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Afghanistan: Why America Is Going to Miss Ahmed Wali Karzai

Ahmed Wali Karzai

Ahmed Wali Karzai

Mamoon Durrani/AFP/Getty Images

Nobody can fully replace Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was assassinated yesterday, as the most powerful political broker in southern Afghanistan, writes Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid in the New York Times. Karzai, the notoriously corrupt, drug-smuggling half-brother of Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, was no favorite of the U.S. But Afghanistan without him is a more unstable, unpredictable place – he essentially ran (and held together) the southern provinces for his brother – and “his death leaves a huge political vacuum for the Americans and President Karzai at a critical moment.” Karzai was well placed to help in a variety of ways: “He had forged tribal alliances to defend his half brother’s presidency and extend the central government’s rule outside Kabul. He openly helped American and British forces with strategic advice and knowledge of the tribes, and ran a clandestine Afghan special operations team for the C.I.A. And, as early as 2007, he was the first prominent Afghan leader to start talks with the Taliban in a bid to end the war.” With him out of the picture, writes Rashid, the fear “is that despite the military surge and the successes of American forces, uncertainty has once again returned to the south.”

‘The Afghan Enforcer I Knew’ [Ahmed Rashid, New York Times]

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