The Central Boycott Office

This news is a couple of weeks old, but I found telling what German news magazine Der Spiegel discovered in attorney documents which are part of the file on the Siemens corruption scandal (which also extends to bribery in Saudi Arabia – see this excellent WS Journal article):

The documents suggest that a part of the €72mn which Siemens paid to a certain Mohiedden el Shatta was used to make sure that Siemens remained off the black list of the Central Boycott Office. This office which is Damascus-based but affiliated with the Arab League was founded in the 50s to organize the Arab world’s commercial boycott of Israel. Companies which are on the list face restrictions in doing business with Arab states.

Here is some background on the office from a paper published by MEMRI:


In other words, the Boycott Office has now become an instrument to fight globalization which threatens primarily the Syrian state-run command economy drowning under the weight of stifling regulations, pernicious corruption and a mafia-style political system. Syrian staff are the primary beneficiaries of the salaries advanced by the Arab League. If the CBO were abolished, many of these bureaucrats will be out of work or will be working as civil servants in the Syrian government at a fraction of their current salaries and benefits.


MEMRI has its agenda etc, but to me it looks like this thing still exists only to organize some extra baksheesh for Syria’s state-class, as the Der Spiegel article also claims:

“To be removed from the [boycott] list, Western companies allegedly paid millions.