One Less to Worry About

by Joshua Foust on 4/25/2011 · 8 comments

I was kind of surprised he didn’t go back to Germany, but considering that’s where he stabbed his stepson for criticizing his desire to beat his wife I’m not all that surprised he stayed in Helmand. Haji Zahir is dead. The “governor” of Marjah, the man so imperfectly perfect Stanley McChrystal himself ferried him from Germany to central Helmand province to spearhead the “government in a box” they never quite got around to building… Haji Zahir is dead.

Permit me this brief moment of callousness. ISAF knew this man had a violent, disgusting past, and chose to conceal that when it first brought him to the area. His tenure of the Marjah area can only be called terrible. And within six months he was exiled from the District Sub-governor’s house. He was not a good man, or a good leader, or a good anything (maybe a good thug). Even his recent appointment as deputy of the Helmand Peace Council—a joke as sick as describing Ahmed Wali Karzai as “honest”—made the man out to seem an opportunist seeking money, rather than a patriot seeking a future.

Reading the report on his death, we see a scene from the Sopranos: the head of the Helmand Peace Council invites his deputy Zahir to dinner at his home in Lashkar Gah, and anonymous gunmen break into his house and kill Zahir, leaving the head of the council unscathed.

Lashkar Gah is one of seven areas to be handed over to Hamid Karzai’s administration in July. Seems they’re getting a head start.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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anan April 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Haji Zahir was Karzai’s guy . . . not McChrystal’s guy. Afghans have to lead this and make their own mistakes. Mistakes like Haji Zahir.

Joshua Foust April 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Anan, that’s simply not true. Governor Mangal and General McChrystal wanted Zahir over the objections of Hamid Karzai.

anan April 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

So Abdul Zahir Aryan was Mangal’s guy? Is there evidence that Karzai objected to Abdul Zahir Aryan early on . . . before the press started digging into his history?

RScott April 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm

As an Afghan acquaintance of mine continues to say, they (the government people) are there to make money, not help the people of their country, and nothing will change until the government changes (top or bottom). And for the foreigners, they are there to waste money and pass the time. And no one is there long enough to understand what is going on.
Violent reform is needed to end corruption which is at the base of many of the problems.

Grant April 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

‘Violent reform’ to ‘end corruption’? That’s laughable, do you really think the people calling the hits will actually reform anything when in power? If memory serves things actually went from bad under the warlords to at least as bad (if not worse) under the Taliban.

Mirwais April 26, 2011 at 2:23 am

The Taliban were a lot of things, corrupt weren’t one of those.

anan April 26, 2011 at 2:56 am

The Taliban were a lot of things. Corrupt “WAS” one of them.

It is true that some members of the current GIRoA are even more corrupt.

The Taliban are a coalition of many different warlords and militias. Some differ significantly from each other.

Johny Matrix April 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm


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