Though NATO-led efforts have focused on democracy in Afghanistan, US forces still rely on Afghan strongmen to wield local influence. But power built on personalities are vulnerable to collapse.
A slew of assassinations of Afghan officials has the US and the Afghan government on edge about Taliban inroads, particularly in the south, where the assassinations have been concentrated. Here’s a who’s who of four top officials who have been killed in the past few months:
Kandahar's Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi is the latest victim in a wave of assassinations of high-profile Afghan government officials that has many Afghans worried about a leadership void.
The assassination of Ahmad Wali Karzai, President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, could threaten NATO security gains in southern Afghanistan.
Richard Holbrooke's struggle to be heard amid competing US voices in the region has some suggesting that the office of special envoy should be shut down.