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Karzai's acknowledgement of bags of Iranian cash: Why now?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s admission that his office has taken 'bags of money' from Iran are part of an effort to undermine Tehran’s role in negotiations with the Taliban, argues a regional analyst.

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai listened Monday during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai told reporters that once or twice a year Iran gives his office $700,000 to $975,000 for official presidential expenses. He said the US has known about the Iranian assistance for years and that Washington also gives the palace 'bags of money.'

Allauddin Khan/AP

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The revelations that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office has taken “bags of money” from Iran are part of an effort to undermine Tehran’s role in negotiations with the Taliban, argues a regional analyst.

Mr. Karzai confirmed Monday an earlier report that his chief of staff received a bag of cash from the Iranians.

The reaction from most experts was a collective yawn: It’s only natural that a neighboring country would be trying to influence Afghan affairs. But the revelation did pique some analyst interest in why the unnamed officials leaked this information now.

Read this story: Why Karzai readily admits receiving bags of Iranian cash

The leak came just days after the United States reiterated it was open to Iran playing a role in the tentative discussions with the Taliban, notes Kamran Bokhari, an analyst with the Texas-based intelligence group Stratfor.

“The purpose of such leaks is to at least undermine the existing dynamic … [that includes] involving Iran in this process,” said Mr. Bokhari in a video posted on Stratfor’s website.

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