
 
His love for his nation and people meant more to him than the throne of Afghanistan.  When he met with Ataturk of Turkey early in 1920s and told him that he was going to emulate him and turn Afghanistan into a modern 20th Century Nation, Ataturk, advised him to first build a strong army before attempting modernization, to which he replied that he did not need an army, because he had the Tribes behind him.
 
As history has noted that he did start the modernization of Afghanistan at such a rapid pace which alarmed the British, who were occupying the Sub Continent (India). To stop King Amanullah Khan from becoming an example for the Indians,  who might seek freedom, the British, in 1929, instigated an insurgency against him by using a British spy by the name of Mullah e Lang, to condemn the King and Queen as becoming infidels and thus unfit to rule an Islamic nation like Afghanistan. They used a photograph of Queen Soraya, dressed in a sleeveless dress with a diamond tiara, which was taken in London, when they were on a State visit to England, as a sample of the Royal couple’s conversion into Christianity. A number of Afghan personalities who were in the pay of the British Raj, produced a document, condemning the Royal Couple as such.( I have a copy of this letter which I shall post at a later date)
 
Even though His Majesty had the support of the majority of the people to stay and fight the insurgents, but he, not wanting to shed a drop of his peoples’ blood, decided that the throne was not worth such a sacrifice for him to remain as the King of a nation he loved with his heart and soul. He left his beloved Afghanistan with a broken heart.
 
He could have held on to the power, but he did not want his people hurt. No other leader in Afghanistan, since Shah Ghazi Amanullah Khan, have walked away from power for the sake of his people. Nay.. those who have come to power since the assassination of Sardar Daoud Khan, on April 26, 1978 ,at the hands of the Communist party, have held on to power at great loss of Afghan lives.
 
It takes a great and compassionate leader Like Shah Ghazi Amanullah Khan to sacrifice the Leadership for the goodwill and well-being of his people.
 
Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here by those in power today. To know when they have overstayed their welcome and exit gracefully.
 
I, as the nephew of this Great King, pray to Allah all Mighty (SWT), to keep our beloved King in His Kingdom and to forgive those members of his beloved nation for not understanding or being mislead about the great progressive plans that both he and his Queen had for the men and women of Afghanistan. May their Majesties dreams for a beautiful Afghanistan eventually materialize so that future generations would look upon their history with pride.
 
Ameen

ARTICLE BY SARAH DAVIS, NATIONAL NEWS, CANADIAN JOURNALIST, JAN. 2009

theafghanprince

This article written almost 8 years ago, when I was running for the Presidency, is very indicative of mistakes made then that have lead to present problems.  Perhaps the Trump Administration will heed the voices of the people (Tribes) of Afghanistan and not repeat the same mistakes as the previous Administration.

A prince who may be president

Supporters surround Prince Abdul Ali Seraj, right, who is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidential election next week.

The National – News – 15 Feb 2009 – By Sarah Davison.

A western-educated prince is fast emerging as the first choice of tribal elders for Afghanistan’s presidential election. The plain-speaking former businessman, however, has an agenda of his own – uniting the ravaged nation. Sarah Davison, Foreign Correspondent


In Kabul Prince Abdul Ali Seraj’s coffee table is littered with little plastic bags and he is busy filling them up with dirt from his…

View original post 2,179 more words

ARTICLE BY SARAH DAVIS, NATIONAL NEWS, CANADIAN JOURNALIST, JAN. 2009

This article written almost 8 years ago, when I was running for the Presidency, is very indicative of mistakes made then that have lead to present problems.  Perhaps the Trump Administration will heed the voices of the people (Tribes) of Afghanistan and not repeat the same mistakes as the previous Administration.

A prince who may be president

Supporters surround Prince Abdul Ali Seraj, right, who is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidential election next week.

The National – News – 15 Feb 2009 – By Sarah Davison.

A western-educated prince is fast emerging as the first choice of tribal elders for Afghanistan’s presidential election. The plain-speaking former businessman, however, has an agenda of his own – uniting the ravaged nation. Sarah Davison, Foreign Correspondent


In Kabul Prince Abdul Ali Seraj’s coffee table is littered with little plastic bags and he is busy filling them up with dirt from his garden.

This Afghan prince and presidential contender will soon be handing out the little bags of dirt to his supporters, who have travelled from all over Afghanistan to attend one of his regular pep talks in Kabul.

“When people ask for money, I give them a bag of dirt,” he said. “I say, ‘Here, this is your land, this is your country. You want to save your country, here it is, go save it. You want to sell it, be my guest, go sell it. Don’t look to me for money’.”

Prince Seraj may be royalty, but slick he is not. This big, blunt nationalist with 10 kings in his family tree has a tough message for his fellow Afghans: stop selling your country down the river. Stand up and fight for it instead.

