Conflict & Justice

Ahmed Wali Karzai is dead. Really?


Ahmed Wali Karzai (C) talks on the phone as he sits with supporters celebrating the re-election victory of his brother President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar on Nov. 3, 2009.


Banaras Khan

A family confidant killed Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, inside his house in central Kandahar on Tuesday. For those of us who've been to Kandahar, and heard the tales of the size of shadow he cast, it's hard to believe the ex-Chicago restaurant owner, paid C.I.A. asset — and oh yeah — the man considered to be one of the most corrupt men in Afghanistan, is actually gone.  

U.S. officials as influential as the late Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke never managed to maneuver his removal as head of the Kandahar Provincial Council, where the rumors of his huge cuts from the opium game became so brazen and his hold on power so complete, he'd long come to epitomize the rottenness of the entire Karzai regime.

But now he's dead, killed by Sadar Mohammed, a friend. And what happens next — as explained by Matthieu Akins in a Foreign Policy piece analyzing the potential fallout, doesn't appear good.

There's a lesson here, the kind of lesson learned over and over again in a place like Afghanistan. What the United States and NATO was not able to accomplish through millions of dollars in backroom negotiations, one Afghan did with two bullets.

The truth is, the U.S. military and NATO had accepted AWK, as he was known to some, because they believed the enemy you know is better than the one you don't. The giant of a man was thought to be the most corrupt but also the only one powerful enough, using personal leverages and strongman tactics, to partner with in Kandahar Province during last year's much-hyped surge.  

With 10,000 surge troops exiting this year, and many districts in Kandahar still plagued by violence, the death of Karzai will bring more uncertainty than joy to the war planner's plate.