Steve Bannon’s already murky Middle East ties deepen

Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 25 October 2017 07:21.

McClatchyDC.com, “Steve Bannon’s already murky Middle East ties deepen”, 23 Oct 2017:

Former presidential aide Steve Bannon appears to be fostering ties to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, countries that have cut off ties with Qatar and have been encouraging the United States to act against the nation as well - though it is home to largest American base in the Middle East. Brynn Anderson AP

White House

WASHINGTON

Shortly after Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon left the White House, a company with close ties to him was hired by the United Arab Emirates to launch a social media campaign against its Arab neighbor, Qatar.

It was part of a multimillion-dollar effort by several Middle Eastern nations to isolate Qatar that received a boost when Trump criticized the country that for years had been a critical regional ally.

The UAE is paying $330,000 to a firm with the same parent company as Cambridge Analytica, the business Trump employed to reach voters with hyper-targeted online messaging during the campaign, to blast Qatar on Facebook and Twitter, among other sites, according to federal records.

Bannon, who remains one of Trump’s closest advisers, has long had an interest in the region. He has huddled with UAE officials behind closed doors, visited the country as recently as last month and pushed for a group of Middle Eastern nations, including the UAE, in their bitter dispute with Qatar.

On Monday, Bannon is scheduled to speak at a day-long conference in Washington organized by the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank and paid for by multiple donors, entitled “Countering Violent Extremism: Qatar, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The speech follows Bannon’s September meeting in the UAE with its crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. The two weren’t strangers: Bannon, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn met with the crown prince at Trump Tower during the presidential transition in December. That meeting triggered controversy, as the UAE hadn’t notified the outgoing Obama administration about the visit as is customary.

The UAE also helped broker a meeting in January between a Bannon friend, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin to try to establish a back-channel line of communication to Moscow for Trump just days before Trump’s inauguration, according to the Washington Post; Prince met with the Russian in the Seychelle islands off East Africa.

Prince lives in the UAE and had a multimillion dollar contract with that government to assemble a mercenary security force there. His firm also does security work in Africa, much of it for Chinese interests. But Bannon has encouraged Prince to move back to the U.S. and run for office, and in recent weeks, Prince has begun to publicly consider a primary challenge to Wyoming GOP Sen. John Barrasso.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut off all ties with Qatar in June, supposedly in response to its alleged support of terrorism and ties to Iran, and mounted a blockade against the nation. Trump abruptly began accusing Qatar of funding terrorism despite its importance as host to al Udeid, the largest American military base in the Middle East, home to nearly 10,000 troops.

The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level, and in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior.
            - President Donald Trump

“The U.S. has a pretty substantial presence across the Middle East, but al Udeid is the most important,” said Mara Karlin, who worked at the Defense Department during the prior two administrations and is now a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Bannon, who through a spokesman declined to comment for this story, has said little publicly about Qatar. But Breitbart News, the far-right website he ran before going into the White House and where he is now once again ensconced, published more than 80 Qatar-related headlines since the blockade began, most of which were critical of the nation.

“Jihad-Friendly Qatar May Have Inspired Former Gitmo Detainees to Return to Terror,” declared a June 15 headline.

Another, 10 days later, read “Report: Qatari Ruling Family Importing Hezbollah Fighters for Protection.”

Bannon has said he is planning to start a global conference series through Breitbart. “We are in advance discussions about having Breitbart sponsor a major security conference in sub-Saharan Africa, the Persian Gulf, central Europe, and East Asia, in early to mid-2018,” he told Bloomberg recently.

Trump’s comments attacking Qatar this summer were at odds with what other administration officials were saying. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called for the Gulf countries to resolve the dispute. “We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” he said.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!
2:06 PM - Jun 6, 2017

“Many people felt blindsided because they were getting mixed messages,” said Marc Lynch, director of the project on Middle East Political Science at George Washington University. “Trump’s tweets really undermined the administration.”


Tillerson is traveling to the Middle East, where he has planned stops in Saudi Arabia and Qatar to discuss the Gulf dispute with leaders from both countries.

H.E. Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of the government communications office for Qatar, said his country — aided in part by an agreement with the U.S. — has done more to combat terrorism than any other nation in the region. He said there has been no shift in U.S. policy toward Qatar and declined to respond to questions about Bannon.

“While Qatar works openly and transparently with the United States and its allies to share information and fight terrorism wherever it exists, UAE spends its energy and resources hacking websites and planting fake news stories,” he said. “When that doesn’t work, they pay to spread disinformation about Qatar through advertising and social media. That is their choice, but it won’t change the facts.”

Representatives of the UAE and Saudi Arabia declined to comment.

The conflict – and Trump’s apparent willingness to encourage it – spurred a costly and coordinated, multi-faceted campaign. The situation began to escalate last May, when the UAE orchestrated the hacking of Qatari news and social media sites to plant incendiary quotes falsely attributed to Qatar’s emir.

In Washington, it set off a feeding frenzy in influence circles, with the Gulf states on both sides forking over more than $7 million in new contracts since June to influence-peddlers, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s law firm and the Podesta Group, co-founded by a longtime ally of Hillary Clinton, according to federal records.

