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Mohammed Mustafa is apparently an incredibly talented fellow because he earns over 400,000 dollars a year from his position at PIF. Mustafa is also Chairman of the Board at Wataniya Mobile, the Amaar Real Estate Group, which is actually a subsidiary that oversees PIF’s real estate holdings, and the Palestine Commercial Services Company. The PCSC, the economic arm of the PA, formerly run by Mohammed Rashid, is part of the ring of monopolies on basic services that fuels the Authority’s cash machine.
Hamas, supposedly elected as a response to Palestinian Authority corruption, is no different than its Fatah counterparts. A Palestinian Authority Minister accused it of stealing 800 million dollars and creating an electricity crisis by charging Gazan Arabs for electricity, but not paying the suppliers, while pocketing the money. Such crises manufactured by malfeasance and corruption are blamed on Israel, with extensive media coverage of Muslims in Gaza sitting in the dark. This leads to more humanitarian assistance, which leads to more corruption, and the cycle goes on.
The nation building aid is the source of much of the corruption. American and European efforts to build up local companies end up financing the empires of well-connected Palestinian Authority officials and their kin. Companies like Falcon Holding Group and Sky Advertising, run by Abbas’ sons, pick up USAID contracts and turn a profit. Yasser Mahmoud Abbas, Abbas’ older son, who has a number of profitable businesses, is also his chosen successor.
Studying the ideological differences among Islamic terrorist groups like Fatah and Hamas often blinds us to the more prosaic realities of their operations. Fatah and Hamas are a lot like the Mafia. They seize control of a territory through violence and then dole out profitable business monopolies to major families. These businesses are either completely controlled by family members and organization members, or pay kickbacks to them in exchange for being allowed to do business.
These families form a loose confederation with their own complicated network of alliances, whose members often fight among themselves over business monopolies and control of certain territories. Rashid and Dahlan fighting with Abbas and Mustafa is no different than Fatah and Hamas fighting each other. Behind all the rhetoric, they want control of revenues from businesses and territories.
The business of the Palestinian Authority is foreign aid. America and Europe send the Palestinian Authority money so that it will make peace with Israel. The Muslim world sends it money to make war on Israel. And Arafat and Abbas have done their best to give Westerners and Muslims what they want, occasionally showing up for negotiations, while continuing to engage in terrorism.
The thieves and criminals of the Palestinian Authority cannot make peace or total war, because that would alienate one set of donors. To keep the money coming in, the dollars, euros, dirhams and riyals that fund their companies, allowing them to maintain their monopolies and pay their militias, they have to maintain a balance between war and peace, without completely foreclosing either option. The Palestinian Authority has been playing this game for almost twenty years now, and its leaders have gotten very rich doing it.
In the big picture, the only thing that the Palestine Liberation Organization ever liberated is billions of dollars of aid money into its own pockets.
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