Afghan Taliban claim victory after British withdrawal

British soldiers lower the Union Jack during a handover ceremony before their military withdrawal from the Camp Bastion-Leatherneck complex at Lashkar Gah in Helmand province on October 26, 2014

KABUL: The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday claimed victory over Britain in southern Helmand province, crediting their fighters with killing hundreds and handicapping “tens of thousands” of troops in the “bloodiest attacks” of the 13-year war.

The last British combat troops in Afghanistan were airlifted out of Camp Bastion, a sprawling base located near the provincial capital Laskhar Gah on Monday, ending a mission that lasted longer than World War II and cost 453 lives.

Despite praise from politicians, including British leader David Cameron, the province remains a stronghold for Taliban militants whose government was ousted from power in a 2001 US-led invasion, as well a hub for opium production.

In a statement posted to their website, the insurgents thanked Taliban fighters for their “immense sacrifices”.

“No doubt, the bloodiest attacks by mujahedeen during the past 13 years, forced the invading enemy to leave. The official statistics by the enemy puts British casualties at 500 soldiers however the actual number of casualties is more than the official figures.

“These are the figures of life losses; the number of the handicapped soldiers reaches tens of thousands of troops.”

It also called upon Afghans to turn their backs on the government which was working in the interests of Western powers…

Dreadful waste of money and men’s lives — for essentially nothing. One simply cannot change a culture. And the intensely tribal (and very violent) culture of the Pashtuns will stay as it is.

Tribal cultures exist elsewhere than in Muslims countries: it is true. But Islam gives that extra flourish for excess violence: to the usual tribal fights add the fights over Islam itself.  So the Taliban has won, but what have they won?  Not much as far I can see.