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Monday, April 17, 2006

Hamas aid watch

OK, Iran finally publicly announced that it would give $50 million to Hamas, apparently wanting to wait for their terror conference to make the announcement. But keep in mind that this cover roughly ten days to two weeks of the PA budget, so for such a bigmouthed powerhouse it is a surprisingly small number. Compare to the half a billion or so that the PA got for years from both the EU and the US.

The Arab Summit pledged $55 million monthly to Hamas, although I will bet that this will last only a month or two.

Russia pledged an unspecified amount. Clearly, their motivation is to be a power-broker in the Middle East, because the idea that Russia's economy has millions to spare is laughable. Chances are it was a relatiively small amount and meant more as a political move to show relevance to the one-time superpower.

I still think that the cash will get through to the terrorists, mostly through the UNRWA, which employs many Hamas terrorists itself, as well as the "charities" and NGOs that are sure to sprout up as the money flow moves in that direction. But ultimately the PA budget is so bloated that there is no way that the world will make up the shortfall without Hamas firing half of the PA employees and risking a civil war.

UPDATE: Qatar added $50 million, but the article says that the other Arab pledges never materialized.

UPDATE 2: Qatar's $50 million is just part of the earlier pledge by the Arab summit, but Iran doubled its pledge to $100 million (the same number I predicted, by the way.)

Again, to keep it in context, the PA budget is somewhere between $1.5B and $2 billion a year. These pledges are Band-Aids. If the Arab world would truly commit to the entire shortfall from the loss of EU and American money, it appears that it will affect the Arab world's entire economy.

It is also notable that the two most important Arab countries, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, did not attend the Arab summit where the money was pledged, meaning they have not yet pledged anything.

UPDATE 3: Japan cut off its aid to Hamas, some $40 million a year.