News / Asia

Karzai's Slain Brother a Controversial Power Broker

Kandahar provincial governor Ahmad Wali Karzai (R), a brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, talks to journalists in Kandahar in this still image taken from a April 2009 video.
Kandahar provincial governor Ahmad Wali Karzai (R), a brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, talks to journalists in Kandahar in this still image taken from a April 2009 video.

The younger half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was considered the most powerful figure in the southern province of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban.

Power broker

Ahmed Wali Karzai's role as chief of the Kandahar provincial council was largely consultative, but his power came from his tribal and family connections, as well as the wealth he accumulated.  People would line up every day to seek Wali Karzai's advice and support on business matters, political dealings and tribal disputes.

But the source of his wealth and power fueled the controversy surrounding Wali Karzai.

While he was seen as a key power broker in the region and an ally of the international forces fighting the Taliban, the president's brother was also accused of corruption, drug trafficking and being on the CIA payroll, allegations he denied.

Relied upon

For the last several years, President Karzai had relied on his brother to help maintain support among his ethnic Pashtun community in the south.  The United States and other Western nations also relied on Wali Karzai and his influence in Kandahar, where international troops were working to clear insurgent strongholds.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly defended his paternal half-brother against any criticism.  Both men returned to Afghanistan from the United States after the Taliban-led government was ousted by U.S. forces in 2001. Wali Karzai used to own a restaurant in the midwestern U.S. city of Chicago, before returning to his native country.

Wali Karzai was born in 1961 and had five children.  He survived several assassination attempts before his death on Tuesday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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