New Report: Politics and Power in Kandahar

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.


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. Mr. Forsberg will present his full findings on Kandahar next Thursday, April 29th from 9:00 – 10:30 AM. RSVP and learn more about the event here.
Download Politics and Power in Kandahar by Carl Forsberg
(If you have trouble downloading the PDF, please email me for a Word version)
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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Other Afghanistan research by Carl Forsberg:
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