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Cablegate: Dostum Leaves for Turkey

VZCZCXRO3883
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #3104 3371259
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021259Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6279
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 003104

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR MCGRAW
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV AF TU
SUBJECT: DOSTUM LEAVES FOR TURKEY

REF: A. KABUL 2856
B. KABUL 3028

1. (SBU) Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum departed Afghanistan for
Turkey this week, following a reconciliation ceremony last
month with a political rival and a brief, but notable return
to public life (ref A). Dostum had been living under a loose
form of house arrest after a violent altercation in February.
The clash was the latest in a series of embarrassing
incidents that led many in the Afghan government and Dostum's
predominately ethnic Uzbek Junbesh-e-Milli party to seek a
quiet, honorable exit from the country's politics for the
warlord.

2. (SBU) The Turkish government, long a patron of
Dostum's, had waffled between facilitating Dostum's exit and
maintaining their influence in "Afghan Turk" communities via
the powerful military leader. Turkish Embassy Political
Counselor Erdogan Odabas said Dostum had finally agreed to
make the trip after heavy lobbying by the Turkish government.
Dostum will stay with family in Ankara and may seek medical
treatment for alcoholism. Odabas told us on Dec. 2 he
expected Dostum to stay for several months, but conceded
Dostum may push to return to Afghanistan before next year's
presidential election. He said Turkey will try to convince
the general to stay as long as possible.

3. (SBU) In between his Oct. 26 reconciliation with Akbar
Bai and this week's flight to Turkey, Dostum made a series of
brief public appearances and publicized the ongoing voter
registration process with commercials on his Aina television
network (ref B). The pro-government tone of his appearances
led many to suspect Karzai's reconciliation initiative and
subsequent canceling of Dostum's house arrest came after
Dostum agreed to support Karzai's re-election. Junbesh and
Palace sources deny a specific deal was made, but some
opposition United Front officials say they are no longer
counting on Dostum to rally Uzbek voters for their
presidential candidate next year.

4. (SBU) Dostum's departure leaves a gap in Junbesh's
leadership. Lower House MP Shakar Kargar (Faryab, Uzbek)
said Dostum had left him in charge of political affairs and
designated Junbesh Chairman Sayed Noorullah to handle the
party's administrative issues. However, at least one other
Junbesh MP, Rahman Oghly (Faryab, Uzbek), disputed Kargar's
claim to Dostum's endorsement.
DELL

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