Unrepentant War Criminal Dostum Sworn in as Vice President in Afghanistan

The worlds largest vendors of death and destruction, US defense contractors, must be at their highest state of euphoria ever. Last week, they were able to add Syria to the newly expanded list of fronts on which they are vending weapons for US misadventures (after Iraq had recently been brought back onto the list as well). Today, high fives and the clinking of toasting cocktail glasses must be sounding throughout the beltway as the long-awaited swearing-in of the new Afghan President (Ashraf Ghani) has finally taken place this morning. That means that the biggest and longest-lasting source of their bloodstained wealth, Afghanistan, will continue to pay them handsomely for at least a couple more years, as it is widely expected that the Bilateral Security Agreement will be signed tomorrow, keeping the flow of weapons and destruction wide open.

Nearly lost in all the drama of the prolonged “election” process in Afghanistan is that the first vice presidential candidate on the eventually “winning” ticket headed by Ashraf Ghani was Rashid Dostum. Yes, that Rashid Dostum, as described by McClatchy in 2008:

Seven years ago, a convoy of container trucks rumbled across northern Afghanistan loaded with a human cargo of suspected Taliban and al Qaida members who’d surrendered to Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Afghan warlord and a key U.S. ally in ousting the Taliban regime.

When the trucks arrived at a prison in the town of Sheberghan, near Dostum’s headquarters, they were filled with corpses. Most of the prisoners had suffocated, and others had been killed by bullets that Dostum’s militiamen had fired into the metal containers.

Dostum’s men hauled the bodies into the nearby desert and buried them in mass graves, according to Afghan human rights officials. By some estimates, 2,000 men were buried there.

Earlier this year, bulldozers returned to the scene, reportedly exhumed the bones of many of the dead men and removed evidence of the atrocity to sites unknown. In the area where the mass graves once were, there now are gaping pits in the sands of the Dasht-e-Leili desert.

Dostum and his followers continue to be thugs, adding to tensions last night that led to speculation that Abdullah Abdullah might boycott today’s inauguration (he eventually did show up):

Another bad sign occurred Sunday morning, when Mr. Abdullah’s representatives and those of Mr. Ghani’s running mate as first vice president, Abdul Rashid Dostum, got into a scuffle over office space in the Arg, as the presidential palace here is known, a Western diplomat, who spoke to a witness to the episode, said.

Mr. Dostum is a warlord from northern Afghanistan whose heavily armed followers, wearing civilian clothes, have been much in evidence in Kabul lately.

Mr. Abdullah’s team believed it had been assigned those offices in the Arg for the chief executive officer and his staff, and had already moved in furnishings, when Mr. Dostum’s representatives arrived on Sunday.

“Incredibly enough, they came and cleared them out for Dostum,” the diplomat said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivities involved.

So while Abdullah has been declared to be the chief executive of Ghani’s government, I would expect Dostum and his thugs to move in on more of Abdullah’s territory than just his assigned office space. With billions of US dollars up for grabs over the next two years, I expect Dostum to waste no time in grabbing all he can while laughing at anyone who would dare to say it isn’t his.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
25 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    Thomas Ruttig has a complete analysis of the run-off election and audit here.

    According to the IEC result sheet shared with both candidates on 21 September (see annex 1), Ghani received 3,935,567 votes (55.27 per cent) and Abdullah 3,185,018 votes (44.73 per cent). This is a difference of over ten per cent and almost 750,000 votes. The total number of valid ballots cast was given as 7,120,585.

    In the election, Abdullah Abdullah took 45 percent of the vote in the first round and his main opponent Ashraf Ghani polled 31.6 percent. So Ghani apparently oiucked up all the votes that Abdullah missed. But there was a lot of corruption, of course. We’re used to that.

    Abdullah 45% –> 44%
    Ghani 31% –> 55%

    Meanwhile, generally unreported in the US media, in Helmand Province, the focus of Obama’s surge, where more than 900 international soldiers have been killed, the outlook is not good according to a recent report in the UK Guardian:

    Summer offensive overruns checkpoints as Afghan security forces struggle to contain insurgency.

  2. Don Bacon says:

    Oh, goody.
    KABUL – Senior US presidential adviser John Podesta said on Monday that Afghanistan will sign a deal on Tuesday to allow American soldiers to remain in the country after the end of the year, ABC News reported.
    .
    Why mess with success? /s

      • TarheelDem says:

        And Hong Kong is now in turmoil. Nostalgia must be strong in the foreign relations establishment: Cold War, Council of Vienna, First Opium War….need some way to soak up the overproduction between Afghanistan and the Golden Triangle. And provide a hedge against Congressional budget cuts.

