Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has reappointed Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum as his chief of army staff.
General Dostum, for those who don’t know, is “one of the most ruthless warlords” in Afghanistan, and as a member of the Northern Alliance, a U.S. ally and likely C.I.A. asset in the war to overthrow the Taliban following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
It was Dostum who was responsible for the Dasht-i-Laili massacre, in which evidence indicates 2,000 prisoners of the U.S-led war to overthrow the Taliban were suffocated to death in shipping containers.
In addition, there are suspicions that he is involved in the growing arms trade as evidence mounts that the Taliban are purchasing arms from warlords.
While the Obama administration was waiting until after the Afghan elections to announce the decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, there was a lot of talk about pressure on Karzai to do something to clean up the corruption in his government. Dostum was among the key figures named that Karzai was expected to prevent from returning to government, although for Karzai he was a key ally who would secure the Uzbek vote.
Obviously, doing business with corrupt warlords is only a problem when it causes public relations problems for U.S. policymakers. Otherwise, it’s a perfectly acceptable practice. So far, to my knowledge, the U.S. has been mum about Dostum’s reappointment.