Abdul Rashid Dostum

Abdul Rashid Dostum

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Abdul Rashid Dostum is a former pro-Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 fighter during the Soviet war in Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 and is considered by many to be the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek community and the party Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan
Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan
The National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan is an Uzbek political party in Afghanistan. Its leader is General Abdul Rashid Dostum....

. He joined the Afghan military in 1978, fighting with the Soviets and against the mujahideen throughout the 1980s before joining the mujahideen in 1992, after the Soviet withdrawal, to assist in the capture of Kabul. He is a general and the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan National Army
Afghan National Army
The Afghan National Army is a service branch of the military of Afghanistan, which is currently trained by the coalition forces to ultimately take the role in land-based military operations in Afghanistan. , the Afghan National Army is divided into seven regional Corps. The strength of the Afghan...

 a role often viewed as ceremonial. In early 2008 he was removed from his army role because of the Akbar Bai kidnapping incident. Dostum spent a year living in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. In June 2009, shortly before the presidential elections
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

, Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 reappointed Dostum to his post.

Human rights groups have accused his troops of human rights violations, charges which Dostum denies.

Early life


Dostum was born in Khvajeh Do Kuh, Afghanistan. In 1970 he began to work in a state-owned gas refinery in Sheberghan
Sheberghan
Sheberghān or Shaburghān , also spelled Shebirghan and Shibarghan, is the capital city of the Jowzjan Province in northern Afghanistan.-Location:...

, Jowzjan Province
Jowzjan Province
Jowzjān or Jōzjān or Jawzjan is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country. Its capital is Sheberghan.- Demographics :...

, participating in union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

, as the new government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 started to arm the staff of the workers in the oil
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and gas
Gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

 refineries. The reason for this was to create "groups for the defense of the revolution
Saur Revolution
The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e...

". Because of the new communist ideas entering Afghanistan in the 1970s, he enlisted himself in the army. Dostum received his basic military training in Jalalabad. His squadron, in response to increasing conflict, was deployed in the rural areas around Sheberghan
Sheberghan
Sheberghān or Shaburghān , also spelled Shebirghan and Shibarghan, is the capital city of the Jowzjan Province in northern Afghanistan.-Location:...

, under the auspices of the Ministry of National Security.

By the mid 1980s his platoon had grown in stature, reaching a company level
Company (military unit)
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...

 and by the mid-1980s he was in command of over 20,000 militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 and had reached a regimental level
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

. While the unit recruited throughout Jowzjan and had a relatively broad base, many of its early troops and commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

s came from Dostum's home village, Khoja Dukoh, and these represented the core of the unit at that juncture and again when it was reconstituted after the American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Invasion of Afghanistan in 2001
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. He left the army after the purge of Parcham
Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

is, but returned after the Soviet
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

 occupation began.

Soviet war in Afghanistan



As the situation in the Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

 deteriorated with massive uprising occurring all over the country, the then prime minister
Prime Minister of Afghanistan
The Prime Minister of Afghanistan is a currently defunct post in the Afghan Government.The position was created in 1927, and was appointed by the king, mostly as an advisor, until the end of the monarchy in 1973...

 Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

, seized control when he overthrew president
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

 Nur Mohammad Taraki. The KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 reported that Amin sought to cut ties with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and instead ally itself with the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. This prompted the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan and assassinate president Amin in 1979. Soviet military commander announced to Radio Kabul
Radio Kabul
Radio Kabul is the official radio station of Afghanistan. The name Radio Kabul has been given to many different incarnations of the state-run radio station since the first radio transmitters were installed in Kabul in the 1920s....

 that Afghanistan had been "liberated" from Amin's rule.

Mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 attacks were still a problem in the country. By this time Dostum was commanding a militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 to fight and rout
Rout
A rout is commonly defined as a chaotic and disorderly retreat or withdrawal of troops from a battlefield, resulting in the victory of the opposing party, or following defeat, a collapse of discipline, or poor morale. A routed army often degenerates into a sense of "every man for himself" as the...

 rebel
Rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

 forces. This eventually became a regiment and later became incorporated into the defense forces
Afghan National Army
The Afghan National Army is a service branch of the military of Afghanistan, which is currently trained by the coalition forces to ultimately take the role in land-based military operations in Afghanistan. , the Afghan National Army is divided into seven regional Corps. The strength of the Afghan...

 as the 53rd Infantry Division. Dostum and his new division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 reported directly to then-President Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

. Later on he became the commander of the military unit 374 in Jowzjan. He defended the communist Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

 against the American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i-backed mujahideens in the 1980s. While he was only a regional commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

, he had largely raised the militia he fought with by himself. The Jowzjani militia Dostum controlled was one of the few militia forces in the country which was able to be outside of its region. The militia forces were deployed in the city Qandahar in 1988 when Soviet forces withdrew in 1989
Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan
The Withdrawal of Soviet combatant forces from the Afghanistan began on May 15, 1988 and successfully executed on February 15, 1989 under the leadership of Colonel-General Boris Gromov who also was the last Soviet general officer to walk from the Asfghanistan back into Soviet territory through the...

