Abdul Rashid Dostum

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Abdul Rashid Dostum : biography

1954 –

As the situation in the Republic of Afghanistan deteriorated with massive uprising occurring all over the country, the then prime minister Hafizullah Amin, seized control when he overthrew president Nur Mohammad Taraki. The KGB reported that Amin sought to cut ties with the Soviet Union and instead ally itself with the People’s Republic of China and Pakistan. This prompted the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan and assassinate president Amin in 1979. Soviet military commander announced to Radio Kabul that Afghanistan had been "liberated" from Amin’s rule.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 the communist regime faced economic problems. The new Russian government did not want anything to do with their old communist allies. So they stopped sending supplies to the country, which triggered 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’s governments fall in 1992.

Political career

Afghan government

Dostum served as deputy defense minister in Karzai government. In March 2003, He established a North Zone of Afghanistan, against the wishes of interim president Hamid Karzai. On 20 May 2003, Dostum narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

In the aftermath of Taliban’s removal from northern Afghanistan, forces loyal to Dostum frequently clashed with forces loyal to Tajik General Ustad Atta Mohammed Noor. Atta’s men 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 like themselves.

Time in Turkey

Some media reports stated earlier that Dostum was "seeking political asylum" in Turkey "Dostum seeking asylum in Turkey – media reports," Quqnoos.com, 6 December 2008, retrieved 6 December 2008 while others said he was exiled."Afghan general Rashid Dostum flies to exile in Turkey," Deutsche Presse-Agentur via earthtimes.org, 4 December 2008, retrieved 6 December 2008 One Turkish media outlet said Dostum was visiting after flying there with then Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ali Babacan during a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)."Afghan warlord in Turkey but not in exile, official says," Today’s Zaman, 5 December 2008, retrieved 6 December 2008

Return to Afghanistan

Late at night on 16 August 2009, Dostum made a requested return from exile to Kabul to support President Hamid Karzai in his bid for re-election. The next day, on the last day of campaigning, he flew by helicopter to his northern stronghold of Sheberghan, where he was greeted by thousands of his 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."

Taliban era

Following the rise of the Taliban and their capture of Kabul, Dostum aligned himself with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. He stationed his troops in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The United Front, commonly known as the Northern Alliance, was established in late 1996 by Dostum, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Karim Khalili against the Pakistan-backed Taliban. They vowed to set up a non-fundamentalist government in the provinces under their control.

At this point he is said to have had a force of some 50,000 men supported by both aircraft and tanks. He ruled what was, in effect, an independent region. He printed his own Afghan currency and ran a small airline named Balkh Air.Vogelsang (2002), p. 232. Unlike the Taliban controlled south, people in the North were able to watch television, play music and women were able to attend classes at the University of Balkh.