Another firm, the Harbour Group was paid more than $2.5 million by the UAE for work between October 2016 and March 2017, according to the most recent filing available, and signed a contract with the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia 11 days before the blockade was announced paying the firm $80,000 per month. Harbour, which has represented the UAE for 15 years, declined to comment.

“Since very little is actually happening on the ground, they’re ramping up the propaganda,” Lynch said.

Those attending Monday’s conference in Washington will be given copies of a new documentary with a strong point of view about the Middle East conflict. “Qatar: A Dangerous Alliance,” supposedly has been watched by more than 10 million viewers online and is now available on Amazon.

The event features two other keynote speakers, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former CIA Director David Petraeus, both of whom worked in the Obama administration. They were hired to speak through Washington Speakers Bureau, where they are clients. Bannon is not listed as a client on the website and the company did not respond to a request for comment.

Panetta , who said in an interview that he was not aware Bannon was speaking at the event, called the administration’s rhetoric on Qatar a “knee-jerk reaction” to the blockade.

One of the donors is Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles-based investment manager who serves as a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee, according to a person with knowledge of the arrangement who was not authorized to speak publicly. Broidy, who also sits on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, referred questions to the Hudson Institute, which did not return calls.

SCL Social Limited, which shares the same ownership and leadership as Cambridge Analytica, recently disclosed a $330,000 contract with the National Media Council of UAE for “a wide range of services specific to a global media campaign,” according to Foreign Agents of Registration Act records. It received $166,500 Sept. 20.

Bannon, who served as White House chief strategist until August, retained an ownership stake in Cambridge Analytica worth $1 million to $5 million when he entered the White House, according to his financial disclosure report. He had served as vice president and secretary for Cambridge Analytica and received a monthly consulting fee for his work before resigning his position there in August 2016. Bannon was supposed to sell the stake while he served in the administration as part of his ethics agreement and obtained a certificate of divestiture in April 2017 to defer taxes on the potential sale. However, there’s no indication that he actually sold the stake, as he never filed the transaction report that’s required after the purchase or sale of any asset.

Another of the company’s owners is Robert Mercer, the billionaire who spent millions of dollars helping Trump get elected. Cambridge Analytica didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The House Intelligence Committee, which is looking into whether Trump associates worked with Russia to meddle in the 2016 election, has questioned Cambridge Analytica, according to the Daily Beast.

Example of one of the tweets promoted by SCL Social Limited to target NGOs, foreign diplomats and reporters attending the September United Nations General Assembly in New York.

SCL had a $75,000 budget specifically for pushing social media during the United National General Assembly that included ad buys exhorting a boycott of Qatar on Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords, YouTube and Outbrain, an online advertiser. The ads primary target audience were non-governmental organizations, foreign diplomats and specific reporters, according to the records.

But there were signs that the campaign may not have worked, at least not with the president.

Trump’s tone on Qatar softened in the weeks after Bannon left the White House, placing a greater emphasis on the need for a resolution to the conflict. At the U.N. in September, Trump met with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, emphasizing the deep ties between the two countries while failing to respond to questions about his previous allegations.

“We’ve been friends a long time; people don’t realize that,” Trump said. “And we are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East, and…I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly.”

               

                Bannon out days after Trump defended him

White House advisor Steve Bannon has been ousted from the Trump administration just days after President Donald Trump defended him at a press conference. Listen to Trump’s comments about Bannon on August 16, 2017



Comments: None.



Post a comment:


Name: (required)

Email: (required but not displayed)

URL: (optional)

Note: You should copy your comment to the clipboard or paste it somewhere before submitting it, so that it will not be lost if the session times out.

Remember me


Next entry: The Water Will Come and US Cities are Under Threat
Previous entry: Dominic Thomas gaslights ‘idea’ of the ‘West’, European people who ‘aren’t already incredibly mixed’

image of the day

Existential Issues

DNA Nations

Establishment Problem

Categories

Links

Endorsement not implied.

Immigration

Islamist Threat

Anti-white Media Networks

Audio/Video

Crime

Economics

Education

General

Historical Re-Evaluation

Controlled Opposition

Nationalist Political Parties

Science

Europeans in Africa

Of Note

Comments

Elizabeth I commented in entry 'PM speech to Lord Mayor's Banquet stresses importance of international rules-based system' on Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:15. (View)

Bush, Ford and Warren commented in entry 'JFK assassination files released: declassified documents reveal CIA plots to kill Fidel Castro' on Thu, 16 Nov 2017 20:56. (View)

Bush / JFK assassination connections commented in entry 'JFK assassination files released: declassified documents reveal CIA plots to kill Fidel Castro' on Thu, 16 Nov 2017 20:25. (View)

More earthlike planets being discovered commented in entry 'NASA invests in 22 visionary exploration concepts, including asteroid mining' on Thu, 16 Nov 2017 12:55. (View)

