Violence and Uncertainty in the Wake of Ahmed Wali Karzai Death
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger half-brother of President Hamid Karzai, was shot dead in his home. The shooter, Sardar Mohammed, was a friend of Wali Karzai - served as a security chief for him. The illiterate Mohammed was killed immediately after the shooting, so it is unlikely that the absolute truth of the matter will come to light. That is perhaps part of the reason why the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the shooting, stating that Mohammed had been ordered to carry out the assassination long ago. Given that Mohammed worked for Wali Karzai, it is unlikely that he was also aligned with the Taliban.
The tribal-based power structure in Afghanistan does not lend itself to split loyalties that would be necessary for Mohammed to simultaneously be employed by Wali Karzai while working for the Taliban. Wali Karzai was a power broker, not only because his brother is President, but also because of his family. Afghanistan is ruled "mafia-style" by local leaders that engage in questionable businesses like smuggling, and often resort to violence and intimidation to maintain control of their territories. Wali Karzai was no exception, and had been under scrutiny by the CIA for smuggling of drugs. His past involvement in questionable acts on behalf of his brother, or in the way that he ruled his territory may never be answered, but what is definitively known about his life will probably remain under scrutiny for some time to come.
Some would say that Wali Karzai had lived a violent life, so the fact that the end of it is marked with violence is not surprising. While the Taliban was quick to claim responsibility for his death, they did not claim responsibility for a suicide bomber at his funeral. The death of Wali Karzai leaves a power vacuum in the southern region of Afghanistan, and there are some that think this could be harmful to President Karzai's administration. However, according to the UN, the past six months have been the deadliest. Whether or not Wali Karzai's death is politically motivated, or simply the result of infighting in the criminal underground of Afghanistan remains to be seen. His replacement can either be an opportunity for real change in governance in the region, or can simply be more of the same - thug-like local leadership under a generally unstable central government.