Tag Archives: US Secretary of State

A big tree in the desert

It started a little while ago, 4 nations got angry at Qatar, I wrote about it earlier. There were issues on both sides and there were intelligence considerations as well. In this Germany intelligence decided to shed light on the matter by investigating certain sources. A path I reckon that until now has not been too successful. A path that was equally a given not to be too successful, yet what was not expected was the issue shown a few days later when on July 16th The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/uae-hacked-qatari-government-sites-sparking-regional-upheaval-according-to-us-intelligence-officials/2017/07/16/00c46e54-698f-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html), the issue shown with “The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials“, in addition there is “In a statement released in Washington by its ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE said the Post article was “false.”“, which is to be expected. Finally we get “Qatar has repeatedly charged that its sites were hacked, but it has not released the results of its investigation. Intelligence officials said their working theory since the Qatar hacks has been that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt or some combination of those countries were involved. It remains unclear whether the others also participated in the plan“, which is an equal truth. In addition, we need to realise that this is not some fake news site, this is the Washington Post, America’s answer to The Times, and its high ethics in journalism have been established for the longest of times, so when we see a mere 2 hours ago (at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/qatar-diplomatic-crisis-latest-updates-170605105550769.html) the update “Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt say they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it shows willingness to fight ‘terrorism’” a quote given after we see the headline ‘The latest news after some of the Gulf states and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air blockade‘, yet in light of the found hack(s), how valid are these blockades? In addition we see in regarding the Hajj pilgrimage that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are in a he said versus he said situation, a side we would not have expected from these two evolved nations. There is a larger drawback in all this, as Turkey is trying to ‘ingratiate’ their own agenda, they are now becoming a stronger middleman for anything Iran has in mind, whilst not being connected to the action and in addition to that, the pressures at present are also enabling abilities in Palestine. There is no clear intelligence that is in the open that should be regarded as reliable, yet the ‘watercooler chats‘ seem to imply that calls between the PSS and Hezbollah wave allegedly been happening with some ‘regularity’ in the last 4 weeks, if that is so, than additional pressures on Israel cannot be far away.

Back to Qatar, the latest news gives that according to Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State that Qatar has met with the commitments that they were promising, there is a given that when Saudi Arabia, in conjunction with three allies that are not the smallest, any nation under pressure would be willing to comply with any reasonable demand that does not impede national pride to get in the way. Yet, what has the opposition offered at present? In my view the German promise seems unlikely to result to be any form of a working tactic to get some kind of resolution in play. You see, if there was any actual support being given, it would not be registered. I hope that the Americans learned that part when they found Osama Bin Laden a mere one mile from an elite Pakistani military academy. In my view there is no way that those involved with the security there had no knowledge of EVERY building within two miles of the academy. In that same air, you might think that Qatar is aware of any terrorist involvement, that is not the case, but there is ample proof on a few levels that it is utterly impossible that no one knew. The issue becomes how high does it go?

In that same light we need to look at another source. In this case I am looking at a piece by Sami Moubayed. The title ‘Qatar PR blitz is fooling no one‘ (at http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/qatar-pr-blitz-is-fooling-no-one-1.2067427) is not the part that matters. We might wonder why he focusses on the amounts like $150,000 a month for ‘research, government relations, and strategic consulting services‘, which might also include ‘communications with members of Congress and Congressional staff, executive branch officials, the media, and other individuals‘, the second cost at $2.5 million for former US Attorney General John Ashcroft who would be auditing Qatari efforts at halting terrorism funding. It is interesting how he is going to achieve that as the scope of monitoring and verification is close to impossible when we consider the rogue spears we have seen in Iran in the past, a mere general was able to give the largest level of materials and support towards the enemies of Israel. In this I saw that over that they missed out on options to increase visibility of close to 75% for a mere $10,000 a month (excluding my commission mind you), in light of the mentioned $138,000 not the greatest expense. Yet the important truth is given soon thereafter in “This is where the problem started and where serious work needs to be done to rebrand the country’s political orientation. No PR firm can do the job — it can be done by one person only, being Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani“, which is only partially true. They still need a facilitator to give a wider voice, or better spoken a channel to transfer the words of Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani to a much wider audience.

