Shaha Riza

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Shaha Riza
شاها
Shaha Riza 2003-04-11.png
Born Tripoli, Libya
Citizenship United Kingdom
Spouse(s) Bulent Ali Riza (divorced)
Parents Khalid Alwalid Algargany

Shaha Riza, (Arabic: شاها علي رضا‎) (born 1953 or 1954), is a former World Bank employee. Her external assignment at the Foundation for the Future, a "semi-independent foundation to promote democracy" is both in the Middle East and in North Africa.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was born a British national in Tripoli, Libya to a Libyan-Turkish father and Syrian-Saudi mother. She grew up in Libya but attended Catholic boarding school in England. Her father, Khalid Alwalid Algargany, was a consultant of King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, King Saud and King Faisal[disambiguation needed].[citation needed].[2]

Adulthood[edit]

She did her undergraduate studies at London School of Economics, and continued post graduate education at University of Oxford to earn a master's degree in International Relations in 1983 from St Antony's College. During the late 1980s she relocated to the United States, and married Bulent Ali Riza, and they have a son. The marriage later ended in divorce. She speaks Arabic, Turkish, English, French and Italian.[3]

Career[edit]

National Endowment for Democracy[edit]

At the National Endowment for Democracy she set up and led the endowment’s Middle East programs, specializing in Middle East politics and economics field research.

U.S. Department of State[edit]

Here she was employed in the office of Elizabeth Cheney, subordinated to C. David Welch Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Whilst there she began to spend time at the Foundation for the Future.

World Bank[edit]

Beginning as a consultant in July 1997 and then full-time in 1999,[2] she worked with the Middle East and North Africa Social and Economic Development Group of the World Bank. First as a Senior Gender Specialist and then as a Senior Communications Officer, she was seated in the Middle East and North Africa Regional Office (MENA). By July 2002, she was acting manager for external affairs and outreach for MENA, but resigned after Paul Wolfowitz takes leadership as World Bank president.

Freelance work[edit]

In 2004, Riza organized a major conference of North African and Middle Eastern groups in Beirut. Her goal was to inspire democratic reforms in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein as she felt planting democracy in Iraq will inspire other regimes to democratic goals. Riza is reportedly earns $180,000 salary after taxes in 2008, and works from home.[4]

World Bank controversy[edit]

Riza did not report to the World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz while at the World Bank. Riza was romantically linked to Wolfowitz prior to his World Bank involvement, when he was Deputy Secretary of Defence under Donald Rumsfeld in the Bush Administration.[5] In 2005 Wolfowitz offered to sign a statement to isolate himself from her [6] which only served to draw scrutiny to what grew into a perceived conflict of interest. The World Bank ethics committee rejected Wolfowitz's proposal after Wolfowitz refused to include recusal from professional contact with Riza in the proposal.

Subsequently, Paul Wolfowitz was alleged to have involved himself in Riza's career by personally increasing her pay. This was a potential impropriety. Instead, Riza was asked to leave the World Bank altogether. She even forwent a promotion for which she was highly recommended.[7] By 2007 the Board of the World Bank accepted that Paul Wolfowitz acted ethically. Still by June of that year Wolfowitz resigned.

In retrospect, staffing policy was to the contrary. Rule 4.01, paragraph 5.2, states that spouses and registered domestic partners are barred from working in situations where "one supervises the other directly or indirectly", but informal relationships fall under rule 3.01, paragraph 4.02, which states that in such cases, as Wolfowitz and Riza's relationship, the supervisor "shall be responsible for seeking a resolution of the conflict of interest."[7]

In 2007 Riza released an internal statement which she had submitted as part of a defence to her employers to The Wall Street Journal as follows:[8]

  1. My professional status at the Bank pre-dates the arrival of the new President. I began work in the Bank in 1997.
  2. There is no Bank regulation or staff rule that required me to leave the Bank in order to resolve this situation.
  3. I was not given a choice to stay and, against my personal preference and professional interests, I agreed to accept an external assignment in 2005 upon the insistence of the Ethics Committee.
  4. Against Bank rules and the Agreement I signed with the Bank, the details of the assignment and my personnel file have been leaked to the press and staff. As you well know my salary and grade level are quite common for World Bank staff that have years of experience, background and education similar to mine.
  5. The cumulative effect of the decision made in 2005 and the recent media circus over the issue have done significant harm to my career, my personal well-being, and my prospects to continue the work I love and where my expertise resides.

