International

Karzai Admits Getting Cash From Iran

Hamid Karzai

hide captionAfghan President Hamid Karzai listens during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Oct. 25, 2010.

Allauddin Khan/AP

Over the weekend the New York Times had a piece that reported on bags of cash that Iran gave to one of his Chief of Staff Umar Daudzai. The Times piece has unnamed Afghan officials claiming the money is being used to purchase influence in Kabul.

It is not clear whether Mr. Daudzai takes any of the money himself or whether he is the only conduit. But Afghan and Western officials say Mr. Daudzai owns at least six homes in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and in Vancouver, British Columbia, acquired during his time as Mr. Karzai’s top aide.

One Afghan official said Mr. Daudzai used his power over Mr. Karzai’s schedule to ensure that Afghans who saw him registered complaints about the American presence in the country and the deaths of Afghan civilians in the war. “This is the strategy,” the Afghan official said.

Today, Afghan President Hamid Karzai admitted that Iran sent large amounts of cash regularly. He apparently doesn't see it as a big deal. From the BBC:

"The government of Iran has been assisting us with five or six or seven hundred thousand euros once or twice every year, that is an official aid," he told reporters, according to the AFP agency.

He said his chief of staff, Umar Daudzai, "is receiving the money on my instructions".

"The cash payments are done by various friendly countries to help the presidential office and to help dispense assistance... in various ways to the employees around here, to people outside, and this is transparent," he said.

He added that American officials have known all along about the money. He also said America gave him "bags of money" as well.

In one of the better examples of not being on the same page, we have this from the Iranian Embassy in Kabul.

On Monday, the Iranian embassy in Kabul strongly denied the report, describing the claims as "ridiculous and insulting".

"Such baseless speculations are being spread by some Western media outlets in order to confuse public opinion and damage the strong ties between the governments and nations of the Islamic republics of Afghanistan and Iran," a statement said.

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