    • Garrett says:

      So Afghanistan, a desperately poor country wrecked by long decades of war, gets a strongly reform-minded technocrat as president. He talks of putting a woman on the Supreme Court. Of fighting poverty. In a nation with income inequality measures nowhere near what the U.S. has, of reducing inequality.

      The major question of his presidency will be whether his reform objectives will be successful, given the severely entrenched obstacles to progress. An additional obstacle now is the power-sharing arrangement, specifically with the old jihadi warlord crew. The exact guys that have been one of the biggest obstacles to progress all along.

  3. TarheelDem says:

    First VP, you say. Does that mean that Dostum is a heartbeat away from the Presidency?

    Putting oneself in the position of Ghani and Dostum, what exactly would you want to see out of a bilateral agreement with the United States?

    From Dostum’s perspective, what is the scenario that leads him to the sort of power that Sisi appears to have and the ability to suppress the Taliban like the Moslem Brotherhood is suppressed in Egypt?

    What possibly could the US do for Ghani that provides him a long lifetime, besides a nice setup in a Gulf state condo?

    How will the coming bilateral agreement do more than kick the can to Hillary Clinton? In what way will it do more than postpone the lifting of impunity on American solidiers and contractors?

    Iran’s situation: Instability to the west; instability to the east; enemies to the south; potential Ukraines to the north. No wonder Cheney’s presence on the media is beginning to rival McCain’s and Graham’s.

    Expecting to have some more “Mission Accomplished” media moments between now and November 4.

    But at least Dostum isn’t ISIS, right?

  4. Don Bacon says:

    Not to quibble, but “war criminal” has been a job requirement at every top “national security” post, plus anybody else who supports them, in the US since colonial days (pre-US), when the native Americans were largely exterminated.

  5. Don Bacon says:

    Ghani has called for peace talks with Taliban, which has said no dice as long as Americans stay. I don’t blame them. Afghanistan will remain as a US colony until the US military is booted out, to sink or swim on its own, as initially in Iraq (but now the US is baaaack in Iraq, sort of).
    .
    But leaving is not an option. Afghanistan will continue to be a “national security” focus for the US because it is the keystone to Central Asia and the US’s longstanding “New Silk Road” policy, which has been high on H, Clinton’s bucket list by the way. Keeping the Taliban “insurgency” active is key to the US strategy of staying in Afghanistan. Keeping Afghanistan’s “leaders” on the payroll is also part of the strategy, as JW says. It doesn’t matter much who they are.

  6. bsbafflesbrains says:

    The U.S. will never “own” Afghanistan. The energy robber barons won’t give up that quest because they have painted themselves in a corner and the MICC is all in for perpetual war. Where will Karzai be in a few years and how much will he be worth?

  7. ArizonaBumblebeeper says:

    Every day I wake up hoping that the new day will bring better news. Unfortunately, I turn on my laptop and find the same old theater of the absurd is still playing itself out on the world stage. If you want to understand what is really going on, you need to look for the hidden meaning in every story coming out of Washington. For example, the story about the Khorasan Group isn’t about potential al Qaeda terrorism; it’s really about a psyops campaign to justify bombing in Syria. And bombing Syria is principally not about promoting democracy or stopping IS in that country but about degrading Iranian and Russian influence in the Middle East. Meanwhile, I learned why America sanctioned Russia’s oil companies (and it has nothing to do with Ukraine). America is determined to thwart Russia’s ambition to become the next Saudi Arabia by tapping into its potentially vast oil and gas deposits in the Kara Sea. Meanwhile, Afghanistan has a new president, who will become America’s obedient puppet in this southern gateway to Central Asia and help thwart Chinese (and Iranian) ambitions in the area. (Afghanistan is supposedly awash in rare earth metals and is a potential route for an oil or natural gas pipeline.) When I turned on my television set and saw the demonstrations in Hong Kong, my immediate reaction was to wonder if the CIA or MI6 were working behind the scenes to foster what is taking place there.

  8. overthrow-r1b says:

    Great, another country with the CIA as their president. -just assuming, not that we know anything at all from inside the u.s. media cloak.

    Another “democratic state” to ad to the list,
    how perfect for “their” future: http://s27.postimg.org/7xqt29igz/0_00.jpg

    We can expect the beginning of high speed multigenerational genocide/eugenics/epigenetics, as in the west the most ethnic individual’s will start disappearing and dying without children at high rates mysteriously. Any individual with low intelligence as well as all individuals in order of proximity to western European r1b related x/y dna will start propagating rapidly and assuming all well paying jobs and “just plain ending up” with all the land ownership…

    everybody must go to r1b designed schools where they can be evaluated and brain mapped for 13 years so r1b’s can decide if they’ll have children, own land, and have money.

