Afghan President Hamid Karzai admitted his chief of staff, Umar Daudzai, received bundles of cash from Iran and insisted the United States knew about the payments, following a New York Times report that Iranian officials had been handing over bags of cash. The officials alleged that the money had been used to pay Afghan politicians, tribal elders, and even Taliban commanders to secure their loyalty (Telegraph). Karzai said that once or twice a year Iran gives his office up to $975,000 (BBC) and that the payments were transparent and normal. The payments raise concerns about ongoing efforts by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to coax countries in the region to collaborate on securing Afghanistan, rather than looking to the West. Iran's embassy in Kabul condemned claims (FarsNews) that Daudzai was being bribed. "Such baseless rumors by certain Western media are raised to create anxiety in the public opinion and impair the expanding relations between the two friendly and neighboring countries," the embassy said in a statement.
In the Guardian, Simon Tisdall says the possibility of conflict with Iran is drawing closer, as the United States continues its drive to isolate Tehran, and Iran's leadership shows little sign of changing its ways.
On the Daily Beast, CFR's Leslie Gelb says Western leaders will ignore critics and push forward with unspoken plans to stay in Afghanistan for at least another four years.
A Japan Times editorial says without popular support of Afghan citizens for their government, "no amount of external aid and assistance will help the government in Kabul prevail over determined opponents."