Military Money

How the Pentagon Props Up Mideast Strongmen

The U.S. has voiced support for young protesters in the Middle East—but at the same time, government cash is enriching ruling families in several countries in order to receive support for military bases in their countries. The U.S. has paid more than $14 billion in sole-source contracts to companies controlled by ruling families in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait. In Abu Dhabi, for example, it purchases all of its fuel for Air Force planes—$5.2 billion worth since 2005—to a company controlled by the ruling Nahyan family. There was no competitive-bidding process, as the Pentagon usually requires. A former ambassador calls it “a potential effect of doing business in nondemocratic countries.”