|History and Biodata
A new political party has been launched by dissidents from Abdul Rashid Dostum’s Jombesh. Jombesh-e Nawin-e Afghanistan (New Movement of Afghanistan) officially declared its existence – the step traditionally taken by new Afghan parties before officially registering – at a press conference on 11 June 2017.
The new Jombesh party’s launch happened after the ‘old’ Jombesh’s leader Abdul Rashid Dostum, former warlord of Uzbek ethnicity who is also the country’s First Vice President, left Afghanistan for Turkey (20170519). Ostensibly, this trip was for ‘medical treatment’. In fact, it amounted to an all-but-official dismissal from his position in response to Dostum’s involvement in a high-profile case of violence against a former political ally Ahmad Eshchi, Ahmad Khan Ishchi. While in Turkey, Dostum joined a new tripartite Etelaf bara-ye Nejat-e Afghanistan (Alliance for the Salvation of Afghanistan) forged in his Ankara residence; it is a coalition between his ‘old’ Jombesh, Jamiat-e Islami and the wing of the Hazara-dominated Hezb-e Wahdat led by Muhammad Muhaqqeq .
While the new party still has to register, the new Jombesh is, for now, led by a temporary executive council. The first party congress will be held “soon” according to Muhammad Alem Sa’i Mohammed Aleem Sayee Mohammad Alam Sai the party’s current leading figure. Sa’i is a former governor of Jowzjan (2010-2013) and, at the time, has led an interesting group of younger Turkish-educated reformers called the Aidan Group. The members of this group owe their careers to Dostum after he had selected them for scholarships abroad. They tried, after their return to Afghanistan, to win his support for their own claim to the party leadership, but this failed. In 2013, Dostum and Sa’i fell out over the latter’s refusal to join the opposition alliance to which Dostum then still belonged, the National Front of Afghanistan. After protests staged by Dostum’s followers against Sa’i, and an attack on his residence, the central government decided to replace Sa’i as governor.
Afghan observers with knowledge of Jombesh’s internal discussions said they believe Turkey played a role in the promotion of the younger generation of Afghan Uzbeks now leading the New Jombesh and supported the removal of Dostum from the Afghan scene by agreeing to host him. A number of the new party’s leaders, including Sa’i, have studied in Turkey – ironically with grants handed out via Jombesh. They also believe that the Afghan government, with possible support by Washington, obtained President Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s support to host Dostum again. In exchange, they say, Ghani conceded control over a network of Afghan-Turk schools to the government in Ankara in February 2017.
Names linked to new Jombesh:
Known politicians among the new party’s leaders who are mentioned in the media include Jamahir Anwari (a Turkmen and former Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Affairs), Hashim Ortaq (an MP from Faryab), Nazari Turkman (a former deputy speaker of the Wolesi Jirga from Kunduz) and Ezzatullah Amed, former head of Kabul Polytechnic. Former Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani has denied his reported association with the party.
Ahmad Eshchi, son of an arbab (rich landlord), and former governor of Dostum’s home province Jawzjan in the 1990s, and his son Baktash Eshchi, who is a member of Jowzjan’s provincial council, have also joined. Eshchi – formerly and better known as Engineer Ahmad – was involved in a widely reported personal conflict with Dostum in late 2016, after which Eshchi accused Dostum of serious physical assault and abuse. Muhammad Alem Kohkan, is the secretary of the New Jombesh
Jombesh-i-Mulli, also known as Jombesh-i-Milli Islami (National Islamic Movement), Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan, a.k.a Division 53 is an active group formed c. 1992.
The original Jombesh, officially called Jombesh-e Melli-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan (National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan), is one of the country’s main tanzims, ie the military-political networks that emerged during the fight against the Soviet occupation (1979-98). This one, however, was originally set up by the communist regime as a security guard (a “group for the defence of the revolution”) around the oilfields of Sherberghan in Jowzjan province and Dostum’s home area. Jombesh had, and still has, its main basis drawn from among the Turkic-speaking population of northern Afghanistan. These are mainly the larger Uzbek ethnic groups and fewer Turkmens.
The National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan Junbish-i-Milli Islami Afghanistan is an Uzbek political party in Afghanistan. Its leader is General Abdul Rashid Dostum.
It has been described as "an organisation heavily peopled with former Communists and Islamists, and is regarded as somewhat secular and left-leaning. Its voter base is mostly Uzbeks, and it is strongest in Jowzjan, Balkh, Faryab, Sar-e Pol, and Samangan provinces.
In July 2016 Human Rights Watch accused the militia of killing, abusing and looting civilians in Faryab Province during June.