Sami is right when he states “Only he has the power to change his country’s image in the eyes of its neighbours“, and in this I am not even mentioning his valid reason of “All Qatar needs to do is walk away from Hamas and Yousuf Al Qaradawi“, which would have been a good idea any day of the week. Qatar has a few more options, options that they did not even realise that they had. There is a case to be made to revamp Al Jazeera TV’s editorial policy. Yet as it is speaking to the hearts and minds of Muslims (to a larger extent), I would not be able to give proper advice in that place, what does matter is that non-Muslims know what Al-Jazeera is, yet in reality those people do not know what EXACTLY Al-Jazeera is and that could be a small task, easier rectified and it starts on their own website. Not the flaccid minute under the heading of ‘about us‘. That current part of 200 words with the ‘Who we are‘ is so minute, so none telling that is overlooked with the mere blink of an eye. The words there “Launched in 1996, Al Jazeera Arabic was the first independent news channel in the Arab world dedicated to providing comprehensive news and live debate“, is laughter incarnate in my personal opinion! I am willing to bet a building on the fact that their 1996 was a challenge worthy of a small novel to say the least, so why not properly introduce Al-Jazeera to Muslims and non-Muslims alike? If Al-Jazeera is truly in 100 countries, the cheapest of solutions (read: SAP Dashboard) could add visibility to what is being offered, the network could grow through offering visibility using a mere BI consultant, which in all likelihood is already walking around in at least one of their 100 offices. In similar visibility they are presently (as their website indicates) not in France or the Netherlands, and perhaps at least in one office in one of the Scandinavian countries with the ability to offer local language support to thousands of Muslims. To the extent that this is PR that is massively cheaper than some PR offices offer and that is something Qatar would have in their own hands, working a social network with localisation. Interesting that that was not mentioned anywhere.

My ideas are directly reflective of the words of Sami Moubayed as he states “Somebody needs to whisper in the ear of the emir — and senior management at Al Jazeera — that they need to do a better job to polish their image; rather than spend millions on agencies in London and Washington, it’s far more urgent — and less costly — to do the job at home“, yet he does it in absence of directness or direct ideas on how to do it. I reckon that is fair enough, the man is a historian; he mostly lives in the past, not in the tomorrow. That is not an accusation; it is merely a factual realisation.

In this, the strongest point he makes is seen with “After a wave of agony swept the Arab World since 2011, this doesn’t sell any longer throughout the region. In fact, it sounds and reads as cheap, cliché, and very outdated“, this is exactly why the entire dashboard is such a step forward, I noticed a few more issues. There would be a fair debate whether this is laziness, or mere editorial policy. A case could be made for either side, yet the issue remains.

As we say goodbye to the Al-Jazeera side, we need to embrace one more part in the article by Sami. When we revisit the title ‘Qatar PR blitz is fooling no one‘, I will argue that there is no fooling going on, the article reads nice, but it is not an ‘or’ situation, Qatar is in a ‘and’ situation, where they need to visit issues on inclusion and finding more options to visit, not choosing from some selection and there is a need to be clever about it because the cost and effect of $150,000 a month needs to be examined as how it was spend and what was gained. The question on rebranding politics is also up for grabs, is it about branding or making sure that the visibility is correctly vetted? These elements are not the same and the cause and effect here is also implicitly seen as we see the reactions from the 4 neighbours currently not happy with Qatar. In this, there is an additional part for me set in the issues from Saudi Arabia. I have not read the original reports (and my knowledge of the Arabian language can be rounded upwards towards 0%), yet the press on a near global scale have never given proper item by item view of all the elements, more important towards the evidence as the other 3 (minus the hacking UAE) have offered them with shown source intelligence. It would be so embarrassing if the other three plaintiffs are all depending on one and the same source (an unknown part and speculative from my side). I believe that open clear communication is a first step to resolve it. the fact that my glasses got initially tainted because Al-Jazeera was kind enough to start that day with voicing anti-Semitism through  broadcasting sermons by the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, that was not a good day for Al-Jazeera in light of the stresses in Doha that day. This is exactly why reforming, or better stated editing the ‘powers to be’ within Al-Jazeera sooner rather than later.

