Afghan president renews bid to rein in northern warlords

President Karzai is soon to install new governors in five northern provinces. Not long ago, the gates to this city bore a portrait of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the regional strongman who – despite his efforts to shake the title – is still known as one of Afghanistan’s most feared warlords. Now the entrance bears double images: one of Mr. Dostum, and one of President Hamid Karzai.

The gesture is part of Dostum’s effort to burnish his image as a man keen to cooperate with the central government in Kabul. But after another round of deadly fighting between Dostum’s soldiers and those of his rival, Ustad Atta Mohammad, the Afghan government has lost patience with promises to turn over a new leaf. Mr. Karzai has ordered the merger of the two men’s militias, and is looking to uproot Dostum and Mr. Mohammad from their ethnic turfs by giving them jobs in Kabul. Adding weight to Karzai’s push, a senior UN Security Council delegation visited the two northern strongmen last week to issue a demand for change. Full Story

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