Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum wasn’t always a politician. During the Soviet occupation he was a general in the pro-Soviet military, and in the decades that followed he was a powerful warlord fighting against the Taliban, and committing some major war crimes.
Dostum has played some political positions during the NATO occupation as well, and rose to Vice President with the 2014 election. Some habits die hard, however, and he’s back in the warlording business, announcing from his palace in the Jowzjan Province that the president won’t allow the military to fight the Taliban, so he’s going to.
He followed this up by calling for a large number of militias to rally behind him, announcing he is now leading the war against the Taliban in three provinces with this new collection of fighters. They’re not ideological groups, however.
Locals say the militias are just as big a problem as the Taliban, and in the places they’ve “liberated,” they are killing people and looting indiscriminately. The militias are also fighting among themselves, trying to gain more favorable positions in the new Dostum coalition, and more favorable shares in the looting.