For me, I have always been a fan of oversimplifying any issue, so when I look at the grievances now in play, if there could be talks and the three nations can name one item that would show the good intentions of Qatar, what would it be and could Qatar comply with these three items? You see, it might sound oversimplified, but the reality is that all large achievements start small, one step at a time. In that way, we are not enabling either Iran or Turkey (there are issues with some of their decisions), there is an open view of the matter at hand and there is movement in a stress reducing direction. If those three items would stop the blockades, there would be a first step in resolution and more important, as I personally see it, the risk of escalation, as two nations miscommunicate between two optional dinghies and send missiles in the wrong direction is definitely a good element to prevent. Consider the implications, if we see the choice from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Would the biggest issue of his kingdom be with the dissidents or with the Iranian connections?

I believe that certain actions are becoming increasingly important, not merely because of the pressures and stresses, the short term issue is seen as we read “The boycotting countries have previously told the WTO that they would cite national security to justify their actions against Qatar, using a controversial and almost unprecedented exemption allowed under the WTO rules” (at http://www.trtworld.com/mea/qatar-crisis-latest-developments-413572), the problem here is that if this element is accepted, the WTO is not merely a cannel of facilitation, it would leave Qatar with very little to work with, it would in addition leave Turkey with holding the bag as the shops are showing in big signs ‘From Turkey by air – New products‘, if those remain Turkey itself ends up in deep hot waters with all the repercussions that follow. As my Law classes included all matters Wise, Terrible and Obvious, the words as given in Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/03/01/trump-admins-yugely-terrible-trade-idea-to-ignore-wto-rulings-america-doesnt-like/#7edfa5103a9f)

With: “Not obeying WTO rules allows countries to close their markets to your exports, it doesn’t force them to open them up“, that would be a stage with issues on several levels we really don’t want to end up at.

This also gets me to the article for another reason. The March 1st article shows more than you expected. You see with “The Trump administration sent shockwaves through the world of trade yesterday when the Financial Times reported that it was looking for ways to bypass the World Trade Organization, the 22-year-old oversight body that adjudicates trade disputes, and which Trump has called a “disaster.”” we now get a second consideration, is the Trump administration using the Qatar strategy to try to thwart the WTO in another way, trying to take away the equality and fairness that the WTO had in the past to set a different set of rules. Did the White House legal team brief the four non-Qatari minded players to use this to put more pressure on Qatar? It might be a valid tactic, yet the US could have had other reasons for pushing the WTO, the question is whether that is equally in play here, if that is so (speculative from my side) than it is the US that has done more than increase pressures on Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE. It is trying to change the global setting of trade in what I expect to be the most selfish of reasons, under those conditions, we might soon see that being a member of the EU is no longer a benefit, as it would become the anchor holding the other EU nations back in trade, merely for the reason that they cannot simply change trade rules for the EU.

So if Doha means Big Tree, we have to wonder what the board looks like at present, it seems that certain actions have been put into motion to set a season of drought for this big tree. We can argue that they did part of it to themselves, yet when we see that other players have had certain personal needs, who is actually trying to resolve the situation with a total absence of personal selfish needs? As I see it not the PR firms, in equal measure there are certain steps that Al-Jazeera could have put into place months ago, yet that too has not been achieved, so who on the side of Qatar is actually thinking of Qatar? I know it is not Turkey or Iran. I do not know who is, but as we see other sources state that “In a study by David Andrew Weinberg that was published in January by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) titled “Qatar and Terror Finance: Part II: Private Funders of [al-Qaida] in Syria,” he wrote: “Based on these cases, there is no persuasive proof that Qatar has stopped letting certain terror financiers off the hook.”” (source: Jerusalem Post), we see that Qatar needs to start considering what is important to Qatar, because in the end Hamas will not care, they merely continue with their path of hatred against that state of Israel with whatever funds they can lay their fingers on. With all the considerations we would want to give to Qatar, it is the actions of Qatar, shown by too many sources that they themselves are becoming (read: have become) their own worst enemy. The one question that Sami Moubayed leaves us with is any of this done (read: facilitated) with the clear approval of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar? That is the part that matters the most and that path also shows the path of least resistance in hopefully finding a solution to the matter for all the players involved.

