As a third to half of Afghanistan’s economy is carried by illegal opium trade, it is not surprising that the country is corrupt. Transparency International now ranks it as the world’s most corrupt nation, a title it shares with North Korea and Somalia. “Criminality exacerbates the fragmentation of Afghan society and increases its susceptibility to insurgent penetration,” Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of allied forces in the country, wrote in 2009. “A number of Afghan Government officials, at all levels, are reported to be complicit in these activities, further undermining [the Afghan government’s] credibility.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai himself is ready to admit that his government is “rife” with corruption, but stresses that U.S. contractors are also to be held responsible for this. Foreign observers have often put the blame of pervasive corruption within the administration on President Karzai himself, who along with his family established “across the country the system of patronage and control that exists in Kandahar,” then Canadian Ambassador Ambassador William Crosbie told his U.S. counterparts in 2010. Karzai’s brother Ahmed Walid, who was killed last year by a body guard, has been accused of running a significant part of the country’s opium trade.