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Afghanistan's vice president is very angry the New York Times reported that he cried once

Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum in 2014
Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum in 2014
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty

Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, a hard-bitten veteran and former warlord, is not happy the New York Times reported on the time he cried at a government meeting.

Dostum has posted an open letter on his public Facebook page angrily rebuking the Times' profile of him, which ran on Monday. The story, which was critical of Dostum, noted both that he is accused of war crimes such as "mass killing hundreds of Taliban prisoners" and that he cried at a recent Afghan security council meeting because other officials weren't returning his calls. See if you can guess which of those two tidbits offended the 60-something-year-old vice president.

Dostum's open letter on Facebook accuses the paper of "character assassination and unfounded, baseless and false accusations." (It is, of course, written entirely in the third person.) He objects specifically only to the report that he cried once:

You reported in your article that General Dostum has been on the edge of crying at one security meeting, which again is a baseless and unfounded claim. We strongly dismiss such fabrications. General Dostum enjoys his constitutional rights as the First Vice President and strongly believes in teamwork with President Ashraf Ghani as President and commander in chief. It is unnecessary to prove such claims that the General was on the edge of crying which doesn't even stick to his personality and nature.

To be clear, at no point does Dostum object to the Times reporting that he is widely suspected of war crimes and human-rights atrocities. His letter concludes by demanding that the Times reporter, Azam Ahmed, "give us a full explanation on those claims."

The letter, in explaining why it is bad to report that Dostum cried, sure makes him sound like a despot in the making: "These kinds of reports are too small to damage General Dostum's well-known character, but it could help in shaping a negative perception on people's mind about General Dostum."

Here, by the way, is the anecdote from the Times story (which is excellent) that so upset Dostum; it's pretty delightful.

KABUL, Afghanistan — The security meeting was almost at a close when the first vice president of Afghanistan, the former warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, began crying.

It was a jarring ending to the typically somber weekly gathering of the National Security Council. But Mr. Dostum, who has been accused in the mass killing of hundreds of Taliban prisoners, was distraught. He was tired of being ignored by the roomful of powerful people, he said, including President Ashraf Ghani and his national security adviser, Hanif Atmar.

"No one returns my calls!" he blurted out to the gathering several weeks ago, according to two people there. "I just want to help this country. The people made me a general, but no one even asks for my advice."

You should read Azam Ahmed's whole story.

I've also copied Dostum's full open letter below, just in case he deletes it:

Letter of protest to NY Times paper.

Expectation from this paper is that it publishes accurate reports while retaining neutrality. However, expectations failed to meet reality on the ground and NY Times published a report, which was 100% untrue rather it was completely fabricated and based on false information.

In this report, First Vice President Dostum has been targeted of character assassination and unfounded, baseless and false accusations were labeled against him, which is in no way acceptable to us. However, NY Times bureau in Kabul did not reach (as it claims) General Dostum's office for any comment regarding this particular story, which proves the facts that it was aimed to be reported biased and unbalanced. You reported in your article that General Dostum has been on the edge of crying at one security meeting, which again is a baseless and unfounded claim. We strongly dismiss such fabrications. General Dostum enjoys his constitutional rights as the First Vice President and strongly believes in teamwork with President Ashraf Ghani as President and commander in chief. It is unnecessary to prove such claims that the General was on the edge of crying which doesn't even stick to his personality and nature.

General Dostum is a national figure who enjoys enormous support among all Afghans and his passion to bring stability and peace in the country is well regarded among all sphere of the society. He spends much of his time serving his nation particularly women empowerment, democracy, freedom of speech, national unity, implementation of rule of law and youth in Afghanistan.

It was good if NY Times would have focused more on the spirit of sportsmanship in the country rather than mocking General Dostum's dedication towards encouraging sports among the youth in the country. These kinds of reports are too small to damage General Dostum's well-known character, but it could help in shaping a negative perception on people's mind about General Dostum. Therefore, we want the NY Times reporter to give us a full explanation on those claims.