Whether or not she made it to the final short list--Bank officials have different recollections--she was no shoe-in for the promotion. Two years earlier, Jean-Louis Sarbib, then the vice president for the Middle East region, had proposed Riza for a similar position, and the human resources board had rejected her. The board noted, according to a report made available to The Nation, that Sarbib should have sought other applicants for the position, that Riza "needs to establish herself as a communications professional," and that she should not receive a "promotion through the backdoor." Riza did not meet the minimum job qualifications: an advanced degree in communications and 15 years of experience. She was a gender specialist at the Bank--a well-known Arab feminist-- who had done communications work for only a few years.
In the Paul and Shaha saga, the work (or non-work) of the Foundation for the Future is not the main issue. Riza ended up there after a Wolfowitz friend (Anwar) wrote the Bank and asked for Riza to be detailed to the foundation--and a Wolfowitz crony (Cleveland) said yes. Whether such actions violate any Bank rules, this is incestuous. Consider the overall scenario: thanks to her boyfriend, Shaha Riza, after receiving a hefty pay raise, could serve as an adviser to a barely-functioning foundation she helped create, working with a friend of her romantic partner, and pull in $200,000 to $400,000 annually over the next ten years. And then she could retire with a $110,000 per year pension. This is quite a deal for the average foundation aide in Washington. In all that, is there nothing wrong? (Wolfowitz attorney Robert Bennett told Newsweek that it was Riza who "worked up the numbers" and pressed Wolfowitz to craft such generous terms.)
After first admitting he committed an error, Wolfowitz now fiercely argues he is the victim of a smear campaign waged by Bank employees who opposed him from the get-go due to his role in the Iraq war. His detractors at the Bank may be out to bring him down as payback for Iraq and for his heavy-handed management ways at the Bank. But Wolfowitz, who entered the Bank a self-styled scourge of corruption, has handed them potent ammunition. Every recipient of World Bank money must now want deals with terms so sweet.