Thursday, July 06, 2006

The end game?

Yesterday the government sent a report on corruption in the Islamic Center Charitable Society to the district attorney. Al Anbat has an article with some details. The 1700 page report contains charges of financial impropriety. These include charges that equipment purchased for the Islamic Hospital kidney and eye units were improper and over priced, as well as improper issuance of loans and hiring of consultants, among other accusations.

The ICCS is an important financial and social arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, with assets reported at 3 billion dinars and over 5000 employees. The society owns hospitals, clinics, schools and community colleges, among others. There have been indications that this issue was coming up, with Ibrahim Gharaibeh recently publishing an article praising the appointment of Sa’adedin Zumaili as head of the executive board of the society. Gharaibeh emphasized the history of Zumaili as a well known philanthropist and praised his cooperation with the government investigation into the alleged improprieties in the society. Later, Zumaili told Al Arab Al Yawm that the society has nothing to hide. He also emphasized that there were no financial links between the society and the MB. Other sources in the society told the newspaper that the investigation has been going on for four months.

Remedies for this situation include the disbanding the executive board of the society and the appointment of a committee of government bureaucrats to run the society. This would be a harsh blow to the Islamist movement, depriving it of a considerable power base. Khadder Kenaan points out that the services provided by the society are of most use to the urban middle class. This is partially true, as poor areas also benefit from free services provided by the society. There is some information on their web site.

Most discussions of the issue see it as an attempt by the government to curtail Islamist influence in the country. Al Anbat says this directly. The investigation began before the Hamas terror cell issue and before the four deputies issue. Did the government know before hand that these issues would come up and that the Islamists would respond to them the way that they did? This foresight would be quite impressive.

I am looking forward to the MB/IAF reaction to this. Since Zumaili insists that the society has no links to the MB, it seems that the Islamists would have little ground to complain. Of course, direct financial links may or may not exist. This is really not the point. The Islamists use the money to leverage political power through the work of the society. Everybody knows this. The question is whether this situation is fair. No other political movement has 3 billion dinars that can be used to influence voters. This linkage seems to fly in the face of balanced political development.

On the other hand, the government didn’t force the executive committee of the society to commit financial or administrative improprieties. Maybe the government is indeed using the issue, but the mere existence of the issue lies with the administration of the society, not the government.

The Islamist movement should be more careful than anybody else about living in a glass house.


At 1:15 AM, Blogger Rami said...

funny how a government comprised mainly of embezzlers can award itself the moral (and legalistic) right to account anybody else. sure you can go on about the government being a clean hand...etc or you can find a machivellean excuse to justify a theif being appointed as a judge/persecutor.

in all cases, the "impressive hindsight" you are talking about only applies to the 4 deputies issue because the "hamas terror cell" too was a security/intelligence comedy that - dont forget - no one believed or believes (you can see how the story was killed suddenly/prematurely and is now being erased of the public memory because it was a government debacle par excellance).

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Rami: You can argue about the a lack a moral right of the government to account for anybody else, but they certainly are the legal address for this. They did not "award" themselves this right, and I said said in the post, the MB/IAF/ICC should not live in a glass house if they want to take the more high ground about "clean hands". In any case, they are the prosecuter, and not the judge. The courts will decide the merits of the government's case.

As for the Hamas terror cells, that will be decided by the courts as well. The government may have fabricated the case, as the Islamsist charge, but they didn't tell them to take the anti-Jordan posture that they did.

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On ly facts will prove if the allegation of corruption are true or not but I really the way our government selectively choses to investigate corruption. They have just refused to investigate the Umniah license issue which in my own humble opinion is the most dangerous corruption process that is on the market now.


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