.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

 in 1991 the communist regime faced economic problems. The new Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n government
Government of Russia
The Government of the Russian Federation exercises executive power in the Russian Federation. The members of the government are the prime minister , the deputy prime ministers, and the federal ministers...

 did not want anything to do with their old communist allies. So they stopped sending supplies to the country, which began an economic crisis in the country. The Soviet Union was Afghanistan's main trading partner from the start in 1978. This eventually led to government officials swapping allegiances and would eventually lead to Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

s governments fall in 1992.

Dostum army forces would become an important factor in the fall of Kabul
Siege of Kabul
The term Battle of Kabul refers to a series of intermittent battles and sieges for the city since the Soviet intervention in 1979. Between 1979 until the Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 there were no sieges of the city and the area was largely peaceful. Fighting was mainly in the...

 in 1992. On 18 April 1992 the mujahideen began their revolt against the government of Najibullah. He allied himself with mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, Sayed Jafar Naderi
Sayed Jafar Naderi
Sayed Jafar Naderi Sayed Jafar Naderi Sayed Jafar Naderi (born 1965 in Kayan, Baghlan, and also known as Sayyid Nadir Shah Husayn or simply Sayyid-i Kayan is an Ismaili Afghan who formerly controlled Baghlan Province during the early 90s...

, the head of the Isma'ili community and Baghlan
Baghlan
Baghlan is a city in northern Afghanistan, in the eponymous province, Baghlan Province. It is located three miles east of the Kunduz River, 35 miles south of Khanabad, and about 1,700 metres above sea level in the northern Hindu Kush...

 Province, and together they captured the city of Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

.

After the siege in 1992 he and Masoud fought in a coalition against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

. Masoud and Dostum's forces joined together to defend Kabul against Hekmatyar, with some 4000-5000 of his troops, units of his Shiberghan-based 53rd Division and Balkh-based Guards Division garrisoning Bala Hissar
Bala Hissar
Bala Hissar is an ancient fortress located in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. The estimated date of construction is around the 5th century A.D. Bala Hissar sits to the south of the modern city centre at the tail end of the Kuh-e-Sherdarwaza Mountain...

 fort, Maranjan Hill, and Khwaja Rawash International Airport
Kabul International Airport
-Facilities:The airport has two terminal buildings, the modern for international flights and the Soviet built one for domestic flights. Several hangars along the runway are for military aircraft...

.

Civil War




In 1994, Dostum allied himself with the forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

. Again, Dostum was laying a siege on Kabul which started in 1995 and ended in 1997. This time he was fighting against the government Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

 and Massoud.

Following the rise of the Taliban and their capture of Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 and Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, Dostum aligned himself with Rabbani against the Taliban. Dostum however retreated to the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

At this point he is said to have had a force of some 50,000 men supported by both aircraft and tanks. He was supported by all opponents of the Taliban including Russia, Iran and India. He ruled what was, in effect, an independent region. He printed his own Afghan currency and ran a small airline named Balkh Air.

In October 1996 Dostum came to an agreement with Massoud to form the anti-Taliban coalition that outside Afghanistan became known as the Northern Alliance
United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan
The United Islamic Front , known in the West and Pakistan as the Northern Alliance, was a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996 under the leadership of Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud...

. They vowed to set up a non-fundamentalist government in the nine northern provinces under their control. Their pact was also signed by Abdul Karim Khalily, leader of the Shiite Muslim minority in Afghanistan, whose forces controlled a 10th province. The Taliban controlled all the other 19 Afghan provinces, except a part of Parwan Province north of Kabul that was held by the Massoud forces.

Much like other northern alliance leaders, Dostum also faced infighting within his group and was later forced tor retreat from power thanks to his General Abdul Malik Pahlawan. Initially, Malik was one of Dostum's subordinates, but in 1996 he blamed Dostum for the murder of his brother Rasoul. He then entered into secret negotiations with the Taliban, who promised to respect his authority over much of Northern Afghanistan, in exchange for the capture of Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan is a politician and former mujahideen commander from Afghanistan. Born in the western Afghan city of Herat, he rose to become a powerful rebel commander during in the Soviet War in Afghanistan, and then a key member of the Northern Alliance until finally becoming the Governor of Herat...

