Massoud money brings Norwegian aid under scrutiny / News / The Foreigner

Massoud money brings Norwegian aid under scrutiny. Questions are being raised about Norway’s foreign aid practices, after leaked documents show Afghanistan’s Ahmad Zia Massoud was stopped with 321 million kroner in cash in the United Arab Emirates. Local authorities, in cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Agency, stopped former Vice President Massoud during his trip to the UAE last year and discovered the money in his luggage, according to Wikileaks documents passed to The New York Times. Mr Massoud held his post in President Hamid Karzai’s government until 19 November 2009.

ahmad, zia, massoud, afghanistan, corruption, hamid, karzai, hans, olav, syversen, ivar, kristiansen, asletoje, helge, luraas, nupi



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Massoud money brings Norwegian aid under scrutiny

Published on Wednesday, 1st December, 2010 at 11:33 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Questions are being raised about Norway’s foreign aid practices, after leaked documents show Afghanistan’s Ahmad Zia Massoud was stopped with 321 million kroner in cash in the United Arab Emirates.

Massoud shakes hands with Lt.Col.R.Kaskel (illus. ph.)
Massoud shakes hands with Lt.Col.R.Kaskel (illus. ph.)
Photo: USAF


Pocket money?

Local authorities, in cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Agency, stopped former Vice President Massoud during his trip to the UAE last year and discovered the money in his luggage, according to Wikileaks documents passed to The New York Times.

Mr Massoud held his post in President Hamid Karzai’s government until 19 November 2009.

The leaked documents show the US embassy in Kabul subsequently passed the incident off, calling the sum “a significant amount”.

“[The Vice President] was ultimately allowed to keep without revealing the money’s origin or destination,” the embassy writes.

According to the New York Times, Mr Massoud denies he ever took any money out of Afghanistan.

321 million kroner (approximately 52 million dollars) equals almost half of Norway’s foreign aid contributions to Afghanistan for 2009.

Damaging

Norwegian Opposition politicians argue what has happened sheds a bad light on Norway’s aid policies, and urge the government to act.

“We expect that the Norwegian government will investigate this matter. The credibility that Norwegian foreign aid is dependent upon makes it crucial that the public can be confident that aid is going to development and not to pockets in which it does not belong,” Hans Olav Syversen MP, the Christian Democratic Party’s (KrF) representative on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs tells The Foreigner.

“This is just a new and bad example of what happens when talking about civil aid in general. I’m afraid it has some disturbing consequences for civil aid to Afghanistan. People should be aware about corruption when they meet the systems there,” says Conservative Party (H) spokesperson on defence and member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Ivar Kristiansen MP.

Others believe it is too late to save Norway’s reputation regarding foreign aid.

“Sadly the story seems to validate the accusations made by many that aid to Afghanistan is being misspent. For Norway, the aid has become so large because the ruling coalition decided to give as much in aid as they spent on the military operation for political reasons. The sums soon grew great, and there was simply no way we were going to give it in a responsible manner. Whether this will bring about change is less certain. Norway has a very long history for throwing good money after bad when it comes to aid,” says researcher and commentator on Norway’s foreign policy Asle Toje.

Consequences

Helge Lurås, advisor at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), thinks corruption in Afghanistan is almost impossible to avoid, however.

He argues the Norwegian way of spending its money has its merits, and believes Wikileaks’ document release will have few implications for Norwegian foreign aid and its policies.

“It will probably have no effect at all. Corruption is a well-known fact in Afghanistan and the Norwegian support is premised on a wide range of political consideration connected to national interests. The money carried by Mr. Massoud probably cannot be directly connected to Norwegian funds. The high level of Norwegian spending is likely to continue due to the perceived obligation to the U.S. and the ingrained Norwegian rhetoric about the benefits of aid and how that is balance to the more controversial military engagement,” he says.

Meanwhile, Ivar Kristiansen MP is still left wondering.

“My question is does, or did anyone in Norway know about Wikileaks’ information?”



Published on Wednesday, 1st December, 2010 at 11:33 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: ahmad, zia, massoud, afghanistan, corruption, hamid, karzai, hans, olav, syversen, ivar, kristiansen, asletoje, helge, luraas, nupi.





  
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