Yesterday, I wrote for The Atlantic:
At the same time, Ahmed Wali was charismatic, devastatingly charming in person, and skilled at doling out money, resources, access, and favors to make a huge number of Kandaharis either dependent or grateful. In some ways, Ahmed Wali’s method of rule was Afghan politics — reliant on personality, favors, patronage, occasional acts of intimidation or violence, lots of shady business deals to secure a personal fortune. But it was also antithetical to the rule of law, sustainable governance, and even long-term security.
Despite the appointment of Shah Wali Karzai, there is a brewing contest over who will control Kandahar moving forward. Not only the Sherzai family, but a constellation of second-order gangsters, thugs, and strongmen will be vying to secure what’s left of Ahmed Wali’s business and political empire. For the last five years, the International Community, rather than trying to put into place the fundamentals for a government based on the rule of law( actual laws that literate people can read, a functioning police force that isn’t just a lightly armed backup for the Army, bureaucrats, services, taxation, land registries, functioning courts, and so on), they chose instead to rely on Ahmed Wali to get things done on their artificially short, politically expedient time frames. And for a while, it worked.
I’m sure you guys have a lot to say about this.