It's true, nepotism exists all over the world, but "nowhere does it dominate political, economic, and social life as comprehensively as it does in the greater Middle East," a Bloomberg report titled, Arab Regimes' Nepotism Problem, once read.

It's the unfortunate truth. Nepotism, also known as wasta or clientilism, is a reality in the Arab world, governing political, social and economic life.

Hereditary feudal rule has been a base for political life in many Arab countries for a long, long time. 

But, it's not just present in the Arab world. 

It seems as though wasta has been making its way into U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, as both his daughter and son-in-law are now official government employees, going against a central conviction of one of the country's founding fathers. 

How so? 

Let's just say, if America's first president George Washington were alive today, he wouldn't be happy with how the Trump administration is 'evolving'.


America's first president George Washington despised the idea of nepotism (wasta)

Source: Wikipedia

America's first president George Washington was against the idea of hereditary rule, specifically in governance. 

Washington believed that bringing children into governmental power "could be paving the way for hereditary rule," according to Smithsonian Magazine. 

Washington expressed time and again that a government should be formed based on merit, rather than connections. 

He once told a friend that he "would not be in the remotest degree influenced, in making nominations, by motives arising from the ties of amity or blood."

Washington's nephew Bushrod Washington once asked his uncle for a district attorney position. The late president did not let his personal interests get in the way at the time. 

He reminded his nephew that more qualified candidates were seeking the position in a letter.

It was only after Washington left office that he encouraged Bushrod to run for Congress. 

Washington's stance is deeply rooted in the country's history. 

American colonists revolted against Great Britain in the 1770s to rid themselves of inherited power ... But now, and under Trump's administration, it seems to be making a comeback. 

The rise of nepotism in the U.S. administration

Source: Wikipedia

Trump has been pushing for a place in the government administration for both his daughter and son-in-law. 

Earlier this year, Trump confirmed that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will be brokering peace between Palestine and Israel, taking the lead role in the "Middle East peace process." 

Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, has also been named as an official White House employee, sparking controversy over employment ethics, specifically in light of the anti-nepotism law, which was passed in 1967.

The anti-nepotism law states

"A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official."

In 1993, one U.S. court said the anti-nepotism statute does not appear to cover staff in the White House or in the Executive Office of the President. 

"For example, a president would be barred from appointing his brother as attorney general, but perhaps not as a White House special assistant," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote, according to NPR.

There is still disagreement today among the legal community on whether Silberman's opinion is legally binding. 

Despite this very fact, Ivanka Trump explained that she will be an unpaid employee at the White House. 

"I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the President in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House Office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees," Ivanka Trump said in a statement, according to CNN.

"Throughout this process I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role."

There's an Arab motto that says: "Work hard till you become the wasta" ... will the U.S. follow our lead?

Hereditary rule has been the basis of political life in many parts of the Arab world, evident in places like, but not limited to, Iraq, when the late president Saddam Hussein named his younger son Qusay as one of two Baath Party figures. 

Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad became the country's president after a quarter-century of his father's rule.

Many parts of the region are still governed under a monarchical system, where a family exercises a role of sovereignty ... which is at the heart of the concept of nepotism. 

In Saudi Arabia, it's the Al Saud family. In Jordan, where a constitutional monarchy is in place, it's the Hashemites in power.

In countries like Lebanon and Egypt, wasta rules supreme - inside and outside the realm of politics. 

A recent Reddit thread in Lebanon saw many people sharing their personal experiences with wasta, not just in politics but in the workplace in general. 

"Worked in a bank a long time ago. I was still fairly new (1 year working there or less). A new guy comes in (no prior experience) and they ask me to train him. Less than one year later, he has 2/3 promotions in higher up departments and my manager still won't accept to move me to a new department. Turns out he knew the CEO of the bank."