Afghanistan’s Barred Vice President

Abdul Rashid Dostum is not allowed to travel to the U.S. because he is “the quintessential warlord.”

Caren Firouz / Reuters

Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum has had to cancel his upcoming trip to the U.S. because the State Department threatened to refuse him a visa.

The State Department has previously called Dostum, a former U.S. ally, “the quintessential warlord.” Despite Dostum’s past, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who previously referred to him as a “known killer,” put him on the ticket to win the 2014 presidential election.

The New York Times explains:

Mr. Dostum’s ascent to the vice presidency of Afghanistan, despite his past, exemplifies a central American failure in a war it is now fighting for the 15th year. In its effort to defeat the Taliban, the United States has built and paid for a government that is filled with the kinds of warlords and power brokers whose predatory ways helped give rise to the insurgent movement in the 1990s, and who American officials say pose as much of a threat to the stability of Afghanistan as the insurgents themselves.

The Times reported that American officials passed on their threat to deny Dostum a visa to the Afghan government just days before Dostum was to leave for the U.S. Dostum had been scheduled to speak at the UN about narcotics trafficking, despite accusations he has profited from the trade. To avoid further public embarrassment, the Afghan government canceled Dostum’s trip to New York and Washington. The newspaper adds:

At the outset of the war, Mr. Dostum fought alongside Central Intelligence Agency operatives and Special Operations forces to oust the Taliban, and he was initially very close to the United States military. In the years immediately after the Taliban fell, he was known to show American guests at his compound in the northern city of Shibarghan a pistol that he said had been given to him by Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who was then in charge of the United States Central Command.

But Mr. Dostum quickly fell out of favor with his American patrons over his open defiance of the new government in Kabul. In 2004, the United States even sent a B-1 bomber to fly mock bombing runs over his house after his militia seized control of a city in northern Afghanistan from the government.