Cablegate: Turks Want Dostum to Stay Quiet in the North
DE RUEHBUL #0399/01 0491307
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 181307Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2871
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 000399
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2018
TAGS: EAID KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: TURKS WANT DOSTUM TO STAY QUIET IN THE NORTH,
AMBASSADOR PRESSES FOR HIS DEPARTURE
REF: A. KABUL 303
B. ANKARA 217
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
1. (C) Turkish Ambassador to Afghanistan Ethem Tokdemir
conveyed to the Ambassador February 14 his government´s
intention to encourage the Afghan Government to permit Dostum
to return quietly to the north. Tokdemir passed a copy of
his talking points cautioning against actions leading to
instability or ethnic tensions and expressing skepticism that
Dostum would be willing to leave for Turkey. He confided
(protect) that he personally sees the Uzbek strongman as
incorrigible and knows him to be in poor health. The
Ambassador said sending Dostum back to his stronghold in the
North would not help Afghanistan and pressed for his
departure. Tokdemir said President Karzai will have the
chance to make his case when he meets the Turkish Foreign
Minister on February 16 in Qatar.
Turkish Ambassador Advocates Dostum´s Quiet Retreat
2. (C) Turkish Ambassador to Afghanistan Ethem Tokdemir
conveyed to the Ambassador February 14 Turkey´s intention to
encourage the Afghan Government to permit Dostum to return to
the north, where the Turks will encourage him to remain quiet
and keep a low profile. Tokdemir passed a copy of his
talking points expressing support for Dostum´s cooperation
against the Taliban, describing him as a partner for
stability, cautioning against actions that would lead to
instability or ethnic tensions, and expressing skepticism
that Dostum would be willing to leave for Turkey (paragraph
7). Tokdemir said the Turkish Foreign Minister hopes to meet
with President Karzai on February 16 at a conference in
Qatar, saying Karzai will have the chance to make his case.
Ambassador Presses to Help Afghanistan, Not Dostum
3. (C) The Ambassador said Turkey´s strategy in the north is
unclear. Turkey appears to be protecting Dostum rather than
the Turkic people in the North, who endure raids,
criminality, political fractiousness, and a crisis every six
months. He acknowledged that supporting action against
Dostum would be difficult for Turkey, but if no action is
taken the status quo will continue and Dostum will emerge
stronger. The U.S. will support whatever Karzai decides, but
there is no shortage of reasons to take action against Dostum
4. (C) Tokdemir confided that he does not necessarily share
his government´s message. He believes Dostum is
incorrigible, recounting that he was drunk at 10 am when he
last met the Turkish prime minister, a devout Muslim.
Nevertheless, Tokdemir said Dostum is politically isolated
and Junbesh party members are trying to convince him to go to
the north and stay quiet. Tokdemir planned to tell Dostum
that he is "the natural leader of the Turkic people in
Afghanistan," but that he has "provoked too many problems."
Tokdemir acknowledged Turkey´s influence on Dostum, noting
that Dostum had said he had interpreted as "an order"
Turkey´s request to turn off the public protests that had led
to the ouster of former Jowzjan governor Juma Khan Hamdard
last year. Tokdemir suggested telling Dostum "we´ve saved
you several times in the past" and this is the last time. He
asked whether this might be an acceptable temporary solution.
Tokdemir added, "I think he will die soon; he is not sound
mentally or physically."
5. (C) The Ambassador repeated that he was not sure how
sending Dostum back to his stronghold in the north would help
Afghanistan, especially if he is mentally unstable.
Arresting him would cause problems, but there is already a
precedent for his departure for Turkey for medical treatment.
KABUL 00000399 002 OF 003
Afghan Government Weakened, Considering Options
6. (C) Foreign Minister Spanta confirmed for the Ambassador
that he talked to the Turks. The Afghan Government would
still like to take some action, but it is not clear whether
they will go as far as making an arrest. For the moment, it
appears that the latest incident has strengthened Dostum and
weakened the Afghan Government.
Talking Points Supporting Dostum
7. (C) Turkish Ambassador´s talking points:
- General Dostum contributed enormously to the fight against
Taliban in the past. He is still a prominent actor in the
anti-Taliban alliance whose cooperation is indispensable.
- It should also be recalled that Dostum is considered a
natural leader by the majority of the Afghan citizens of
- Dostum is not a threat to the Afghan Government or ISAF.
On the contrary he is a "partner for stability", if utilized
properly, for these two parties.
- We certainly believe that any action or arrest
whatsoever against Dostum will negatively affect the
stability of Afghanistan.
- This will inevitably shake the trust of the Turkic people
toward the central government.
- Should such an action lead to a skirmish between
Afghan security forces and the supporters of Dostum, and if
some people, including Dostum, get injured or killed, the
people of northern Afghanistan will definitely take to the
streets. Such an environment
could easily turn into a fertile ground for Taliban
- While Afghan and ISAF forces are busy in the southern and
southeastern provinces, as well as around Kabul, we do not
think it would be wise to lose an ally in the north and
alienate a peaceful community.
- I understand from the meeting between our Ambassadors in
Kabul that you also share our concerns in this regard.
Therefore we would appreciate it if you could kindly share
our common concerns with our Afghan friends as well.
- There is one more point I would like to make. It is not
easy for me to understand the rationale behind letting
Mohammad Akbar Bay free, after all the trouble he has caused.
- One cannot but wonder whether this was an intentional move
to disturb Dostum.
- In countries like Afghanistan where many ethnic groups
live together, peaceful coexistence is of vital importance
for the future of the country. Our main concern is that, an
action against Dostum could lead to ethnic tensions that
would run the risk of upsetting ethnic harmony in Afghanistan.
- Our priority is the maintenance of stability and
ethnic harmony in Afghanistan, rather than defending
the practices of Dostum.
- While we do not concur with Dostum´s many practices, we
still consider him an element of stability for the unity of
Afghanistan and a solid partner against Taliban.
- I would like to assure you that we will continue
advising Dostum to keep his sanity.
- I do not think he would be willing to come to Turkey at