Half-Brother Of Hamid Karzai Killed In Kandahar

A potential game changer in Afghanistan today came with the assassination of Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, who happens to be a powerful presences in southern Afghanistan:

KABUL, Afghanistan — The powerful half brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was shot dead on Tuesday by a close family associate, according to Karzai family friends who were nearby.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the provincial council chairman for Kandahar, who was the most powerful person in the province if not all of southern Afghanistan, was killed by Sardar Mohammed, a regular visitor to Mr. Karzai’s residence in central Kandahar, witnesses said.

Initial reports had said he was killed by a bodyguard.

Mr. Mohammed was a commander of security posts near Karza just south of Kandahar city, according to Mr. Karzai’s driver.

The killing shook the power structure in Kandahar, which is built around the Karzai family and its nexus of connections to powerbrokers across southern Afghanistan including narcotics smugglers, insurgents and others. It appeared likely to set off a struggle for control as members of the Karzai family and leaders from other influential clans jockey for power, and some Western officials here said they anticipated more assassinations. Whether the security situation as a whole deteriorates is hard to foresee since much depends on President Karzai’s choices about how to control the situation in the province.President Karzai held a press conference in Kabul with French President Nicolas Sarkozy barely two hours after the shooting and, speaking in a steady voice, confirmed his brother’s death. “This is the life of Afghan people, this sorrow is in every Afghan home, everyone of us has this sorrow,” he said.

He then turned to Mr. Sarkozy and said, “We welcome Mr. Sarkozy and hope he forgives us for not speaking with a smile today.”

President Karzai was a stalwart supporter of his brother, defending him strongly when he was accused by opponents and Westerners of involvement with the drug trade and corrupt security companies.

Whether this is the work of one of Karzai’s rivals in the drug trade, or the Taliban, remains to be seen.

 

FILED UNDER: Africa, Quick Takes, World Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook