New Report: Politics and Power in Kandahar

Printer-friendly version

Contact: Megan Ortagus
(863) 398-8164 cell
April 21, 2010

Carl Forsberg's comprehensive study reveals the strong personality-driven political order emerging in Afghanistan which undermines ISAF' goals.

Washington, D.C. - As US, NATO and Afghan allies prepare for a new military offensive in Kandahar province this summer, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has released a fifth report, Politics and Power in Kandahar by Carl Forsberg, from the highly acclaimed Afghanistan Report series. This report reveals ISAF's persistent inconsistencies in dealing with Ahmed Wali Karzai's consolidation of power and proposes a new political-military strategy that is necessary for successful counterinsurgency operations.

"ISAF must implement a coherent and coordinated governance strategy in both Kabul and Kandahar for kinetic operations to be successful in the long-term," Afghanistan scholar Carl Forsberg explained. “The popularity of Ahmed Wali Karzai has dramatically decreased in Kandahar because of gross mismanagement and lack of good governance; this only fuels the insurgency and gives legitimacy to the Taliban as an opposition."

The 2 page executive summary and 57 page report by ISW provides a detailed and authoritative overview of the historical governance structures in Kandahar, Kandahar’s current powerbrokers, the serious weakness of government institutions and Afghan security forces in Kandahar and the rise of the Karzai family.

Download Politics and Power in Kandahar by Carl Forsberg

Key finding and recommendations:

  • Kandahar is strategic terrain for the Quetta Shura Taliban and the Karzai family, and a central focus of ISAF's 2010 counterinsurgency campaign.
  • Ahmed Wali Karzai's influence over Kandahar is the central obstacle to any of ISAF's governance objectives, and a consistent policy for dealing with him must be a central element of any new strategy.
  • While most actors in Kandahar call themselves tribal leaders, few influential actors in Kandahar derive their influence from this position. Control over guns, money, and foreign support have become more important as sources of power.
  • Anti-government sentiments are exploited and aggravated by the Taliban. Many of the local powerbrokers who are excluded from Ahmed Wali Karzai’s network see the Taliban insurgency as the only viable means of political opposition.

Other Afghanistan research by Carl Forsberg:

The Taliban's Campaign for Kandahar

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization. ISW advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation's ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives.