Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, admitted October 25, 2010 that his office received six-figure sums in “bags of money” from Iran to help with “expenses”.
Karzai issued a statement admitting the payments, which he alleges were ‘legitimate aid donations’. “This is transparent, this is something that I have discussed even with past President George W Bush, nothing is hidden, the United States is doing the same thing. . . it does give bags of money, yes, it’s all the same.”
Iran made two payments per year each of 976,500 [Euros or dollars], while the United States also made similar payments, Karzai stated. Afghan officials quoted by The New York Times claimed the payments went into a “presidential slush fund” which is used to pay off members of parliament, tribal elders and Taliban commanders. [Something like an Afghan presidential extortion or investment fund or pocket money]
At a press conference Karzai stated: “Cash payments are done by various friendly countries to help the presidential office to help expenses in various ways to help the employees around here, and people outside. “The government of Iran assists my office with five or six or seven hundred thousand Euros once or twice a year which is official aid.
Karzai’s admission came a day after an aide to his chief of staff, Omar Daudzai dismissed as “rubbish” claims that he had received cash deliveries from Iran as part of an effort to gain influence in the presidential palace. The Iranian embassy also dismissed the claims before Mr Karzai spoke. Mr Daudzai is regarded as pro-Tehran following a stint in Iran as ambassador. He returned to take control of Hamid Karzai’s presidential re-election campaign.
Karzai stated that several nations have given money to his office starting with the United Arab Emirates, which provided $1.5 million nine years ago when Afghanistan’s interim government was formed. “After that, a number of other countries helped us in the same way.” Karzai did not offer details about how the money was spent, saying only that it was used to “help the presidential office” and to “dispense assistance” to certain individuals.
Last year, as relations with the West became strained over corruption in the Afghan government, Karzai’s advisers said they urged the president to court neighboring Iran and strengthen relations between the two countries. The advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private discussions with Karzai, stated the Afghan leader was told that having Iran as an ally would bolster Kabul’s strategic importance to the West and possibly even serve as a bridge to better relations between Western capitals and the Iranian regime.
According to analysts, the payments may be motivated by Iranian fears of American-domination of Iraq and Afghanistan, which both have borders with Iran.