The Taliban claimed responsibility yesterday for the death of the half-brother of the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, who was shot dead by his own head of security. This was perhaps the most high-profile assassination of the last decade in Afghanistan.
Ahmad Wali Karzai had many enemies. He was probably the leading powerbroker in southern Afghanistan. In the early years he was in the pay of the CIA, running an Afghan militia which operated under US direction. But he was also a warlord mired in corruption and openly involved in the drugs trade. Kandahar is a crucible of chaos and his removal is likely to set off a power-struggle involving a variety of clans, factions and warlords. More assassinations are likely in the region of which the old Afghan proverb says: "Whoever controls Kandahar, controls Afghanistan".
It seems certain that chaos will continue until US and British forces are withdrawn, and possibly long after. Optimists will say that Karzai's rank corruption acted as a recruiting sergeant for the Taliban and his death will improve the situation long-term. There could now be an even bloodier period before we get to that.