Junbish and its military wing, Division 53 started as a “self-defense unit” for the Shibergan oil fields in northern Afghanistan,[growing to a platoon and then a company until it grew to a division of about 40,000 men by 1989. This division joined the Afghan government and was referred to as Division 53. In 1988 Junbushi forces replaced departing Soviet Union forces and took control of Kandahar as well as deploying to Khost, Logar, Ghazni, Gardez in Paktika and around Kabul.
Many defecting mujaheddin commanders joined these units such as Rasul Pahlawan, Ghaffar Pahlawan who were both Uzbeks from Saripul. General Majid Rozi, an Afghan Arab Uzbek from Balkh and General Jura Beg and officer from Jowzjan also joined. Most of the joining members were either defectors or from the Parcham wing of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA).
In 1992, as the Soviet Union withdrew aid from the government of Dr Najibullah, Dostum entered into negotiations with Ahmad Shah Massoud. When, on March 19, Najibbullah attempted to replace General Mumin, a Khalqi Pashtun who commanded the Hairatan garrison, Mumin revolved with Dostum’s support. Dostum, through this, took over control of Mazar-e Sharif.This resulted in widespread looting. At this point Junbish was the dominant party in Baghlan, Samangan, Balkh, Jauzjan, Sar-I Pul and Faryab.
When the government of Najibullah collapsed in April 1992, Junbushi forces entered the city through the road near the airport and within a month held Tapa Maranjan, Bala Hisar, Kabul Airport, Old Microroian and Chaman Hozori, putting artillery in the first two of those positions. Furthermore, by controlling the airport they prevented the escape of Najibullah and forced him to take refuge in the United Nations compounds. Furthermore, through defectors from the previous government and his control of the airport, Dostum was able to control jet fighters for a significant portion of the battle of Kabul.
In May 1992 the command structure had General Majid Rozi as the overall military commander, General Hamayoon Fauzi in charge of political affairs, General Jura Beg in charge of troop deployments and rotations and General Aminullah Karim in charge of logistics. Rozi was recalled to Mazar towards the end of 1992 leaving Fauzi in charge. Other major leaders included Abdul Chiri who controlled a militia regiment, the 54th regiment. Control was mostly maintained from the Naqlia base which was on the road from Kart-I Nau and Shah Shahid.
In July 1992, Dostum sent a petition to Ahmad Shah Massoud in order to establish a general headquarters to manage and control forces in the area. Despite Massoud rejecting this Dostum created tensions as a result.
After increased tensions with Jamiat, Junbishi attempted to ally themselves with Hezb-e Islam in January 1994. However, this betrayal resulted in Junbushi being forced from most of their strongholds in Kabul. Between January and June 1994 some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place, with up to 25,000 people being killed.
The loss in Kabul was countered by the removal of Jamiat forces in Northern Afghanistan. After heavy fighting in Mazar, Jamiat was pushed out although large amounts of reports regarding rape and extrajudicial execution exist regarding this battle. After the capture of Mazar, Dostum concentrated his efforts on strengthening his position in the north.
In 1996 Rasul Pahlawan was assassinated in June by his bodyguard, allegedly at Dostum’s orders. In 1997, a group of Junbushi milia associated with Rasul’s brother defected under the leadership of General Abdul Malik Pahlawan. Malik joined the Taliban and forced Dostum out of the country for 4 months, where he fled to Turkey. However Malik quickly betrayed the Taliban, massacring thousands of Taliban prisoners before being outsted in Taliban bombardment in September 1997. During this time large amounts of rape and looting were reported, although it is not clear as to what extent this was done by Junbushi.
Following this Dostum returned to Afghanistan and ousted Malik during a conflict in Faryab. Most of Malik’s forces then defected and rejoined Junbish under Dostum. Forces of Dostum were said to have looted many Pashtoons in Faryab province following this. Dostum was even further weakened however as the road from Herat to Maimana was taken by the Taliban in July 1998, and then Mazar-e Sharif in August.
Dostum and Junbushi were particularly instrumental in the fall of the Taliban in 2001 under the Northern Alliance.
Junbushi was particularly involved in human rights abuses, particularly in Northern Afghanistan from 1991–2002 and the area around Kabul during the battle of Kabul. Their predisposition to looting areas under control earned them the nickname Gilam Jam which means the "carpet is gathered up. Areas under Junbushi control, such as Naqlia base, were frequently cited as suffering serious human rights abuses, including rape, murder and looting. Areas such as Shah Shahid and Kārte Naw faced similar problems.