When you put unaccountable leaders in place and throw money at them, almost without fail they steal it. While not endemic to only the Arab world, it does seem to happen there with unsurprising regularity.
Rumor has it that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak squirreled away close to a $70 billion. Yasser Arafat, who “managed” a billion dollars a year in international aid to the Palestinian Authority, had a personal fortune of anywhere between $300 million and $1.3 billion.
Well, there’s a new sheriff in town--sort of. Mahmoud Abbas, who was voted in as president of the PA in 2004 (and hasn’t stepped down even though his term officially ended in 2009), seems to have taken over where his predecessor left off.
While he doesn’t seem to have reached Arafat's level, a new congressional report say he may be on his way. In the testimony, it came out that Abbas has transferred $13 million of American aid money to a secret bank account. The report also states that Abbas uses his political connections to profit himself and his family while the Peace Process goes nowhere. This is in addition to $160 Million that Abbas may have received for selling PLO property in Lebanon.
One of the main issues is the lack of oversight. America gives more than $500 Million a year to the PA with almost no real oversight. The PA was pledged $7.7 Billion in aid between 2008 and 2010. Bush-era National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams claims that many Arab leaders wouldn’t fulfill those pledges because of corruption rooted in Palestinian institutions.
Gulf governments refused to transfer money to PA, stating, “Why should we give them money when their officials will just steal it?”
The bottom line is, when you have an unaccountable dictatorship--even one that was voted into power--you end up with corruption. Unfortunately, the American taxpayer is footing the bill for it.