Is there a Path to Democracy in the Arab World?


The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (above) is an exemplar of Palestinian civil society, notes Council on Foreign Relations analyst Elliott Abrams. The group, which monitors corruption in Gaza and the West Bank, recently released its annual report and Abrams summarizes its conclusions:

The rule of law is weak both because the parliament never meets to pass laws and due to executive interference. . . . Government jobs, which are prized due to the weak private economy, are awarded on the basis of cronyism rather than merit. . . . While there is a high import duty on automobiles, it is often escaped by big shots. . . . The security services continue to be bloated at the top, as under Yasir Arafat. . . .

Moneys are spent on non-existent entities, and here’s the best example: “salaries and raises were paid to employees of an airline company that no longer exists on the ground.” That is Palestine Airlines, about which the report says this: “The Palestinian treasury paid salaries to hundreds of employees in the ‘Palestinian Airlines,’ which is a governmental company that has a board of directors, headed by the minister of transportation. . . . The budget for this ‘company’ is included in the budget of the Ministry of Transport and Transportation with no details.” A non-existent airline—whose employees were not only paid salaries but given raises.

“The report also covers Gaza, where there is plenty of Hamas corruption,” adds Abrams, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group. “The report is a tribute to the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity, he says. “Its very existence is a reminder that Palestinian civil society remains strong and continues to struggle with the political parties, movements, and leaders that dominate political life—and have so often been a curse to Palestinians.”

Is there a Path to Democracy in the Arab World? is the subject of a Bernstein Forum with Dr. Salam Fayyad (right), former Prime Minister, Palestinian National Authority. Moderated by Vali Nasr, Dean, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 12:00 – 1:30 PM. Kenney Auditorium, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C. RSVP HERE



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