With the news earlier this week that the Kandahar offensive has already begun and the pledges to seize absolute control over the city with a military invasion, one would think NATO’s confidence in fighting over Southern Afghanistan’s major city was relatively high. This seems not to be the case, however.
Instead, Pentagon war planners are seeing a major problem with winning the “hearts and minds” in the restive city. That problem comes, as so many other problems have, in the form of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s notorious half-brother Wali.
Wali Karzai, who has held various government positions in Kandahar since the 2001 US invasion, has been accused of many things over the years. With charges of vote rigging, drug dealing, accepting bribes, and being on the CIA payroll for various “services” it is no wonder that the younger Karzai has often been put forth as the posterchild for Afghanistan’s corrupt, non-credible government.
At the same time, officials say that Wali’s intelligence gathering abilities will be vital to the invasion of the province, and his power in the provincial government is so pervasive that it would be all but impossible to cut him out. But when that military conquest moves from “clear” to “hold,” the dirty dealing that has been the centerpiece of governance in the region will quickly become a major liability, and one for which the military doesn’t seem to have an answer.