Kabul Tomorrow Unknown
Kandahar Tomorrow Sunny
Herat Tomorrow Unknown
Mazar-i-sharif Tomorrow Unknown
Ghazni Tomorrow Sunny
Jalalabad Tomorrow Sunny
Bamiyan Tomorrow Sunny
Zaranj Tomorrow Sunny
Mimana Tomorrow Sunny
The Killid Group
Kandahar: Waiting for Wali KarzaiWritten by Reza Gulkohi
Sunday, 06 June 2010 09:49
People of Kandahar province have been plagued by insecurities and anxieties since the NATO Commander General Stanley Mc Chrystal announced the imminent launch of operation 'Omid'. While making the announcement General Mc Chrystal said that all preparations had already been made and that he was only counting the minutes until President Hamid Karzai gave the order for the launch of the operation. President Karzai on the other hand, has said the operation would only be launched when the people of Kandahar were convinced about the operation and until now the order to launch it has not been issued.
However, the Taliban has already responded sharply to the announcement of the proposed plans and said that they will not repeat the mistake they made in Marjah by leaving their strongholds. They have announced that they would fight against the coalition with all their strength and that they are planning to deploy more insurgents in Kandahar.
The focus on Operation Omid has also focused attention on one of the most powerful men in Kandahar, Ahmad Wali Karzai, the brother of President Karzai who wields considerable influence in the province. Some of the American officials even consider Wali Karzai as a main obstacle in the way of this offensive and have suggested that they will deal with him if he creates any obstacle to this offensive. Wali Karzai has also been linked to the drug trade in the western media, which has also written that he governs Kandahar province with the help of the 'Kandahar Task Force'.
Kandahar is one of the most important cities in Afghanistan with a critical role in history. During the time of the Taliban, Kandahar, rather than Kabul, emerged as a centre of political power and Mullah Omar was reputed to hardly ever leave the province to visit Kabul. It is considered now to be a major stronghold of the Taliban and a base for Al Qaeda operations and has emerged therefore as a critical area where the U.S. and NATO forces wish to establish their control.
President Karzai's brothers Qayoom and Ahmad Wali are governing this province using traditional and tribal allegiances. They have the support of the Popalzai and Barekzai tribes but other tribes who feel alienated have turned to the Taliban.
It has been reported that General McChrystal, a very intelligent and experienced commander controlling over 120,000 NATO and US troops, believes that the military operation alone cannot bring a change to the province. A change in the administration of Kandahar province would require the cooperation of Wali Karzai as the Governor, Baryalai Wesa, lacks authority. Wesa, who was appointed at the behest of the Canadians, is reported to even lack the authority to appoint and sack officials and is seen as a figurehead who requires the goodwill of Wali Karzai in order to survive.
Wali Karzai has complete control over the Kandahar Provincial Council which he heads as an elected provincial council member, and he has used this authority to shut down the council as a protest when he is accused of drug trafficking The move is intended to convey the message that his power and authority in the province should not be ignored.
However, what is not clear is why the western media continues to report on him exaggerating his powers and his role in Kandahar politics and his backing from the CIA. Recent reports have suggested that Wali Karzai has offered to share his powers with Governor Wesa though the details of this offer are still unclear.
Wali Karzai also receives the support and backing of his brother, President Karzai. Even during his visit to Kandahar when a number of tribes in the area, particularly the Noorzai tribe, expressed their dissatisfaction with the balance of power, President Karzai did not criticize his brother but only pretended he was neutral.
Americans are however very clear that a change in the province will not be yielded just by Operation Omid but by a change in the behaviour of Wali Karzai. Will Wali Karzai's recent moves to share power be enough? Will McChrystal be satisfied with the continuation of a situation where the Kandahar Governor has no power? These are the questions for the future.
In the midst of these clashes and conflicts it is ordinary Kandaharis who will be sacrificed. They are now waiting for McChrystal to fulfill the promises he made about restoring peace to the area. Under pressure from the Taliban several investors and traders had already moved out of the province to Kabul, Herat and even Dubai. Will they return? Will the hopes and expectations of the locals be fulfilled?