U.S. lets $4 billion flow to Middle East, no questions askedOctober 17, 2011
Lost in the discussion of how much taxpayer and bondholder funded U.S. foreign aid should be given to Libya‘s thuggish rebels, Egypt‘s Muslim Brotherhood buddies, Osama bin Laden’s hosts in Pakistan, Gaza‘s Jew-hating rabble-rousers, etc., and what types of strings should be tied to that aid, is a discussion of how much wealth produced in America is transferred by Muslim immigrants back to the Middle East with little to no scrutiny of to whom or why that money is being transferred.
World Bank data for 2010 showed that $3.8 billion is remitted from the U.S. to the Middle East each year. Marketplace maps the top recipient countries:
Lebanon and Jordan wins first and second place in the money grab.
But readers may be somewhat surprised to see that the bronze medal goes to Iran, which receives over $300 million a year in remittances annually from people living in the the United States. Such transfers to Iran present yet another loophole in the Iran sanctions regime. Remitters don’t even have to explain the purpose of their transactions, much less endure the “burden” of applying for a waiver, exemption, or special license from sanctions regulator OFAC.
Some of the aid may go to ordinary Iranian families, many of whom are opposed to their government. However, being subsidized by aid also decreases the likelihood that those families will pressure the Iranian regime to reform.
World Bank data includes only formal transfers, but it is likely that another $6 billion in transferred to the Middle East through the informal and undocumented hawala money transfer system. Imposing a simple 1 percent tax on such overseas remittances would be a mild, positive step in beginning to track the transactions to countries that intend us harm.