FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wolfowitz Dating Muslim Woman

by BARBARA FERGUSON

Here’s a bit of news that had Washingtonians choking on their coffee this morning: President Bush’s neoconservative hawk Paul Wolfowitz, the Pentagon’s architect of the US invasion of Iraq, is dating a Muslim!

While battle lines have hardened over President Bush’s nomination of Wolfowitz to become president of the World Bank, what many say is really fueling the controversy is concern within the bank over Wolfowitz’s reported romantic relationship with Shaha Ali Riza, an Arab feminist who is the acting manager for External Relations and Outreach for the Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank.

Political foes of Wolfowitz portray him as a leader of Washington’s Jewish neo-conservatives driving a blindly pro-Israel policy in the Middle East. Critics have also noted that his sister, Laura, a biologist, lives in Israel and has an Israeli husband.

But Wolfowitz, a married father of three, is said to be so blinded by his relationship with Riza, that influential members of the World Bank believe she played a key role in influencing the Pentagon official to launch the 2003 Iraq war. As his trusted confident, she is said to be one of most influential Muslims in Washington.

What they are said to share is a passion to establish democracy in the Middle East.

Riza, in her mid-fifties, was born in Tunis and grew up in Saudi Arabia. Her childhood is said to have done much to shape her commitment to democracy, equal rights and civil liberties in the Arab world based on her first hand experiences.

She brought those beliefs with her when she joined the World Bank in 1997.

Riza studied at the London School of Economics in the 1970s before taking a master’s degree at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, where she met her former husband, Turkish Cypriot Bulent Ali Riza, from whom she is now divorced.

After they moved to America, Riza worked for the Iraq Foundation, set up by expatriates to overthrow Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. She subsequently joined the National Endowment for Democracy, created by President Ronald Reagan to promote American ideals.

It was this time that Riza, a British citizen eight years younger than Wolfowitz’s wife – started to meet with Wolfowitz about reforming the Middle East. They allegedly began dating two years ago.

Even by the discreet standards of Washington’s powerful inner circle, their relationship is a remarkably closely guarded secret. The Washington Post says the couple rarely goes out together or demonstrates affection publicly, according to friends who are aware of the relationship. They attend low-key Washington social events and visit friends’ homes together and Riza also sometimes goes to official functions and dinners with him, but is not identified as his partner, an acquaintance said.

“His womanizing has come home to roost,” a Washington insider told reporters. “Paul was a foreign policy hawk long before he met Riza but it doesn’t look good to be accused of being under the thumb of your mistress.”

A Wolfowitz opponent at the World Bank told a reporter: “Unless Riza gives up her job, this will be an impossible conflict of interest.”

Wolfowitz married his wife Clare Selgin in 1968. But they have lived separately since 2001, after allegations he had an affair with an employee at the School of Advanced International Studies where he was dean for seven years. They are now believed to be legally separated.

The World Bank’s staff association has told executives it has been swamped with complaints from employees about Wolfowitz.

However, Wolfowitz’s only comment on the complaints has been a terse statement issued through a Pentagon spokesman. He said: “If a personal relationship presents a potential conflict of interest, I will comply with bank policies to resolve the issue.”

BARBARA FERGUSON writes for the Arab News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail