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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Abbas targets corruption - but only of his enemies

Ma'an reports:
A former adviser to late President Yasser Arafat is accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars, the head of the PA anti-corruption commission said Wednesday.

Rafiq Natsheh told Ma'an his commission sought an international arrest warrant for Muhammad Rashid after he failed to respond to earlier summons by the foreign and justice ministers.

Rashid, who was an economic adviser to Arafat, is accused of embezzling money from the Palestinian Investment Fund by setting up front companies.
Corruption in the Palestine Investment Fund? That rings a bell:
[T]he Palestine Investment Fund [is] a sovereign wealth fund that Abbas controls through a board he handpicked and whose by-laws he rewrote. Since 2006, the PIF has awarded contracts exclusively to Abbas’s cronies, including his sons, Yasser and Tareq. The PIF-backed Wataniya cellular phone company, which drew on international-donor funding, inked a lucrative advertising contract with Tareq, while his brother Yasser sat on its board.

The Abbas family is now said to be worth millions, with lavish property holdings and investments throughout the Middle East.

Moreover, the Abbas machine quietly enriches Hamas as it enriches itself. According to a former Palestinian Authority adviser, Yasser Abbas staffed the Karni Crossing cargo terminal in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip with the stated purpose of ensuring that goods and aid reached Gaza without reaching Hamas. But the customs and border unit at the crossing is not on the Palestinian Authority payroll, and it abuses its monopoly on Gaza’s only cargo terminal to pocket fees and kick them back to Hamas.
The pieces all fit together when you read Challah Hu Akbar's great reporting of the issue:
In February I reported that the Palestinian Authority was targeting Mohammad Rashid, a former advisor to Yasir Arafat. At the time Rashid was being targeted for his alleged ties to InLightPress, a website critical of the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas, which the Palestinian Authority blocked access to along with a number of other websites.

However, the targeting of Rachid has been ongoing for a number of years.

Mohammed Rashid is an Iraqi Kurd, who was Yasir Arafat’s senior economic adviser. He was formerly the head of the Palestine Investment Fund, however, he resigned in October 2004.  In March 2008, Ahmad Al-Mughani, the Attorney General of the Palestinian Authority, began an investigation into Rashid’s finances.
It isn't that the PA is rooting out corruption. They are only going after people who are already on their enemy list and using corruption as an excuse. (Not that Rashid isn't corrupt - he probably is. But so is Abbas.)