Afghanistan, never a bastion for the honest or politically uncorrupted, is taking hefty bribes from a new source: Iran. As the New York Times reports, Tehran secretly and continuously slides a key aide to Hamid Karzai literal bags of cash that amount to a multi-million-dollar "presidential slush fund" aimed at keeping Iran's interests close to his heart—and not incidentally, creating a rift between Karzai and the US.
Iran's influence within Afghanistan is growing, notes the Times. A NATO official says that Tehran is also working to gain influence and unravel the Americans by financing everyone from the Taliban to parliamentary candidates, but the Iranian infiltration goes deeper: “I am very concerned that they have a lethal capability and presence inside Afghanistan and Kabul,” he says. Still, “We have no choice but to be friendly with Iran,” says one Afghan official. “It’s a hostile neighborhood.” (Read more Afghanistan stories.)