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UPI, December 28, 2006

Iran spend money to broaden its influence in Afghanistan

Tehran is funding conservative Shiite religious schools in the country

Iran has poured more than $200 million in aid into Afghanistan as part of a bid to broaden its political and religious influence, The New York Times reported.

"Iran is providing a lot of assistance for religious and cultural activities in Afghanistan," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secret nature of his work. "That is the easy way to build influence."
International Herald Tribune, Dec. 27, 2005

As far back as the 1980s when Afghans were fighting Soviet occupation, Iran, the world's largest Shiite Muslim country, funded the majority Sunni Afghan fighters, and later funded the fight against the hard-line Sunni Taliban government.

Iran is now building highways, stringing power lines and fiber optic cable, building schools and medical centers in Afghanistan but also broadcasting anti-U.S. propaganda into Afghanistan. Moderate Shiite leaders in Afghanistan say Tehran is funding conservative Shiite religious schools in the country, which is about 80 percent Sunni.

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