News / Asia

Half-Brother's Death Deals Blow to Afghan President

Ahmad Wali Karzai, half-brother of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar, Afghanistan, April 14, 2010 (file photo)
Ahmad Wali Karzai, half-brother of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar, Afghanistan, April 14, 2010 (file photo)

The killing of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother has removed a key power broker from the Afghan political scene.  Ahmad Wali Karzai was the most powerful figure in Kandahar province, a hotbed of insurgent activity. His death is seen as a severe blow to the power base of President Karzai.

Ahmad Wali Karzai was head of the Kandahar provincial council, but had far more power than the provincial governor.  He wielded both economic and political clout on behalf of himself and his half-brother, President Hamid Karzai, in the midst of the Taliban insurgency.  

Ambassador Simon Gass, NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, says Wali Karzai’s death is a severe political and personal blow to the Afghan president.

"Well, obviously Ahmad Wali Karzai was a really heavy hitter, particularly in Kandahar politics.  He was the president’s brother, and the loss of him will be a tremendous blow to the president in personal terms.  In political terms, there certainly will be a space created in Kandahar politics.  But the president has many supporters in that city, not just one, and I’m sure that he’ll be resilient and bounce back from that," Gass said.

Larry Goodson of the U.S. Army War College says Wali Karzai’s death deprives the president of a key ally who could deliver votes in elections and mobilize the ethnic Pashtun constituency.

"His ability - no matter how unsavory and so forth he might have been in regard to some of the activities he was reputed to have engaged in - his ability to deliver the south for (Hamid) Karzai and this region that is sort of the hotbed of anti-Karzai resistance was critical.  And that’s going to be gone," Goodson said.

Offering his personal assessment, Goodson says he believes President Karzai has been looking for ways to stay in office.  The president’s second term expires in 2014 - the year the U.S. troop withdrawal is scheduled to finish - and by law he cannot seek a third term.  Goodson says Wali Karzai’s death will have what he terms an “enormous impact” on his half-brother’s plan to cling to power by amending the constitution or some other means.

"I think (Hamid) Karzai’s plan all along has been to find a way to get beyond the constitutional limit on two terms.  He’s been looking for a way to alter the constitutional requirement and maintain his position.  And Ahmad Wali’s ability to be a power broker in the volatile center of the insurgency region was critical to his efforts to do that," Goodson said.

But some analysts believe his death actually removes an irritant for the president. No longer will he have to answer the complaints from some Western diplomats about his half-brother’s behavior.

Wali Karzai was held up by many Western diplomats as the prime example of the corruption in Afghanistan.  One former U.S. official with extensive experience in Afghanistan, who asked not to be named, said that whether true or not, everyone in Afghanistan believed Wali Karzai to be, as he put it, “a criminal, drug smuggler, thief, and a thug.” He held court like some medieval potentate, reports say, receiving diplomats and generals.  He was dogged by allegations of corruption and involvement in the drug trade, charges he repeatedly denied.  He was also alleged to be on the payroll of the CIA, which he also denied.

Whatever he actually was, Afghans are bracing for what comes next in Kandahar.  Larry Goodson says it will be messy.

"I think what’s more likely to happen is there’s going to be a power struggle between various claimants to the throne in Kandahar.  And the Taliban are going to be involved in trying to manipulate the outcome. And it’s probably going to be bloody.  And the opportunity for increased corruption in the south is going to be there as people try to influence the outcome of that struggle.  So I think that in the short and medium term, it’s likely to be really bad," Goodson said.

And the Taliban remain active in Kandhar.  NATO Ambassador Simon Gass says the assassination of Wali Karzai - if it was indeed a Taliban killing, as they claim - is a sign of desperation.

"I do think that the policy of the insurgents now targeting senior Afghan leaders is really a self-defeating policy.  Partly, of course, it reflects the fact that the insurgents are having such little success on the battlefield that they’re resorting more and more to attacks against individuals, and also a few spectacular and complex attacks against particular cities," Gass said.

Much of the U.S. troop surge ordered last year by the Obama administration was focused on Kandahar.  Analysts voice concern that the NATO forces in the province could get caught in the middle of bloody contest to fill the power vacuum created by Ahmad Wali Karzai's death.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs