Death of Ahmed Wali Karzai puts fresh attention on fragile country
July 13th, 2011
07:38 AM ET

Death of Ahmed Wali Karzai puts fresh attention on fragile country

He was a player. And the death of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half brother of the president of Afghanistan, is focusing fresh attention on a complicated life, and a fragile country.

Karzai, known by his initials, AWK, had the lineage of a spy-thriller hero. He was a canny politician and power-broker in Afghanistan. He reportedly has been on the CIA payroll - something he consistently denied. And he also had a personal feel for the U.S. and could talk about his time as a Chicago restaurateur, near Wrigley Field.

But most importantly as brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, AWK played an important role in keeping the Taliban at bay.

The official U.S. line was to view his assassination as a tragedy for the Karzai family, to steer clear of some of the more infamous legends and to pause before talking about how the death of such a prominent figure might upset the delicate progress of cultivating confidence in the Afghanistan government.

But as the Kandahar provincial council chief, Ahmed Wali Karzai was an important building block in his brother's and U.S. plans to bring stability to a wide swath of Afghanistan.

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, was quick with his condolences, keeping it personal.

"My personal sympathy and condolences go out to President Karzai and his family during this extremely difficult time," Petreaus said in a statement.

"President Karzai is working to create a stronger, more secure Afghanistan, and for such a tragic event to happen to someone within his own family is unfathomable," said Petraeus, who is bidding farewell to Afghanistan soon, returning to the United States and his new post as CIA director.

Ahmed Karzai reportedly had been on the CIA payroll for much of the time the U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan.

And he also was rumored to have close ties to the illegal drug trade.

Departing U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry ripped into the Karzai brother in cables released by WikiLeaks, saying he was "widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker."

AWK's checkered reputation is difficult to untangle from his political exploits and his outreach to a wide segment of Afghanistan society.

Reva Bhalla, director of analysis for private U.S.intelligence firm STRATFOR, said Tuesday that the brother was a key figure in President Karzai's efforts to maintain support in his own Pashtun ethnic community.

"Karzai relied heavily on Ahmed Wali to build a Pashtun patronage network in the south with which to counter the Taliban. This involved everything from dealing with tribal elders, warlords, organized crime bosses, drug dealers, you name it," Bhalla told CNN.

"Unsurprisingly, this is also what has earned Ahmed Wali a reputation of being among the most corrupt in Afghanistan," Bhalla said.

The killing came just hours after Leon Panetta had made his first, visit to Afghanistan as Defense Secretary, to sit down with President Karzai, and restate the U.S. commitment. "I assured him that the U.S. is committed to the long-term security of the Afghan people and that our goal here is to ensure that Afghanistan is stable in the future and can secure, defend and govern itself so that it can never again become a safe haven for al Qaeda or its militant allies," Panetta said in Kabul Saturday.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon was ducking all questions on whether the loss of AWK would undercut that long-term security dream. The military referred all questions to the Petreaus condolence message and would not comment directly on the assassination or its impact.

But in a general way, the U.S. military continues to warn that as U.S. and coalition forces tighten the vise on the Taliban, the Taliban will respond by sewing fear and instability.

"They are on the ropes and as a result of that they will increase their campaign in these targeted attacks to create the perception of instability, create the perception that there is a lack of security," Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said about the Taliban, while carefully sidestepping the Karzai murder. "Their attacks may not have operational impact but again they are going to go after soft targets, they are going to go after institutions of government," Lapan said.

The State Department also condemned the killing. "Violence is never the answer to Afghanistan's problems," said State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

And the Obama administration was avoiding placing blame with the Taliban. "We don't know who's responsible," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "There's been some claims and we will certainly work with the Afghan authorities on that, but right now the moment here is a personal one and we express our condolences and condemn the murder."

And every development in Afghanistan now is evaluated on how it might affect talks between the Karzai government and the Taliban.

"The Taliban will work fast to fill the vacuum left by Ahmed Wali to bolster their negotiating position," said STRATFOR's Reva Bhalla. "He's not irreplaceable, but he's a difficult man to replace. Either way, the U.S. is preparing for an accelerated drawdown from Afghanistan, and we expect a flurry of negotiations to take place in the coming months toward this end."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Karzai • Military
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. zortilonrel

    I've been surfing online more than three hours lately, yet I by no means discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s pretty price sufficient for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the net will probably be much more helpful than ever before.

    December 19, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  2. ukt87

    July 14, 2011 at 5:30 am | Reply
  3. Bob1

    The similarities between the Afghan government and the regimes of South Vietnam (before it fell) are striking.

    July 14, 2011 at 3:02 am | Reply

    afghan girls will never be like her beacoze afghan girls are keeping them body by hijab so the one who is in this video she is from Pakistan she Pakistani Bitch

    July 14, 2011 at 1:40 am | Reply
  5. HERO

    Viva the Brave Taliban

    July 14, 2011 at 12:15 am | Reply
  6. sdgman

    He was Afghani, that means he was currupt. That's what they do.

    July 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Reply
    • Rokon

      US allies has to be corrupt.

      July 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Reply
    • JZKBL

      I dont know where r u from, but u r not in a position and have no right to say that all Afgans r involved in corruption.

      July 14, 2011 at 2:28 am | Reply
  7. Kelly

    Good riddance to Ahmed Karzai. One less wolf in sheep's clothes. He and his brother are corrupt money and power hungry wolves supporting activities that harm their own people, our troop, and the US tax payers (deficit). Anytime a power hungry villain is put down, there seems to be stupid people with fear about who is going to take his place.

    July 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  8. Globe2020

    That country is getting to the point that this type is running it now?? This type used to be donkey riders. Feel truly sorry for Afghanistan and accept our condolences Nato. 120 billion dollar a month this is the biggest joke since the big bang.

    July 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  9. Amrullah Yousafzai in Mingora, Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP)

    YOU YANKS ARE STUPID thinking you will win the war by invading occupying and killing civilians as you are creating more and more enemies everyday which will come back to bite you sooner or later.




    July 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
    • Phil

      The song is comparable to Rebecca Black's "Friday". It sucks just as much.

      July 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Reply
    • sdgman

      Nah, Afghani girls couldn't get near our troops... they smell too much.

      July 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Reply
      • JZKBL

        than u can send ur country's girls who smell fresh and will be fucked by afghans

        July 14, 2011 at 2:52 am |

      look who ever uploaded this video might be she is his sister in Fucking Pakistan so keep her to dance

      July 14, 2011 at 1:45 am | Reply
  10. rrock

    This guy along with his brother are/were thieves. Tell me again why we are in Afghanistan supporting a corrupt government? The terrorists are spread all over the world so we cannot solve the problem playing whack-a-mole in one country.

    July 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Reply
    • Yakobi.

      Because of 9/11. You must have heard about it, it was in all the papers.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Reply
      • rrock

        The 9/11 people came from Saudi Arabia and trained in the US and Spain. Maybe you did not read more than the headlines.

        July 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  11. jake

    The US CIA killed him. FACT!

    July 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • Yakobi.

      Your tinfoil hat has sprung a leak. FACT!

      July 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Reply
      • NoobKiller

        Tinfoil hats work, you've been owned.

        July 14, 2011 at 3:35 am |
  12. outawork

    They just shot the wrong one.

    July 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  13. Starman

    But Bob, one of them is already dead. It can't be a draw.

    July 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  14. StXavier

    Yes the Karzai government is corrupt not just the family. We've spent our treasure in that country an what have we got for that, dead American's an for what????????????????? If we're going to pull out I SAY YES RIGHT NOW all our troupes come out an let them kill each other an if an attach should come from that part of the world I say send them a nuke be dam what the world says I'm tired kissing their A–'es.

    July 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • ozozoz

      What is corruption called in US?
      Answer: Lobbying

      July 14, 2011 at 2:55 am | Reply
  15. Zzzzzzz

    Lawcop, while I agree with you on some points, including taxation, you are an under-educated eediat with a serious superiority complex. How can we expect to compete with countries who are serious about education, if our systems keep spitting out people such yourself, who has no idea that "Africa" is not a country. And since when are China and India "enemy countries"??? Even a two year old knows that China finances the US.

    July 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  16. robert

    wow lawcop that was a very good piece.although it is very true,this corruption is very deep in both the american and canadian governments. if you look at the warmongers the run america they are probably the ones with ownerships or at least on boards of companies of our weapons or machines makers to keep these wars ongoing and making billions.
    look up on google people like the bushs,cheney rumsfeld and many more.keep the war going,its making big money for some people.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Reply
    • victim of democrat hypocrisy

      By your illogic, Robert, your buddy Obama is the biggest warmonger of all. Not only has he not closed GITMO, but he's failed to withdraw the troops from Iraq AND Afghanistan, and he's got us engaged in a third confrontation in Libya.
      So pull your head out before you blanketly blame the Bush administration for all your problems.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  17. Lawcop

    Ahmed Karzai is a criminal donkey just as much as the crooked lowlife phony that is the Afghanistan leader. They are behind a criminal empire and drug cartel in that nation and cannot be trusted. I hope the leader ends up like his half-brother and hopefully others like Assad, Moubarak, Ben Ali, Kaddaffy and other scum of the world will join them in hell. Why should we babysit these gutter trash countries and pay billions in aid including Africa, Peru and Pakistan only to watch our enemy countries like India and China become the new superpower while we go broke. Our Western leaders are imbalanced moronic nutcases who appease pathetic whining foreign lands while ignoring the domestic needs of Canadians and Americans who should come first before parasite others who want a free ride off our tax money. We have rising health care costs, no dental coverages for many in North America, corporate sickening bailouts, poverty, unemployment, first nations in dire straits, seniors who cannot afford medicine, school closures and more while animals in political offices are butt kissing crooked lands like Haiti, Greece and many others or spending money on space programs or weapons. Let weak countries fall under their own incompetence instead of the West always giving out money to foreigners who will never get off our backs like Africa. We need to tax the rich (anyone over $1,000,000.00) and stop nailing the poor people. No more corporate tax shelters as these pigs only abuse the system while the middle class gets sucked into an abyss. If we can jail jackasses like Manuel Noriega we can hammer other lowlifes of the earth and need to stop spending insane money on criminals and prisoners or cowardly illegal criminal migrants who are a cancerous blight on society with their costs and avoidance of proper jail time. We are going down the toilet bowl because of bleeding hearts and we need to adopt a "frontier style justice" and go after monsters like Chavez and others. Good riddance for one less punk on the street Ahmed Karzai of Afghanistan and hopefully others will follow hiss fate and that includes terrorist haven Pakistan, Africa, Morrocco, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Iran and Yemen. The world would be a better place without these demonic animal leaders who make a mockery of humanity. Kaddafy was reponsible for the Lockerbie criminal terrorist act and decades lader this rabid animal acts up again to cause his people grief and the West to spend millions babysitting this wild land. Kaddafy should have been tried as a war criminal years ago instead of the West trying to make him their dance partner and now he is fingering the world. Got to laugh, imbeciles run our nations and are no better than monsters abroad who are traitorous to their own people in betraying the needy.

    July 13, 2011 at 11:49 am | Reply
    • Jeff

      What he said...

      July 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Reply
    • kevin


      July 14, 2011 at 3:53 am | Reply
  18. Victorianism

    So said so sad for peace reality holds.

    July 13, 2011 at 10:33 am | Reply
  19. Bob

    He and his brother are both scumbags, we should let them kill each other, end of story.

    July 13, 2011 at 9:56 am | Reply

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