It is a resonant message in a country so thoroughly corrupt that caregivers at orphanages steal the shoes from children’s feet.

It also resonates because of who Prince Seraj is: the nephew of Afghanistan’s most revered leader King Amanullah, who died in 1960, with a royal lineage reaching all the way back to Dost Mohammed Khan, an emir in the early 1800s. Weeping tribal elders who remember King Amanullah have been known to stop the prince in the street and try to kiss his eyes.

“ They have the family stamp,” Prince Seraj said.

The prince is the presidential choice for a growing number of tribal elders in Afghanistan. After 30 years of war and the past seven years of acute disappointment, tribes from across Afghanistan are emerging to demand a louder voice in the country’s affairs.

Seven years ago, as they watched the rot of corruption settle in alongside the nation’s new constitution, the elders created a new group, the National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes of Afghanistan. They then set about finding a leader, settling on Prince Seraj. The tribes insist this is not a political party. They blame politics for all of Afghanistan’s troubles dating to the Soviet invasion. Instead, they say they are a tribal group dedicated to national unity, and although they acknowledge publicly that the monarchy is over, the word “king” does occasionally slip out.

“He has absolutely no tribal or religious affiliation,” Abdul Ahad Sarteeb from Kandahar said of Prince Seraj. “His family has proved that they can unite Afghanistan as one. He is even-handed, and acceptable to everyone.”

Prince Seraj’s broad appeal to this crucial group was apparent at his dingy office in downtown Kabul recently. The place was packed with elders in tribal dress. “Taliban” were certainly present – although Prince Seraj is at pains to clarify that the Taliban should not be seen as a monolithic organisation, classifying them as “black, grey and white”. Grey Taliban are highway robbers and thieves, an Afghan mafia exploiting the current lawlessness. White Taliban, however, are freedom fighters, taking up arms in fury at foreign occupiers using unmanned predator drones to bomb innocent Afghans.

For Prince Seraj, and for most of the tribes, the “black” Taliban – the real problem – are the followers of Mullah Mohammed Omar, a Pakistani grafted upon a swathe of leaderless Pashtuns in the 1990s by Pakistani troublemakers, and now under the influence of al Qa’eda.

This group is unwelcome on Afghan soil – even more so than the coalition forces.

And this is where western interests converge with the interests of the tribes – although one would never know it.

For Prince Seraj and his followers, identifying which Talib is which is easy; for westerners, it is virtually impossible. So it mystifies and angers Prince Seraj that the coalition does not ask the tribes for help and instead prefers to bomb them from the skies using unmanned predator drones.

The International Security Assistance Force, a NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, has killed more “innocent Afghans than the Taliban”, he shouted. “But they keep saying, ‘We killed Taliban leaders’. Excuse me, would you mind telling me the name of this leader? What is his name? Nameless! If he is a leader, they should know who he is and announce it to the world!”

Despite his views, Prince Seraj, known as Ali to his friends, regularly appeals to his supporters to find someone else to stand in as leader of the group, but that is not going to happen; he is simply too unusual.

Prince Seraj is a 60-something retired businessman who was born and grew up in Kabul, and was enjoying a quiet retirement before the tribes roped him in.

He attended the University of Connecticut in the 1960s before returning to Kabul and establishing a dozen local businesses, among them Kabul’s first nightclub. When the Soviets invaded, he escaped across the border to Pakistan, found his way to the United States, and became active with the mujahideen resistance. Ultimately, he became a successful US businessman. When the Taliban was routed in 2001 he returned to Kabul to work on reconstruction projects, until the tribes, which he has known all his life, asked him to be their leader.

Prince Seraj is unusual in that he is both a liberal thinker and a legitimate representative of the tribes of Afghanistan; a former royal with bloodlines linking him to every tribe in the country, a long-term resident of Kabul, and the chosen leader of a group with tribal representation from across the country.

As such, Prince Seraj is a potential bridge and an opportunity that should not be missed, according to Ken Guest, an analyst with nearly 30 years of direct experience in Afghanistan.

“What is it that President [Barack] Obama most has to achieve – make us feel good, or solve the problem? If the United States lends its support to the next Afghan leader based on the sole criteria that they are someone who falls within the West’s comfort zone, just like [current president Hamid] Karzai – they’ll be missing the point, just as they did before,” he said.

 

“The critical part of any workable Afghan strategy is the ability to talk to the tribes. That is what they need most. That is Seraj.”

But there is little evidence that Washington is listening. Prince Seraj was unable to find anybody to talk to when he visited the capital in November and has felt left out in the cold since, especially given that some of his rivals reside in Washington and even attended inauguration parties for Mr. Obama. That unwillingness to reach out to a true Afghan, a leader in touch with the grassroots tribal members, bodes ill for the future.

“We Afghans, we may be illiterate, but we’re not stupid,” Prince Seraj said. “The West must understand that unless we unite the nation, this area will explode to the point it will affect the entire Central Asia. Afghanistan is no longer a local problem, it is a world problem. There are four billion people around Afghanistan and none of them are happy with the other. And all the surrounding countries have nuclear weapons.”

The situation could not be more urgent. Last week, Afghanistan’s defence minister said thousands of foreign fighters from Iraq were pouring into the country across the border with Pakistan, but the tribes who know the area best have not been asked to help. A missed opportunity, Prince Seraj said.

“We as tribes living along the border, when we look at the mountain, we don’t just see the mountain, we see 18, 19, 20, 40 goat tracks,” he said. “We know the enemy uses the goat tracks to get into the country. He does not go over the mountain, he uses the goat tracks, and we know which goat tracks he follows.”

Prince Seraj is amazed by the West’s insistence on fighting an enemy they do not understand on terrain they cannot manage, especially given their prior experience of supporting the mujahideen during the Soviet occupation.

“I am an Afghan-American,” he said. “Nobody has asked me if I would go to battle and fight my enemies. “ Why don’t we ask the Afghan tribes if they are willing to go and defend their nation, their tribes, their homes, their wives and their children against the enemies that are coming from across the border? Why don’t you ask if we are willing to die for our nation as we have done for the past 5,000 years? Why are you sacrificing your children for something that we can do, and that we would be honoured to do?”

This widening gulf between the Afghan reality and US policy has given rise to misunderstandings in other areas too, including resistance to traditional tribal methods that have worked for centuries. An example is the community guard programme, now running as a pilot project in Wardak, under which tribal members assume responsibility for the security of their own areas. Critics say it is equivalent to arming the tribes and warn that it will create warlord militias. But Prince Seraj said almost every Afghan already has a gun and this is the way Afghanistan has traditionally secured its regional areas; and that is why it will work.

He also said a government that fails to accommodate both Islam and the tribes in a predominantly Muslim, tribal country is doomed to failure, and proposes that tribal leaders retain control of justice issues in their own areas while referring capital crimes and larger problems to a national civil court.

Perhaps most controversially, he also proposes dual heads of state, with the president responsible for the tribes and the prime minister responsible for the centralised government. This is probably the only way of effectively integrating the tribes into a modern, democratic constitution, he said.

“The card of Afghanistan has two faces, one face is the government, and one is the tribes,” he said. “I am the tribes. Anyone who comes here to govern cannot govern without me.”

The western-Afghan culture clash was nowhere more obvious than at the meeting, where tribal leaders hooted with derision at Americans who drive down the streets of Kabul in convoys of three large black vehicles with two police cars at the front and the tail.

“If they can’t guarantee their own security, how are they going to guarantee my security?” one elder said to applause.

Security in Afghanistan comes from the people you know, the elders said, not from a gun. When you go into the hills, you go with people, not with guns.

Still others warned that if the new election produces a leader who is more American than Afghan, the tribes will walk away in disgust.

“If a candidate can walk past that mountain, I will say he is a leader,” said Mahmud Mobin Nozai of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as he gestured out the window. “I can do it, Ali can do it. But these people who fly in helicopters and say they want to be king of Afghanistan, I say, ‘Get out’.”

In general, though, the tribes were positive about the inauguration of Mr Obama, saying it signalled a turning point that might offer some promise.

“I want Barack Obama to understand what we say so he does not go in the wrong direction,” said Obaid Dullah, an ethnic Tajik. “I would put my head down for him. The Taliban, I guarantee, they will accept him.”

Prince Seraj is set to announce his candidacy for the presidency next week. If he wins the vote in August, he will inherit a narcostate with a capital city racked by suicide bombs, an economy in shambles, and a countryside impassable outside an armoured personnel carrier. He has little money and even less security. But he does have the loyalty of the tribes, as well as history on his side.

Prince Seraj is the spitting image of his great-grandfather, Abdur Rahman, the “iron emir” who inherited the country at the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1880. Back then, as now, the nation was impoverished, corrupt and on the verge of disintegration. Installed by the British who knew nothing about him but were exhausted and desperate to leave, Abdur Rahman used a combination of force and wile to glue the country back together again.

Afghanistan’s monarchy ended only with the royal coup d’ tat that enabled the Soviet invasion in the 1970s and the country has known nothing but war since. Now, Afghans look back on the House of Seraj as a golden era.

“When people look at me, they don’t see me, they see an entire family, and that is where the support comes from,” Prince Seraj said.

 

“In my place it could have been anyone. It could have been my brother, any one of my cousins, but I was there and they came to me. There is no one in Afghanistan who can do what I can do, what my family can do. No one.”