Kushner co. accused of illegal rent inflation commented in entry 'Undoing inherited wisdom & means of separatism / forcing integration - YKW doing as YKW do' on Thu, 16 Nov 2017 04:29. (View)

Louis CK and the 1/4 issue commented in entry 'Test Your Capacity To See Through Jewish Crypsis: Which ones are Jewish?' on Thu, 16 Nov 2017 02:49. (View)

Un-Fairstein comes to Weinstein's rescue commented in entry 'Coerced Confessions of The Central Park Five' on Thu, 16 Nov 2017 01:43. (View)

Angela Nagle discussing her take on the Alt-Right commented in entry 'Angela Nagle: they think voluntary outbreeding is genocide. Cultural Marxism, Jewish porn! lol.' on Wed, 15 Nov 2017 13:09. (View)

African knowingly gives HIV to French women commented in entry 'black hyper-assertiveness' on Wed, 15 Nov 2017 11:04. (View)

Spencer's straw man commented in entry 'Poland is correct to denounce Richard Spencer' on Wed, 15 Nov 2017 10:42. (View)

Black murder of White working class commented in entry 'black hyper-assertiveness' on Wed, 15 Nov 2017 01:37. (View)

Evidence of Trump-Russia collusion exists commented in entry 'Abnormal: AltRight.com celebrates the Soviet Union's victory and fêtes Russia's imperialist legacy.' on Tue, 14 Nov 2017 10:50. (View)

Turkey/Flynn plot to kidnap Gulen commented in entry 'Mueller investigating Flynn over alleged plan to deliver accused coup organizer to Erdogan' on Tue, 14 Nov 2017 10:41. (View)

Key moment in decline of US power in Asia-Pacific commented in entry 'North Atlantic: You Have Spread Your Dreams Under Their Feet' on Tue, 14 Nov 2017 10:13. (View)

Not true, Putin told me so. commented in entry 'Abnormal: AltRight.com celebrates the Soviet Union's victory and fêtes Russia's imperialist legacy.' on Tue, 14 Nov 2017 06:59. (View)

DanielS commented in entry 'Pragmatism as ethnonationalism's tool against radical skepticism' on Mon, 13 Nov 2017 22:09. (View)

Arthur commented in entry 'So what are we to make of the crisis in Catalonia?' on Mon, 13 Nov 2017 20:12. (View)

Guessedworker commented in entry 'Pragmatism as ethnonationalism's tool against radical skepticism' on Mon, 13 Nov 2017 18:00. (View)

Guessedworker commented in entry 'Pragmatism as ethnonationalism's tool against radical skepticism' on Mon, 13 Nov 2017 15:47. (View)

Palace intrigue in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon commented in entry 'Trump may have pushed Saudi Arabia and Iran closer to war' on Mon, 13 Nov 2017 13:31. (View)

DanielS commented in entry 'Pragmatism as ethnonationalism's tool against radical skepticism' on Mon, 13 Nov 2017 11:41. (View)

mancinblack commented in entry 'U.K. Cabinet Minister Priti Patel Resigns Over Secret Israeli Meetings' on Sun, 12 Nov 2017 09:06. (View)

Captainchaos commented in entry 'U.K. Cabinet Minister Priti Patel Resigns Over Secret Israeli Meetings' on Sat, 11 Nov 2017 21:46. (View)

Captainchaos commented in entry 'Pragmatism as ethnonationalism's tool against radical skepticism' on Sat, 11 Nov 2017 21:34. (View)

DanielS commented in entry 'U.K. Cabinet Minister Priti Patel Resigns Over Secret Israeli Meetings' on Sat, 11 Nov 2017 10:39. (View)

next level commented in entry 'U.K. Cabinet Minister Priti Patel Resigns Over Secret Israeli Meetings' on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 15:33. (View)

mancinblack commented in entry 'U.K. Cabinet Minister Priti Patel Resigns Over Secret Israeli Meetings' on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 09:41. (View)

Better robot than red commented in entry '"Aspen Institute" (((panel))) discusses Russian Active Measures, Putin and Trump connections' on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 05:52. (View)

OJ's scariest Halloween costume: himself commented in entry 'O.J. Simpson's Giddy Parole Board Hearing' on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 03:19. (View)

EU to preserve Iran nuclear deal commented in entry 'Trump gained presidency through pledge to YKW to undo Iran Deal: that promise he's materializing' on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 02:56. (View)

Japan goes TPP without US commented in entry 'North Atlantic: You Have Spread Your Dreams Under Their Feet' on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 02:50. (View)

Evacuation of Lebanon commented in entry 'Trump may have pushed Saudi Arabia and Iran closer to war' on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 02:20. (View)

DanielS commented in entry 'Pragmatism as ethnonationalism's tool against radical skepticism' on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 00:18. (View)

Saudi consolidates power, another sign of war commented in entry 'Trump may have pushed Saudi Arabia and Iran closer to war' on Thu, 09 Nov 2017 16:19. (View)

Captainchaos commented in entry 'Pragmatism as ethnonationalism's tool against radical skepticism' on Thu, 09 Nov 2017 13:40. (View)

affection-tone