KARZ, Afghanistan â€”
Â President Hamid Karzaiâ€™s helicopter touched down at the family cemetery in a plume of dust Wednesday morning after the rest of the mourners had assembled, arriving by foot and in fleets of armored cars.
Under the white dome of the open-air mausoleum, the president stood for a moment and looked into the open grave that had been cut from a marble floor. The body of Ahmed Wali Karzai â€” his slain half-brother, the most influential power broker in southern Afghanistan â€” lay beneath a white sheet.
At the cemetery in Karz, the president bowed his head and appeared to be crying. The crowd surged in all around. Frantic bodyguards shouted and pushed against the mourners in vain.
â€œGo away, go away â€” youâ€™ll bring him more sin,â€ one person shouted. Men in turbans wailed their misery. Cabinet ministers and army generals craned their necks for a view.
The president did not make a sound. Carefully, he stepped down into the grave and knelt over his brotherâ€™s body; it is customary here to see the faces of close relatives before they are buried. A web of men closed over the president, interlocking limbs in a hot press of bodies sweating through their clothes.
After a few seconds, Hamid Karzai climbed out of the grave, walking past the burial site of his father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, whose murder in 1999 galvanized his own political ambitions. The president slipped into a waiting car and departed. The gravediggers went back to work.
[I think a more accurate account is that Hamid KarzaiÂ wept for some time in the grave and had to be Â pulled out of it by others]
U.S. and Afghan officials say it is possible that the Taliban may have influenced Mohammadâ€™s decision to kill Karzai. But they also note that Karzai, who wielded enormous power in southern Afghanistan, had many political enemies.
Elsewhere in Kandahar province, officials said, the governor of Helmand province and his intelligence chief were the targets of a remote-controlled bomb attack as they traveled to the funeral Wednesday morning. Both men escaped without injury, but two soldiers were hurt by the blast.
(Joshua Partlow) The Washington Post
CommentÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â There is much comment about theÂ Â loss ofÂ Hamid Kharzai'sÂ half-brotherÂ being a blow to theÂ US and NATOÂ Â hope to arrangeÂ an exit throughÂ talks with theÂ Taliban. He was their main man in the south, where the Obama Â "surge"Â strategy had beenÂ focused .Â It wasÂ intended toÂ bring the Taliban to the tableÂ to deal.Â This strategy, which General David PetraeusÂ persuaded President Obama to adopt was wrong-headedÂ from Â the start and based on a fundamental ignorance ofÂ Afghanistan that has persistedÂ since 2001.
Â TheÂ US militaryÂ (and theÂ many uncontrolledÂ and monitored Â private contractors and NGOs)Â didn't listen to, understand or work with President Hamid KarzaiÂ . As a tribal leader (Â whose father was a powerful leader, murderedÂ by fundamentalist Taliban after being promisedÂ security as a condition forÂ his attending peace talks with them)Â Â understood Afghanistan andÂ how to work with the situation whenÂ he became President.Â
Â An ongoingÂ civil war, following the Soviet exitÂ in 1989, Â whose occupationÂ destroyed what had been a peaceful and economically- developingÂ AfghanistanÂ which had already benefited Â the poor,Â helped by both American and Soviet aid projectsÂ over some years.Â (IÂ saw this in the 60's and 70'sÂ personally).Â The civil war has persisted, and the young Taliban fighthers from Pakistan had succeeded in controlingÂ most of the country by the late 90's and establishing moreÂ security and reliable courts and justice Â than the nation had known yor manyÂ years. Â
After the fall of the Taliban government in 2001Â , the problem was working with the many tribes while there was - and stillÂ is -Â dividedÂ provinces and warlords.
We often attacked tribes that were opposed to Kharzai's tribes,Â andÂ yet also at the same time supported warlords that were opposed to any government development. WeÂ contributed much to Â making things worse and us hated.Â We broughtÂ much Â corruption which Kharzai had nothing to do with creating.Â The governmentÂ Â couldn't payÂ $200,000 per annum to an Afghan with a high school or less education but an ordinary NGOÂ could and did.Â Â
We are now targeting and Â killingÂ younger Taliban leaders who areÂ more amenable to truce than theÂ Â older Taliban leaders we are hoping to force to the table to make a deal .Â Pakistan will make sure thatÂ their Taliban tribes will supply anÂ unlimited number of fighters.Â Overall,Â a wrong-headed and ignorant policyÂ by the AmericanÂ strategists. We consistentlyÂ Â have dictated to Kharzai and undermined his position Â andÂ often blamed himÂ out of our own ignorance what has gone wrong.Â HeÂ has the goodwill of many Afghans although Â theÂ government doesn't . He needs and wantsÂ supportÂ long-term from other nations and good relations and economic cooperation with Afghanistan's neighbors, evpeciallyÂ Iran, Russia, China, India and Pakistan.Â Â And to deal with the ongoing civil war and the export of narcotics worldwide, Afghanistan's neighbors have strong interests in stabilizing and controlling. The US has concentrated on completing 40 military bases and a 500 million dollar upgrade of its embassy in Kabul, being done by Â American companies. The main effort has been military, now more focused on a long term counter-insurgency strategy. It is not unfair toÂ suggest this policy had a possibility of success back in 2001. As our late representive Richard Holbrooke noted last December, 'The war in Afghanistan is a sideshow. The real war is in Pakistan.' The US needs to engage with all the nations in the region about AfghanistanÂ ifÂ Â there is to a stabilization of the nation.Â