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Afghanistan, Russia and Dostum

October 8, 2015

Summary: Dostum in Chechnya seeking Russian help against terrorism in Afghanistan…

Dostum and Kadyrov

I just saw this brief news article from the Interpreter Magazine:

Yesterday, October 5, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov received Gen. Abdul Rashid Dustum, the first vice president of Afghanistan, he reported on his Instagram page (translation by The Interpreter):“We discussed questions of economic, trade and cultural cooperation. We devoted particular attention to the struggle with terrorism in general and the Ibliss state [ISIS] in particular. Dostum noted that ISIS is trying to make Afghanistan into a bridgehead. In order to prevent this threat, Kabul needs Russia’s support, as in Syria. We expressed confidence that the leadership of Russia will make a positive decision in response to this request.”

LifeNews and Grozny-inform.ru reported that Dostum also noted Chechnya’s real experience in battling terrorism.“Both Ramzan Kadyrov and I have been waging the struggle with international terrorism. And in this field we can make a substantive coalition. We can learn from each other. We don’t have concrete projects of cooperation yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any in the future.”
Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, was once a general in the Afghan army during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, then later became an independent warlord who took part in battles against the mujahideen fighters in the 1980s and the Taliban in the 1990s. He spent some time in exile in Turkey in 2009 before being allowed to return to Afghanistan by then-president Hammid Karzaai.

It will likely be unclear for some while whether the trip serves Afghanistan’s government or Dostum’s own agenda.  Dostum has regularly talked about forming his own army to fight the Taliban if the central government was not up to the job.  Russia is aggressively and pro-actively expanding its military reach, most recently in Syria.  Where next?  The idea of an independently funded and armed Dostum is not a pleasant one.

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