Within a week, two top advisors to Afghan President Hamid Karzai have been killed. The murders of Jan Muhammad Khan, a former provincial governor, and Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s own half-brother, underline the fact that the war in Afghanistan is far from over. The United States is far from victory — and the Taliban, and other radical forces, are far from becoming moderates ready for a diplomatic deal.
Ahmed Karzai’s death is an especially devastating blow to the government. He had been accused of corruption, and wasn’t on the best of terms with the U.S. military, but Ahmed Karzai’s connections and ruthlessness made him a critical force in southern Afghanistan. He was the kind of man upon whom any stable regime would depend following a withdrawal of foreign troops.
The battle for control of the area around Kandahar is a microcosm of the sheer chaos in military and political life in Afghanistan. Many different groups struggle for supremacy — the Taliban, the local Alokozai or Durrani tribe, the government, its coalition allies, and Ahmed Karzai’s faction.