Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was blown away by one of his bodyguards today in a suicide attack. The rest of Karzai’s security detail took out the assassin, who turned his AK-47 on Karzai and shot him in the head and chest.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, so it doesn’t look like they’re responding to President Obama’s call to “break from al-Qaeda and abandon violence” so they can “be part of a peaceful Afghanistan.”
During his Afghanistan drawdown speech, the President also announced that America would “join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban.” I have a suggestion for the first initiative: a seminar in which American instructors carefully explain that vibrant democracy does not involve sending kamikaze gunmen to murder opposition political leaders.
Wali Karzai was the head of the provisional council in Kandahar, whose deputy chairman was also killed by the Taliban gunman. Karzai was a controversial figure, according to the Associated Press:
Wali Karzai, who was in his 50s, was seen by many as a political liability for the Karzai government after a series of allegations, including that he was on the CIA payroll and involved in drug trafficking. He denied the charges. The president repeatedly challenged his accusers to show him evidence of his sibling’s wrongdoing, but said nobody ever could.
Wali Karzai remained a key power broker in the south, helping shore up his family’s interests in the Taliban’s southern heartland, which has been the site of numerous offensives by U.S., coalition and Afghan troops to root out insurgents. Militants have retaliated by intimidating and killing local government officials or others against the Taliban.
The Taliban has tried to kill Karzai several times before, in a bid to destabilize southern Afghanistan. They hit the provincial council offices with suicide bombers twice, and also ambushed his motorcade in 2009.
The UK Telegraph says the successful assassination of Wali Karzai is a “enormous propaganda and morale boost for the Taliban,” which will seek to exploit the chaos they have created with further attacks:
His assassination is likely to drive home a very stark message to the Afghan population, that the Afghan state under President Karzai is incapable of providing security, even for its own leadership. As such, this will make it much harder for Nato to persuade the local population to switch their allegiance to the Afghan government as ISAF forces begin to hand over the security lead to Afghan.
The immediate commercial impact of his death will be felt by the string of businesses owned by the ‘King of Kandahar,’ as the staunchly pro-US Ahmad Karzai was known; their future is now unclear. These include influential private security companies, such as Watan Risk Management and Asia Security Group, which have contracts with ISAF for protecting its supply convoys.
The latter also runs its own a private paramilitary unit in the province – the Kandahar Strike Force that assisted US Special Forces and the CIA to seek out and kill senior Taliban insurgents. Ahmad also owned or ran a string of hotels, real estate companies and even a Toyota car dealership.
The Telegraph speculates that Karzai’s narcotics operation is the only part of his empire likely to survive his death. He also leaves behind a wife and five children, one of which is only a month old.
Reacting to the murder of his half-brother, Afghan president Hamid Karzai said, “Such is the life of Afghanistan’s people. In the houses of the people of Afghanistan, each of us is suffering and our hope is that, God willing, to remove this suffering from the people of Afghanistan and implement peace and stability.”
Waiting around for God to remove your suffering isn’t going to get the job done, Mr. Karzai, and Uncle Sam is leaving town. In the Afghanistan we’re leaving behind, the crooks remain in office until the fascists murder them.