Months After Installation, Karzai’s Man in Troubled Marjah Replaced

Provincial Officials Cite 'Reform Procedure' in Zaher's Ouster

Just five months after the United States launched a massive military offensive against the fictional city of Marjah, primarily to install Karzai appointee Haji Zaher as head of the district, officials have announced that Zaher has been removed from office and replaced.

Zaher lost his position, according to officials, as part of a “reform procedure” and has been replaced by Abdul Mutalib. They declined to elaborate as to the reasons for his replacement.

However it seems likely that the continued instability in Marjah is no small part of the reason. After hyping the invasion for weeks, US officials predicted an incredibly quick victory to showcase their new “clear and hold” strategy, with one official saying of the overnight invasion that Marjah’s residents would wake up to a new, stable rule.

All these months later that stability has never come, however. Still not a city, Marjah remains a basketcase, with large numbers of US Marines needed to keep the Karzai-appointees, such as they are, installed in the region. Effective governance remains a distant hope, as it does across most of Afghanistan, and a massive number of troops still can’t keep the Taliban out of the district.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of