, one of their most powerful enemies. Accordingly, on 25 May 1997 he arrested Khan and handed him over and let the Taliban enter Mazari Sharif, giving them control over most of Northern Afghanistan. Because of this treason, Dostum was forced to flee to Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. However Malik quickly realized that the Taliban were not going to keep their promises as they started to disarm his men. He then rejoined forces with the Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
The Afghan Northern Alliance is a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996.Northern Alliance may also refer to:*Northern Alliance , a Canadian white supremacist group...

, and turned against his erstwhile allies, helping to drive them from Mazar-i-Sharif. In October 1997, Dostum returned from exile and defeated Malik, briefly regaining control of Mazar-i-Sharif, and forcing Malik to escape to Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. But in 1998 he was forced to flee to Turkey again.

Dostum returned in 2001. At this time Massoud had used his CIA funds to fly Dostum and his commanders back to open a new front in the campaign against Taliban. Along with General Mohammed Fahim
Mohammed Fahim
Mohammad Qasim Fahim is an Afghan military commander, politician and the First Vice President since November 2009. He was the Defense Minister of the Afghan Transitional Administration, beginning in 2002 and also served as Vice President from June 2002 to December 2004...

 and Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan is a politician and former mujahideen commander from Afghanistan. Born in the western Afghan city of Herat, he rose to become a powerful rebel commander during in the Soviet War in Afghanistan, and then a key member of the Northern Alliance until finally becoming the Governor of Herat...

, Dostum was one of three leaders of the Northern Alliance.

US invasion of Afghanistan



In November 2001, with the beginning of the US invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, and against the wishes of the CIA who distrusted Dostum, a team including Johnny Micheal Spann
Johnny Micheal Spann
Johnny Micheal "Mike" Spann was a paramilitary operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division. Spann was the first American killed in combat during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.-Early life:Johnny Micheal Spann was originally from the small town of...

 landed to set up communications in the Dariya Suf. A few hours later 23 men of Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 595 landed to begin the war.

On 24 November 2001, 300 Taliban soldiers retreated after the Siege of Kunduz
Siege of Kunduz
The Siege of Kunduz took place in 2001 during the War in Afghanistan. After the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif on November 9, the focus of the Northern Alliance advance shifted towards the city of Kunduz, which was the last remaining Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan.Forces under the command of...

 by American
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and Afghan military forces
Afghan National Army
The Afghan National Army is a service branch of the military of Afghanistan, which is currently trained by the coalition forces to ultimately take the role in land-based military operations in Afghanistan. , the Afghan National Army is divided into seven regional Corps. The strength of the Afghan...

. The taliban laid down their weapons a few miles from the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. They eventually surrendered peacefully to Dostum.

A small group of armed foreign fighters drove to Mazar-i-Sharif and were moved to the 19th century prison fortress
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

, Qala-i-Jangi
Qala-i-Jangi
Qala-i-Jangi is a 19th century fortress located near Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. It is known for being the site of a bloody 2001 Taliban uprising named the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi, in which at least 470 people were killed including CIA agent Johnny "Mike" Spann...

. These fighters would use concealed weapons start the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi
Battle of Qala-i-Jangi
The Battle of Qala-i-Jangi took place between November 25 and December 1, 2001, in Northern Afghanistan. It began with the uprising of foreign Taliban prisoners held at Qala-i-Jangi fortress, and escalated into one of the bloodiest engagements of the War in Afghanistan...

 against the Northern Alliance and later British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and American forces. The uprising eventually overpowered the Northern Alliance soldiers placed to defend the prison.

There were unproven allegations in 2001 that Dostum and his forces, who were fighting jointly with US Special Forces, suffocated as many as 2,000 prisoners in container trucks following the Taliban surrender of Kunduz
Siege of Kunduz
The Siege of Kunduz took place in 2001 during the War in Afghanistan. After the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif on November 9, the focus of the Northern Alliance advance shifted towards the city of Kunduz, which was the last remaining Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan.Forces under the command of...

 in an incident that has become known as the Dasht-i-Leili massacre
Dasht-i-Leili massacre
The Dasht-i-Leili massacre occurred in December 2001 during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan where between 250 and 3,000 Taliban prisoners were shot and/or suffocated to death in metal truck containers, while being transferred by U.S...

.

Afghan Government


Dostum served as a deputy defense minister for Karzai in the national government in Kabul. In March 2003, Dostum established a North Zone of Afghanistan
North Zone of Afghanistan
On March 27, 2003, deputy defense minister of Afghanistan general Abdul Rashid Dostum created an office for the North Zone of Afghanistan and appointed officials to it, defying interim president Hamid Karzai's orders that there be no zones in Afghanistan....

