Friday, November 16, 2018

Mideast affairs--behind the scenes

-Nader with Crown Prince MbS

-George Nader, a political adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, last year with President Trump.  Mr. Nader worked to turn a top Trump fund-raiser (Broidy) into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia.
-Nader and Trump
Hundreds of pages of correspondence between the two men reveal an active effort to cultivate President Trump on behalf of the two oil-rich Arab monarchies, both close American allies.  High on the agenda of the two men — George Nader, a political adviser to the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., and Elliott Broidy, the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee — was pushing the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, backing confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar and repeatedly pressing the president to meet privately outside the White House with the leader of the U.A.E….Mr. Nader tempted the fund-raiser, Mr. Broidy, with the prospect of more than $1 billion in contracts for his private security company, Circinus, and he helped deliver deals worth more than $200 million with the United Arab Emirates….
  In a statement Mr. Broidy said that his efforts “aimed to strengthen the national security of the United States, in full coordination with the U.S. government.”  He added “I have always believed strongly in countering both Iran and Islamic extremism and in working closely with our friends in the Arab world in order to do so.”…
  Mr. Nader did however provide a $2.7 million payment to Mr. Broidy for “consulting, marketing and other advisory services rendered,” apparently to help pay for the cost of conferences at two Washington think tanks, the Hudson Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, that featured heavy criticism of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood….The foundation said in a statement that it was approached by Mr. Broidy in 2017 seeking to fund a conference on Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.  “As is our funding policy, we asked if his funding was connected to any foreign governments or if he had business contracts in the Gulf.  He assured us that he did not,” the statement said.  Documents show Mr. Nader’s payment was made by an Emirati-based company he controlled, GS Investments, to an obscure firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia, controlled by Mr. Broidy, Xieman International. …
  Mr. Nader pleaded guilty in 1991 to a federal child pornography charge and served six months at a halfway house after videotapes were found in his luggage when he arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport from a trip to Germany, according to court records released last week.  In 2003 he received a one-year prison sentence in the Czech Republic after he was convicted there of 10 cases of sexually abusing minors,  Associated Press reported, citing a court spokeswoman.
-Broidy and  Netanyahu
Elliott B. Broidy is an American venture capitalist, Republican fundraiser, and philanthropist.  From 2005 to 2008 he was finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.  In 2017 he was named a deputy finance chairman of the RNC.   -Wikipedia
  As for the businessmen, who had intelligence backgrounds, they saw their Iran plan both as a lucrative source of income and as a way to cripple a country that they and the Saudis considered a profound threat.  George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, arranged the meeting.  He had met previously with Prince Mohammed and had pitched the Iran plan to Trump White House officials.  Another participant in the meetings was Joel Zamel, an Israeli with deep ties to his country’s intelligence and security agencies….
  Mr. Nader’s and Mr. Zamel’s plan dates to the beginning of 2016, when they started discussing an ambitious campaign of economic warfare against Iran similar to one waged by Israel and the United States during the past decade aimed at coercing Iran to end its nuclear program.  They sketched out operations like revealing hidden global assets of the Quds Force; creating fake social media accounts in Farsi to foment unrest in Iran; financing Iranian opposition groups; and publicizing accusations, real or fictitious, against senior Iranian officials to turn them against one another.
  Mr. Nader is an adviser to the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, a country that, along with Saudi Arabia and Israel, has identified Iran as the primary threat to stability in the Middle East….
  Mr. Nader and Mr. Zamel enlisted Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater and an adviser to the Trump transition team. They had already discussed elements of their plan with Mr. Prince, in a meeting when they learned of his own paramilitary proposals that he planned to try to sell to the Saudis….
  After Mr. Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, Mr. Nader met frequently with White House officials to discuss the economic sabotage plan….
  Moreover Saudi Maj-General Assiri and his lieutenants were meeting with Mr. Nader around the same time that Mr. Nader was meeting with Prince Mohammed himself, as Saudi officials have acknowledged.  In emails to a business associate obtained by The Times Mr. Nader sometimes referred to conversations he held with Prince Mohammed — also known by his initials, M.B.S. — about other projects he had discussed with General Assiri.
  “Had a truly magnificent meeting with M.B.S.,” Mr. Nader wrote in early 2017, discussing possible Saudi contracts.  The crown prince, he said, had advised him to “review it and discuss it with General Ahmed.”
3-6-18  The United Arab Emirates, which Washington considers one of its closest Arab allies, co-invested together with Mr. Dmitriev’s fund as part of an effort to build close relations to Russia as well.  After Crown Prince Mohammed (MbZ) met with Mr. Putin in 2013 in Moscow on a state visit, two investment arms of the government in Abu Dhabi committed to invest $6 billion in the fund’s Russian projects, eventually paying to build projects like roads, an airport and cancer treatment centers in Russia….
  Public accounts of the Seychelles meeting have varied sharply.  Questioned about it during testimony in November before the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Prince dismissed his encounter with Mr. Dmitriev as little more than a chance run-in.
  He was in the Seychelles for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed and Emirati officials, Mr. Prince said, and after the meeting, the officials suggested he meet Mr. Dmitriev at the bar of the Four Seasons hotel.  “We chatted on topics ranging from oil and commodity prices to how much his country wished for resumption of normal trade relations” with the United States, Mr. Prince said about the meeting, which he said lasted about 30 minutes….
  Mr. Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who advises Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the Emirates, also attended a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles that Mr. Mueller’s investigators have examined. …
-Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian fund manager, represented President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a meeting with Mr. Nader and Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and an informal adviser to President Trump’s transition team.
Mr. Dmitriev, a former Goldman Sachs banker with an M.B.A. from Harvard, was tapped by Mr. Putin in 2011 to manage an unusual state-run investment fund.  Credit:
Mikhail Kireev/Getty Images
6-4-18      In the fall of 2016 Donald Trump Jr. and other key aides to the future president reportedly met in Trump Tower with Joel Zamel, the founder of a company called Wikistrat.
  Wikistrat bills itself as a “crowdsourced” geopolitical analysis firm based in Washington, D.C.  But interviews with current and former employees and documents reviewed by The Daily Beast tell a different story:  that the vast majority of Wikistrat’s clients were foreign governments; that Wikistrat is, for all intents and purposes, an Israeli firm; and that the company’s work was not just limited to analysis.  It also engaged in intelligence collection….according to internal Wikistrat documents marked “highly confidential and sensitive material,” 74 percent of the firm’s revenue came from clients that were foreign governments.
  Although Wikistrat’s clients were overwhelmingly foreign governments, the company boasted incredible access to top U.S. military and intelligence officials. The firm’s advisory council lists former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser James L. Jones, former deputy director of the National Security Council Elliott Abrams, and former acting director of the Defense Intelligence Agency David Shedd, among others.  Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the company’s website is adorned with the insignias of U.S. military agencies and that it claims D.C. as its headquarters….
  “Joel ran a very compartmentalized organization,” one former high-ranking staffer said.  “I felt like I had no real visibility into what the company was really doing,” another former senior employee said.  “He was very secretive, everything was highly compartmentalized… It was clear that he kept the entire company in the dark.  Even [company executives] didn’t have the whole picture,” a former employee said, adding that if someone took a photo at a company gathering, Zamel would leave the room.  “He never allowed anyone to get near his phone, his laptop, stuff like that.”
  Much of the reporting so far has focused on Wikistrat’s relationship with the United Arab Emirates. For instance, The New York Times recently reported a secretive Trump Tower meeting three months before the 2016 presidential election, between Donald Trump Jr., Zamel, and George Nader, an emissary for the UAE.  The meeting drew comparison to the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.
  Zamel is reported to have pitched Trump Jr. on a social-media manipulation strategy to help his father win the election.  After Trump was elected, Nader is said to have paid Zamel a large sum of money—as much as $2 million.
  Zamel is a citizen of Israel and master’s graduate of IDC Herzliya—a small, elite college that’s often compared to U.S. Ivy League schools—where he studied government, diplomacy and strategy, specializing in counterterrorism and homeland security.
  (The internal documents reviewed by The Daily Beast confirm that Zamel also owned the lion’s share—86 percent—of Wikistrat, with the next biggest shareholder possessing less than 6 percent of the company.)
 A former Wikistrat employee confirmed the company was run out of Tel Aviv, with the D.C. office only handling sales and business development, he said.  “He knew a whole lot of people there [in Israel].  One of his connections was the former head of the [Israeli] intelligence directorate, Amos Yadlin.”
  In fact each of Wikistrat’s principals listed Tel Aviv as their address in a 2015 copy of Wikistrat’s Virginia business license.  
Former employees say that at the core of Wikistrat’s leadership were three Israelis:  Daniel Green, the CTO, Elad Schaffer, formerly the COO and now the CEO, and Zamel, the founder and until this year its CEO.  “Those people were very close, and it wasn’t just professional,” one former employee said.
  That former employee added “I had an initial conversation with Joel where I said ‘One of the issues you’re going to run into, if you want to be focused on [U.S.] government work, you’re going to run into problems every day because of the Israeli connection.’  He said ‘Well, why is that?  They’re amazing allies?’”  “There were many conversations internally [about this]... Israel is one of the top counterintelligence concerns for the U.S.”
  One of the internal documents reviewed by The Daily Beast lists a former “major in [an] elite Israeli intelligence-analysis unit,” Shay Hershkovitz, as its chief security officer and director of analytic community.  That document also describes Schaffer as a former “counterterrorism officer for Israeli intelligence.”  “Elad was involved in a very elite, select group of individuals performing a very important mission… dealing with the height of the global war on terrorism,” one former employee said. “He did some collaborative work with U.S. special-operations counterparts who were working in the Middle East to deal with threats coming from al Qaeda.  Elad kept a very low profile.”  Schaffer did not respond to a request for comment….
  The allure of quick and easy money from extravagantly wealthy Middle East leadership figures, coupled with an increasingly personal relationship with them, represented a “shiny object” that lured Zamel away from Wikistrat’s original mission, a former senior Wikistrat employee said.  And although Zamel was rich, he might not have been wealthy enough to float Wikistrat on his own.
   “Kadtke said that, toward the end of 2017 Wikistrat’s ordinary operations (i.e., war games and analysis) went “way down.  Around the beginning of 2017 the three people I knew there left very abruptly… The last study on the website was January 2017 (they used to do a lot).  They seemed to have ceased operations,” Kadtke said.
About Wikistrat  Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., Wikistrat operates a global network of more than 2,000 subject-matter experts working collaboratively via an online platform to help decision-makers identify solutions to complex, strategic, geopolitical, technological and economic challenges. It is pioneering the use of crowdsourcing and big data technologies for scenario planning, policy formation and risk analysis in support of governments and corporations.
-Joel Zamel (?);_ylt=Awr9IlDhO.9b99MAGClXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0NjZjZzZhBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=Joel+Zamel&fr2=piv-web&fr=yfp-t#id=20&
10-9-18   Psy-Group’s owner, Joel Zamel, met in August 2016 with Donald Trump Jr.; Erik Prince, the founder of the Blackwater paramilitary firm and Trump ally; and George Nader, a political consultant with ties to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

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