Afghan tribes and local communities have been exposed to foreign patronage since at least the 19th century, but the scale of patronage relative to Afghanistan's internal economy increased dramatically after the late 1970s. Inevitably, this had a major impact on Afghanistan's own internal dynamics and on the mechanisms of political legitimisation. This article focuses on the province of Kandahar, which occupies a privileged space in Afghan politics and history, having given origin to almost all of the country's ruling elites. It deals with three groups of tribal strongmen, who tried to use tribally based patronage systems to stake a claim to local power
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