, against the wishes of interim president Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

. On 20 May 2003, after narrowly escaping an assassination attempt, Dostum assumed the position of "Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan Armed Forces".

In the aftermath of the Taliban's removal from northern Afghanistan, forces loyal to Dostum frequently clashed with forces loyal to Tajik General Ustad Atta Mohammed Noor after Atta'smen kidnapped and killed a number of Dostum's men and constantly agitated to gain control of Mazar i Sharif. Through the political mediations of the Karzai regime, the U.S.-led international military coalition, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, as well as the UN-run Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration program, the Dostum-Atta feud has largely ended. The two are now generally politically allied as part of a broader ideological effort to protect the interests of Afghanistan's war veterans and to preserve their own power. On 1 March 2005 President Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 appointed him Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief.

Akbar Bai Incident


On 2 February 2008, about 50 of Dostum's fighters reportedly attacked Akbar Bai, a former ally of Dostum who had become his rival. In this attack, which occurred at Bai's home, Bai, his son, and a bodyguard were said to have been beaten, and another bodyguard was said to have been shot. Early on 3 February, Dostum's house was surrounded by police. Bai and the three others were freed and hospitalized. According to the authorities, the stand-off at Dostum's home between his fighters and the police ended with Dostum's agreement to cooperate with the authorities in an investigation of the incident. Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a broadcaster funded by the U.S. Congress that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East "where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed"...

reported on 6 February 2008 that Afghan Attorney-General Abdul Jabar Sabit said charges against Dostum were pending., Sabit said that the political and security situation would make it difficult to prosecute Dostum. The charges, according to Sabit, included kidnapping
Kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

, breaking and entering
Burglary
Burglary is a crime, the essence of which is illicit entry into a building for the purposes of committing an offense. Usually that offense will be theft, but most jurisdictions specify others which fall within the ambit of burglary...

, and assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

. They were dropped by mutual consent and Dostum was reinstated by President Karzai.
According to a spokesman for the United National Front of Afghanistan, Sayed Hussain Sancharaki says that General Dostum has a high profile among his people and is one of the famous political and military figures of Afghanistan. He is Karzai's chief of staff for the armed forces and he is a senior member of the United Front of Afghanistan. It is natural that any kind of action against him will have repercussions. The consequences will be very dangerous—catastrophic—for the stability of Afghanistan."

Human Rights Watch spokesmen Sam Zia-Zarifi, called the charges a sign of Afghanistan's "growing balkanization". He asserted that the size of warlords private armies was increasing, fueled by illicit profits from Afghanistan's Opium trade.

On 19 February, it was announced that Sabit had suspended Dostum from his position as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief after he failed to appear when summoned for the investigation. According to Dostum, this was "not in line with the law", and he said that he would request Karzai's intervention. Three allies of Dostum—Latif Pedram
Latif Pedram
Abdul Latīf Pedrām , Ph.D., is a politician and a Member of Parliament in Afghanistan. He emerged as a controversial figure in the press and political circles for campaigning for women's personal rights, a taboo subject in Afghanistan's culture...

 and two members of parliament—were also summoned for the investigation.

Time in Turkey


Some media reports beginning 4 December said that Dostum was "seeking political asylum" in Turkey while others said he was exiled. One Turkish media outlet said Dostum was visiting after flying there with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan during a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Like most rumors spread about Dostum, it turned out to much less dramatic: Dostum was visiting his Ankara-based wife and children during the holiday of Eid. He continues to maintain strong ties with Turkey.

Political and social views


In most ethnic-Uzbek dominated areas in which Dostum has control or influence, he encourages women to live and work freely, as well as encouraging music, sports and allowing for freedom of religion. While Dostum was ruling northern Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover in 1998, women were able to go about unveiled, alcohol was sold freely, and the cinemas showed Indian films.

He views the NATO attempt to crush the Taliban as ineffective and has gone on record saying that he could mop up the Taliban "in six months", if allowed to raise a 10,000 strong army of Afghan veterans. Senior Afghan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 government officials do not trust Dostum as they show great concern that Dostum is covertly rearming his forces.

Return to Afghanistan


Late at night on 16 August 2009, Dostum made a requested return from exile to Kabul to support President Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 in his bid for re-election. The next day, the last day of campaigning, he flew by helicopter to his northern stronghold of Sheberghan
Sheberghan
Sheberghān or Shaburghān , also spelled Shebirghan and Shibarghan, is the capital city of the Jowzjan Province in northern Afghanistan.-Location:...

, where he was greeted by 20,000 supporters in the local stadium. He subsequently made overtures to the United States, promising he could "destroy the Taliban and al Qaeda" if supported by the U.S., saying that "the U.S. needs strong friends like Dostum."

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