    – There’s quite a large percentage of r1b and r1a individuals in Afganistan, I don’t know anything at all about them, I’ve never seen one, for all I know they could be the best , healthiest people in the world, i’m just trying to make a basic point with what’s occurring in the west.

    -about 4 years ago I saw a language area map of Afganistan, no surprise there was a bunch of little pockets of Arabic speakers all over the boarder area Pashtunistan. I cannot locate that map at all anymore and only see contradictory ones. of course this would explain allot as it’s indicative of semitic genetics and appeared likely that Islam would begin pouring into india’s massive population from that point. How nice of western European r1b’s to decide asias genetic and political future for them.
    Furthermore the native americans were not only “r” and “q” ydna when western European’s arrived they were most likely primarily “c” and “d” ydna which probably would have made the entire hemisphere a mostly Muslim and secondarily a Bhuddist people.

    Thank you ladies and gentlemen, that you very much.

      • overthrow-r1b says:

        What specifically don’t you understand? Disrespectful considering the reality of my topic and it’s relevance to your article.

        Go ahead and sensor it like they’ve illegally taken down my websites and commentary on other sites; if it was such incoherent gibberish my statements would simply be ignored like the other 2 billion imbeciles commenting on the internet.

        If it was such incoherent gibberish what’s with my 5-star persecution record?, seems quite a bit overboard for some writing that doesn’t make any sense.

        Maybe you should make a better attempt to comprehend the comment before you make a statement like that.

        • Jim White says:

          Far from not understanding. I have a PhD in molecular biology and I know genetic gibberish when I see it. Move on. Your crazed bullshit has no audience here.

        • Jim White says:

          .
          Yes I am deleting any comments you make that venture into the same never-never land of fabricated genetics or any complaints you make about that process.
          .
          Should you find it within your power to make a comment that is pertinent to the thread, it will stand.

  9. Don Bacon says:

    According to the Pentagon there are currently 24,000 US troops in Afghanistan. That would drop to these planned figures:
    .
    Jan 2015 9,800
    Dec 2015 5,000
    Dec 2016 0
    .
    But plans are meant to be changed, if the situation is misjudged.
    .
    Obama: US misjudged Iraqi army’s ability, militants’ threat
    Obama: US misjudged Afghan army’s ability, militants’ threat
    Obama: US misjudged Yemenii army’s ability, militants’ threat
    Obama: US misjudged Syrian army’s ability, militants’ threat

  10. Bob Stapp says:

    I would be remiss if I didn’t weigh in here.

    Is Dostum an unrepentant war criminal? Yes, without a doubt. Is he also a near-terminal alcoholic? Yes. Is he also illiterate? Yes.

    Ghani brought him in for two main reasons. A lot of votes came with him and Ghani, a pragmatist, believes in keeping friends close and enemies closer.

    Ghani, who is as clean a politician as you can find in Afghanistan (and pretty much anywhere else), is perfectly capable of keeping Dostum in check and is already showing how it’s done. It won’t be as easy with Abdullah but that’s the negotiated reality that everyone is going to have to figure out how to live with.

    Ghani is losing no time in sending clear and strong messages. For instance, he just announced that the investigation into the Kabul Bank debacle is being re-opened and I would suspect that there’s a run on seats on flights out of town this very afternoon.

    Ghani’s major liability is that he’s more a westerner than he is an Afghan. I believe he will head in a very positive direction very quickly but his lack of a full understanding of the byzantine machinations of Afghan tribal and ethnic politics may trip up the execution.

    • JPG says:

      Agree. That seems logical. “To keep Dostum in check” OR as I mentioned. To disarm him and lock him in the Presidential Prison. Same thing.

  11. JPG says:

    Read the book “The Last Warlord” Dostum. Then read the book” j- is for Jihad” . Two books that contradict each other in regards to General Dostum. I think this is the “man with the plan”. The solution to eliminating the Taliban altogether. There was a lot of confusion as to why Ghani, a Pastun, would elect an Uzbek Warlord as his running mate? I’m hoping it wasn’t to disarm him by placing him in the presidential palace, I mean presidential prison. Remember…this is the man that the CIA recruited for help back in 2001 to overthrow the Tailiban government via horseback! Those were his horses our finest rode on.Then our government thanked him and turned their backs. Typical. Hopefully Ghani will let Dostum do what he’s best at….fighting.

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