Public outcry[edit]

Prominent newspapers, among them The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal condemned the fates of Wolfowitz and Riza. Christopher Hitchens described the removal of Riza and Wolfowitz as "character assassination." He surmised that this was all due to personal conflict between the U.S. and European branches at the World Bank.[9] Further, he surmised that this was retribution for Wolfowitz's support of the Iraq war.[9]

Robert Holland maintained that Wolfowitz's resignation has nothing to do with Riza's promotion. Holland served on the bank's board of directors until 2006.[10] Sari Nusseibeh wrotes an open letter to the Washington Post on April 30, 2007 about this "unfair and vicious campaign." [11] Andrew Young describes Riza as "an admired World Bank professional and a champion of human rights."[12] Sandra Day O'Connor a board member at the Foundation for the Future, describes Riza as "a very competent person." [13] Even Clare Selgin Wolfowitz praises Riza, "Shaha Riza is a dedicated and serious reform advocate who has my respect."[2]

On April 17, 2007, the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed that characterized the scandal as a witch hunt.[14] The New York Times called for Wolfowitz's resignation on April 28, 2007.[15]

World Bank stance[edit]

Wolfowitz was confirmed as president in June 2005. According to a World Bank Ethics Committe Case report[non-primary source needed], Wolfowitz acknowledged[16] his association with Riza and stated that "...during the negotiations of my contract, to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, I provided a statement to the Board recusing myself from any personnel actions or decisions with respect to a longstanding professional staff member of the Bank with whom it has been reported that I have a prior personal relationship." The committee proposed a recommendation of "mutually agreed separation."[17]

Autobiography and publication list[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steven R. Weisman (2007-04-13). "Turmoil Grows for World Bank Chief". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c Weeks, Linton; Leiby, Richard (May 10, 2007). "In the Shadow of a Scandal". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Cooper, Helene (April 14, 2007). "Companion of Wolfowitz Rejects Portrayal". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  4. ^ Kamen, Al (2 July 2008). "I Feel Pretty and Witty and . . . What?". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). 
  5. ^ "World Bank meets over Wolfowitz". BBC News. 2007-04-13. 
  6. ^ http://www.slate.com/id/2166136/pagenum/all/#p2
  7. ^ a b Kenneth Anderson (2007-05-06). "How the Ethics Committee Failed Wolfowitz". The Financial Times. 
  8. ^ "Statement by Shaha Riza". The Wall Street Journal. April 30, 2007. 
  9. ^ a b http://www.slate.com/id/2166136/
  10. ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9558497
  11. ^ "To Whom It May Concern,". The Washington Post. May 13, 2007. 
  12. ^ Young, Andrew (April 30, 2007). "The Right Man for the World Bank". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ Weeks, Linton; Leiby, Richard (May 10, 2007). "In the Shadow of a Scandal". The Washington Post. 
  14. ^ The Wall Street Journal Online - Featured Article
  15. ^ "Far Past Time to Go". The New York Times. April 28, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Ethics Committee Case No 2 and President Papers" (pdf). World Bank Release. 12 April 2007. Archived from the original on 12-12-2008. Retrieved 17-08-2014. 
  17. ^ "Ethics Committee Case No 2 and President Papers" (pdf). World Bank Release: pages 25–28. April 12, 2007. Archived from the original on 12-12-2008. Retrieved 17-08-2014. 

External links[edit]