 

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Short Sighted Dangers

For those who have an easy time not remembering things, we need to start to take them back to 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives with an infamous silver coloured briefcase, and no one knew what was in it. It was evidence of Iraq and the fact that they had Weapons of Mass destruction. The Guardian, on June 2nd of that year give us: “The Bush administration, under increased scrutiny for failing to find Saddam Hussein’s arsenals eight weeks after occupying Baghdad, yesterday confronted the damaging new allegations on the misuse of intelligence to bolster the case for war“, in all this, under Prime Minister Tony Blair Operation Telic gave rise to 182 fatalities in the UK armed services (2003-2011). Proof of the existence of WMD’s were never shown, there have been stories on both sides of the camp on WMD and in the end, it all remained speculation and conjecture from unreliable forces. The most fitting (possibly wrong) view became, the UK went to war on intentionally bad intelligence. From my personal view it should have been simple and clear. There would have been the mere need to show one clear functional missile filmed by the associated press stating something like: “Here is a Weapon of Mass Destruction, it was captured at [whichever location] by [whomever was there] under command of [some big bird in charge], now let’s talk to this commander on the find!“, it would have been the simple justification, that message never came and speculation and conjecture on a war that was started under the most weird of circumstances might have been justified, that moment never came.

So when the Guardian gives us ‘Rudd’s refusal to publish full report into extremist funding ‘unacceptable’‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/12/uk-terror-funding-report-will-not-be-published-for-national-security-reasons), you could see the issue that history is about to repeat itself. Now, for the most we see all kinds of valid arguments, yet in all this, the one element missing is still the element in the Pork Pie in the making.

The quote “But the home secretary, Amber Rudd, said the move was based on national security and claimed that the full report contained sensitive and detailed personal information” is actually the one that matters the least, the colourful honourable Rudd would be quite correct in setting certain premises on visibility and for that she is not getting into trouble. It is the top line setting, when we see “The statement gives absolutely no clue as to which countries foreign funding for extremism originates from – leaving the government open to further allegations of refusing to expose the role of Saudi Arabian money in terrorism in the UK.” is the most important one and it came from Caroline Lucas, which makes sense on several levels. As co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, she was hitting the nail on the head. Interesting how Tim Farron just did not have seemingly has a clue in this instance (regarding the news info I could find). You see, the entire Qatar situation is linked to all this. The UK will be partially depending on what Germany finds and more important, all the information they might be unable to find, or in the end will not report on. In this the entire Turkey escalations as it enters a place and theatre of War they basically have no place to be in, this all links and the clarity of the report as to the original of the funds has bearing on this. In light of “Some extremist Islamist organisations “portray themselves as charities to increase their credibility and to take advantage of Islam’s emphasis on charity”, and are vague about both their activities and their charitable status, it said“, there should be an increased need to give rise and visibility to the sources. When we see “Instead, there is a strong suspicion this report is being suppressed to protect this government’s trade and diplomatic priorities, including in relation to Saudi Arabia. The only way to allay those suspicions is to publish the report in full” there is a rising stress point on how to find a way to work with legitimate governments, so as such there is a clear need to see if there are false pears in the apple bag. The issue becomes larger with “For a small number of organisations with which there are extremism concerns, overseas funding is a significant source of income. However, for the vast majority of extremist groups in the UK, overseas funding is not a significant source.” This makes the statement an optional interpretation in more than one way (read: the intelligence community loves their ambiguity). In the end, it seems to imply that as extremist groups rely massively on ‘donations‘, there is either not enough data or there is clear evidence that the UK charities are merely a minimal contributor at best. Which is pretty much as good as it gets, to be a zero donator is pretty much a non-option and the fact that donations might not even get to a 4 figure number implies that one spare part of a rifle is the best any extremist group could hope for, in addition the UK groups don’t seem to be getting any interesting level of cash. Yet that does not give rise to the value that is set towards the creation of Lone Wolves in the UK, yet in that there is absolutely no clue whether the intelligence community has even close to a comprehension how those streams go, how the funding and recruitment goes and where to look for decent quality intelligence (or how to obtain it). As I have seen it (to the smallest degree), it seems to me that short term radical pamphlets to see who reacts is as good as it gets at one University in Sydney. This creates the situation that their luck would likely run out long before they become an actual threat. The nice thing about the island of Australia is that those wannabe’s really have no place to run to and it gives rise that an Island like the United Kingdom (significantly smaller in size) they could have less options. As the Straits Times is just now reporting that the Qatar crisis not resolved, we see that the centre stage is now for US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will now try to find new solutions in the events that are still escalating. Do you not think that the mention of sources could have been a little help in keeping the conversation going? The mention of clear Qatar involvement or absence of it would have made a large impact. In equal measure any evidence of the use of banks in Riyadh might have had another impact altogether, the need for Saudi Arabia to consider the overhaul of certain banking policies (something the US has been desperate for, for some time now), all elements that could diffuse certain pressures. So as we see “UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan told reporters during a visit to Slovakia that Tillerson’s visit was unlikely to resolve the row. “I think it will ease tensions, but it’s just postponing the problem, which will grow in the future.” In a joint statement issued after Tillerson and his Qatari counterpart signed their counter-terrorism pact on Tuesday, the four states called the accord inadequate.” We see no reason that there was anything wrong on the decision that the Honourable Amber Rudd has taken, yet the added information of sources could really impact on a few levels the issues to address or reinforce the term of ‘inadequate accord‘. With additional Turkish troops arriving in Doha, the pressure will go up, because a room full of powder kegs it merely takes one spark and the chance of that spark increases with every additional element in that equation. a threat that does not grow linear, but exponentially. So how does that support the need to keep certain facts hidden? Consider that one element in the summary gives rise to a relief of pressures, the question from Caroline Lucas could soon be the topic of debate in several places in London, and should the powder keg go boom, that debate could become toxic for several key government players soon thereafter.

Yet in all this Qatar is also sending different waves, as owners of Al-Jazeera, we now see (at http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/uae-slams-al-jazeera-for-anti-semitism-inciting-hate-1724062) that there are issues escalating that give rise to several issues to those opposing Qatar. The subtitle gives the one side with ‘The United Nations has warned that demands that Qatar close Al-Jazeera by a rival Saudi Arabian-led alliance, which includes the UAE, violate basic freedoms‘, yet in the article we see the statement by United Arab Emirates’ state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, when we see presented facts regarding spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi : “he added, had “praised Hitler, described the Holocaust as ‘divine punishment’, and called on Allah to ‘take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people… and kill them, down to the very last one’“, so when we see that, we see that this all is fuelling even more pressures and as the Muslim Brotherhood is seen as the extremist group it has shown to be in Egypt as well as an openly voicing enemy of the State of Israel, the evidence counter is moving against Qatar. It seems to me personally, that in this present state of affairs, to give rise to the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood, whilst there are plenty of other options (read: less radical ones), Al-Jazeera is either biting the hand that fed them from birth, or that the Qatari government should have had better reigns on those who are in charge of Al-Jazeera. It seems to be a mess that is currently not in favour of Qatar, no matter how you slice it (read: as shown by the western media). It also gives visibility to another part that another Guardian article gave us with “Noura al Kaabi, the UAE minister responsible for media regulation, told the Guardian the station had given a platform to “some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world” and needed to be subject to new and externally-monitored editorial controls“, a view pretty much all parties but one will agree with at present. The final part from the UAE minister is shown with: “Al-Kaabi questioned the value of the memorandum. “We have lost trust with the government of Qatar,” he said. “The difficulty is that it is one thing to sign an agreement, but the true test is whether it is ever enforced. An agreement is not an agreement if it is not honoured.”“, this shows that the work that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has cut out for himself is becoming increasingly more difficult soon enough; this reflects back to the overseas funding report, the inclusion of the foreign sources in the summary could give Rex Tillerson the indication that there is either a more intense problem within Qatar, or that there might merely be the issue with some aspects of Al-Jazeera. That difference is the difference between a possible short term resolution or the beginning of a long term consequence, that evidence (if regarded as such) could give rise the second part as Turkey would be forced to take a clear step in one way or another, which would limit the actions of Iran, all optional changes to the absence of one element in a partially classified report. In this I do hope that the Honourable Amber Rudd takes heed from the 2003-2011 partial fiasco that brought the loss of 182 fatalities, because if this powder keg does go, the list of casualties might become a lot higher and not just for the UK, which in turn will give rise to additional escalations in directions no one has any clue on how far that would go.

And remember, in this instance a point of view is merely a vantage point for those seeking an advantage, there is growing overwhelming bias on nearly all fronts, the question that many cannot answer is ‘Which one is based on ambiguity and which can be met with academic scrutiny?’ This is a question that I myself find unable to answer, merely because the original source has been edited out in more than two occasions.

 

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