The First World War, oftentimes referred to as the Great War, was initiated by a terrorist attack. This attack was implemented via the assassination of the Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia–Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This war led to approximately nine million combatants being killed. This first war was caused by terrorism and today’s war too can easily be argued that it was also caused by terrorism. Interestingly enough, today’s war continues by the constant acts of terrorism like that which just occurred against Ahmad Wali Karzai.
Ahmad Wali Karzai (oftentimes referred to as AWK yet pronounced as “A-Wak”), the half-brother of Afghan President Karzai, was assassinated earlier this week. Of course, this assassination will not have effects like The Great War. However, the implications in Afghanistan, because of this recent terrorist attack, could be overwhelming.
Wali Karzai can arguably have been construed as one of the most influential persons in southern Afghanistan. He has carried votes in the south for his brother during elections. He has employed hundreds if not thousands of persons due to his involvement in the illegal trade of opium. And, people feared him due to his ruthlessness. His death could present a devastating blow to Afghanistan.
Currently, many persons are speculating who was actually involved in this recent attack. Sources in Afghanistan have warned not to jump on the Taliban bandwagon too fast. They have pointed out that Wali Karzai had many enemies in the international drug world. He had rivals who would have loved to see him killed just so they could take over his side of the business. Many locals in Afghanistan believe that the CIA was involved in his death. They believe that this was a warning to President Karzai to get his act together. No matter who killed Wali Karzai, President Karzai now faces a political and social dilemma.
Politically, President Karzai has lost one of the greatest assets he could ever have in the south when it came to procuring voter support. He has also lost a significant influencer in controlling the population in the southern region. The south is one of the most sought after tactical battle spaces for control in the country between Taliban and ISAF. With Wali Karzai’s death, the south may have just fallen to the Taliban. Politically, President Karzai will likely be pressured by the U.S. led coalition to “stay focused on the Rule of Law”–a Rule of Law implemented by Western governments who demonstrated little understanding of local customs and traditions like Pashtunwalli.
Socially, President Karzai has an obligation to handle his half-brothers death in a manner customary to the Pashtun people. According to customary law founded under Pashtunwalli, President Karzai must honor the death of his half-brother through Badal. Badal is a principle founded under Pashtunwalli which literally translates into English meaning revenge. Badal is the means of enforcement by which an individual seeks personal justice for wrongs done against him or his kin group. According to customary law, if an individual is murdered, the family of the victim has the right to seek out up to four family members of the assailant and kill them. In this case, President Karzai, because of his position of power, is the one who must make that call–a call which can inevitably lead to a mega tribal war between the Pashtuns in the south.
Needless to say, President Karzai is now stuck between a rock and a hard place. The rock, being the United States and its coalition partners, will likely pressure President Karzai in not allowing this interference to hinder his international “good standing” as a world leader–a more than comical concept considering his magnitude of corruption. The hard place President Karzai will face stems among his people–specifically the Pashtun’s. They will want him to show his allegiance to the Pashtun people by upholding customary traditions–traditions that can lead to greater atrocities like a tribal catastrophe.
Like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, when terror strikes, oftentimes more persons pay the consequence than those initially impacted by the attack itself. Approximately nine million people were killed due to the slaying of one politician on the 28th of June 1914. How many people could eventually be killed due to the assassination of Wali Kazai on the 12th of July 2011?
Kerry Patton is the Co-Founder of the National Security Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization pending 501c (3) status. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of “Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies” and the children’s book “American Patriotism.” You can follow him on Facebook.