Much is astir in Afghanistan with Karzai allies getting whacked in quick succession. Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was the Capone of Kandahar (and beyond), was killed by a person with whom he was well acquainted. AWK has been a big challenge for the folks in Southern Afghanistan, especially the Canadians before they left (well, they are still at the base, holding a garage sale) and the Americans. Why? Because he was a corrupt power broker who could get things done. Working with him meant tainting the effort, working around him was pretty close to impossible.
So, what does his death mean, as well as that of Jan Muhammad Khan? Hell if I know. I am not an Afghan expert, just an expert (more or less) on the forces shaping the intervention and why the outside actors are doing what they are doing. But a roomful of folks who study elements of Afgahnistan don't have a clear idea, either. I am currently in Australia, participating in a workshop on the effort in Afghanistan. Lots of Afghan experience in the room, but not any clarity on what is going on with these assassinations. Is it Taliban? Maybe, but probably not as AWK did enough to alienate plenty of folks. Is someone systematically trying to undermine President Karzai's support network? Seems to be the case, but who would that be? The Taliban, who are increasingly likely to get a better deal from Karzai than from a replacement? The folks in the north who fear a Karzai deal with the Taliban? Could it be a rival tribe? Is it because Karzai has been seeking to change the constitution so that he can have a third term? The outside actors? Probably not the last, as it would be way too, um, nuanced and risky.
With AWK, can the governance effort work better now? Well, given that Karzai replaced his brother with another brother, probably not. Nepotism is usually not correlated with procedural government, democracy or otherwise.
As Andrew Exum tweeted the other day, anybody who tells you anything definitive about this is talking out of their ass.
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