1 May 2013, 05:59

Karzai another US puppet? Admission to taking CIA black money opens can of worms

Президент Афганистан Хамид Карзай скорбь Хамид Карзай печаль
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
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The Afghan President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged his office has been receiving money from the American Central Intelligence Agency over the past ten years. He made this statement during the Afghan leader’s visit to Finland and it was a response to a report in New York Times' Sunday edition.

The story claimed that the CIA has been secretly transferring tens of millions of dollars to Hamid Karzai to maintain influence over him and his administration. However, Karzai dismissed the amount of money he’s been receiving as "small." This small amount, added the Afghan leader, "has been used for various purposes." The CIA however declined to comment on the matter.

The Guardian also reported that MI-6 money was also involved. However, the British aid was on a smaller scale and much of it was reportedly focused on peace initiatives.

To discuss the subject I'm now joined on the phone by Jason Ditz, writer and editor of the Internet portal Аntiwar.com

Welcome Jason!

Hi! Thank you for having me.

Let’s talk about Hamid Karzai for a moment. Can you tell us how much money has Karzai been getting?

We don’t really know the full scale of it. The report in New York Times says tens of millions of dollars just from the CIA. We know, of course, that MI-6, as you’ve mentioned, was giving him money. Iran was also giving him money, that was a story that broke a few years ago. And now we can only imagine who else has been showing up at his office at regular intervals with backpacks and grocery bags full of cash and just leaving it there. It seems like there is no end to it.

Let’s talk about that for a moment. So, the CIA shows up, they give him cash. And where does the money go?

Again, we don’t really know because there is not any oversight over what happens to this money once it is dropped off in his office. In Karzai’s comments, he said that they considered it as multipurpose aid that may be used on different things like paying the rent. But there also are indications that the money has been going to pay off warlords, to pay off rival politicians to get things going.

Corruption is a large factor in the administration that is there and what part of democracy is that? It seems that there are two different ideas altogether?

Well, they definitely are. This seems to be just the CIA going off on its own in doing this.

How does this affect Karzai politically?

Well, I think it will have probably fairly minimal affect on him, since he is in his last term anyway, so he doesn’t have to run for re-election. I think it is also incredible that he would publicly admit receiving these bribes, insisting that they are not that big, while tens of millions of dollars certainly sound like a pretty significant bribe to me. I think that should be shocking for everybody and particularly for the Afghans.

Where is Afghanistan past 2014? They should have elections coming up soon. And are there any players that are emerging? Is there some sort of stability in the political scene?

Well, we don’t really know yet. There’s been talk of Abdullah Abdullah, who ran against Karzai in the last election, running again. He seems to be the frontrunner, if he does decide to run again. The opposition is also trying to have talks with the Taliban to come to some sort of agreement before the election on a power-sharing deal that would allow them to run on the platform that they are going to end the ongoing war. But until there is something done about the corruption, Afghanistan seems like it is still going to be just a disaster no matter who is in charge.

What does this story tell us about the American foreign policy?

Well, I think that some of the players in American foreign policy are extremely cynical about their ability to buy influence. And another thing, that is absent in all of this, is that the CIA is fairly overtly bribing people to try to buy influence but it doesn’t seem to work very well because Karzai doesn’t seem to be a very good CIA puppet, if indeed he is one. And at the same time, it seems like there is a very little communication among the different US departments and offices in their policies. It seems like one agency is trying to convince the Afghans to give up the bribery culture and the other, like the CIA, is simply reinforcing it with huge wads of money.

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