Leaked documents suggest that Qatar paid hundreds of millions of dollars to key Afghan government officials – including a former president – to not resist the Taliban.
The documents reportedly show that Qatar paid $110m to ex-president Ashraf Ghani to stop the Afghan military fighting the Taliban a month before the 2021 collapse of the US-backed government. The Khaama Press alleges that payments of $51m and $61m were made to Marshal Dostum and Atta Mohammad Noor respectively – both powerful figures in Afghan politics. Dostum was a senior military officer. and major player in successive Afghan governments. Noor was similarly highly ranked, as former governor of Balkh province.
The documents were first reported by Italian media outlet Tg1 following an investigation by journalist Filippo Rossi:
The story was subsequently reported in English by the Afghan-based Khaama Press News Agency.
The investigation found three documents which appear to show corruption at the highest levels. One claims that Ajmal Ahmadi, former head of an Afghan bank and a close advisor to Ghani, received $110m from Qatar on Ghani’s behalf.
Ghani was previously accused of fleeing Afghanistan with millions of dollars during the 2021 collapse:
He denied reports that he escaped the Islamist militants with over $150 million in cash belonging to the Afghan people, calling the claims “completely and categorically false.”
One document reportedly shows Dostum received $51m from Qatar. Khaama reported :
The document praised Dostum’s sincere cooperation in retreating from the northern provinces’ battlefields, such as Fariyab and Jawzjan provinces.
On top of this, one Mohammad Farhad Azimi – a representative of Atta Mohammad Noor – received $61m from a Qatari representative in Kabul. Noor is former anti-Taliban commander. Both Noor and Dostum reportedly fled to Uzbekistan as Afghanistan collapsed in August 2021.
Meetings and conspiracies
This conspiracy, then, would have taken place at the very highest levels of leadership. Khaama reported that :
The documents also revealed that all three representatives of the former Afghan leaders received money from the Qatar representative after signing the documents on July 7, 2021.
The documents also detailed a meeting between a Qatari official and Ghani in July 2021, around a month before the occupation and the US-backed government collapsed.
The Khaama report claims the documents indicate a conspiracy among powerful Afghan figures to sell out for Qatari cash:
The letters also further highlight that the money was granted to all three prominent leaders to avoid resisting the Taliban fighters.
The documents allegedly show that Ashraf Ghani received money to avoid resistance. In contrast, Dostum and Noor received money from the Qatar government not to fight against the Taliban in Northern Afghanistan.
The speed of the 2021 collapse of the Afghan government – and with it the 20-year US occupation – shocked many. Since then, the people in Afghanistan have continued to suffer great hardships, much as they did under foreign occupation.
It remains to be seen how concrete these claims are. Clearly, more information is needed. However, the possibility that Afghanistan’s own leaders sold out the country to the Taliban adds another layer of bitterness to what is already one of the great human tragedies of our times.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Voice of America News, cropped to 770 x 403.