Monday, June 27, 2011

US funding of Arab dictatorships

"Officially, the U.S. does not pay other governments for rights to military bases. The logic is straightforward: funneling money to the treasuries of foreign dictators cannot form the foundation of genuine strategic alliances. Yet, to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while staring down the mullahs in Iran, over the last decade the Pentagon has come to rely in an unprecedented way on a web of bases across the Middle East. And a NEWSWEEK investigation of Pentagon contracting practices in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and Bahrain has uncovered more than $14 billion paid mostly in sole-source contracts to companies controlled by ruling families across the Persian Gulf. The revelation raises a fundamental question: are U.S. taxpayer dollars enriching the ruling potentates of friendly regimes just as the youthful protesters and the Arab Spring have brought a new push for democracy across the region?
Take a look at Abu Dhabi. The wealthiest of the United Arab Emirates, it hosts a U.S. Air Force base at Al Dhafra, which is a vital refueling hub in the region. As is the case in most Gulf states, Abu Dhabi is ruled by a single family that dominates both government and business. Here it is the Nahyan family, and the emir is 63-year-old Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is known for his interest in camel racing, is worth $15 billion, and controls the country’s national oil company, ADNOC. As it turns out, every drop of fuel America buys for its planes at Al Dhafra—more than 200 million gallons a year, costing $5.2 billion since 2005—is purchased from the Al Nahyan–-controlled ADNOC." (thanks anonymous)