Yemeni security officials say local forces backed by the United Arab Emirates are expanding their reach in the country’s south, where they have clashed with forces loyal to the internationally recognized president.
Earlier this month, the Intercept reported that Charles Kushner, the father of White House senior advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, had met with Qatari finance minister Ali Sharif al-Emadi in April 2017 about a possible investment by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund in the Kushner's troubled 666 Fifth Ave. property. The report included the stunning detail that, several months later, Kushner backed a decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to cut ties with Qatar, ostensibly over its support of terrorism (read: ties with Iran). That report is credited with helping encourage Special Counsel Robert Mueller to scrutinize the Kushner's business ties. Since then, media reports suggest that the foreign business ties of the Kushners and the Trumps have come under intense scrutiny. The elder Kushner must be worried about his son's culpability: He has decided to go on-record to clear up a few misconceptions in the initial report, telling the Washington Post that, while he did meet with Emadi, the meeting was arranged at the behest of the Qatars, who were responsible for the initial overture. But instead of entertaining their offer, Kushner told WaPo he turned them down, saying he couldn't accept money from foreign sovereign wealth funds. Jared Kushner’s father met with Qatar’s finance minister three months after President Trump’s inauguration, a New York City session at which funding for a financially troubled real estate project was discussed, the company acknowledged Sunday. However, Charles Kushner said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of a conflict of interest for his son, who had run the family company until he became Trump’s senior adviser. The elder Kushner said that the Qataris had asked for the meeting, and that he told them he couldn’t accept sovereign funds. "I was invited to a meeting," he said in a statement to The Washington Post. "Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments. We informed the Qatar representatives of our decision and they agreed. Even if they were there ready to wire the money, we would not have taken it." The company said Kushner had agreed to the meeting as a courtesy. The Kushners had initially told the media that they hadn't met with the Qataris to solicit funds for their project - a denial that left open the possibility that the meeting could've been arranged under different terms. The Kushners, who recently announced they would buy out their partner's stake in the property, have struggled to secure outside financing for 666 The admission is the latest sign that, contrary to the vague air of financial impropriety perpetuated by the US media, Donald Trump becoming president may have been one of the worst things to happen to the Kushner Cos. by cutting them off from potential sources of foreign financing. Last year, reports surfaced that the Kushners had been in talks with Anbang Insurance Group to secure financing for the redevelopment of 666 Fifth Avenue, forcing them to scrap the deal to bail out the skyscraper, which has been a persistent financial headache for the family since they bought it for nearly $2 billion in 2007. But the two companies ended their talks shortly after Bloomberg reported that Anbang's offer was "unusually favorable" to the Kushners. Less than a year later, Anbang was seized by a Chinese insurance regulator. And on Monday, the Washington Post reported that Kushner's father, Charles Kushner, met with Qatar's finance minister three months after President Trump's inauguration over securing funding for 666 Fifth Avenue - but turned down funding to avoid questions of a conflict of interest for Jared, who had run the company before leaving to take a job in the West Wing. Kushner told WaPo that the Qataris had pushed for the meeting, but he had told them that he couldn't accept sovereign funds. WaPo also revealed that the Kushners had been working on a deal to secure funding from a private Qatari investment fund run by Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the country's former prime minister. While Kushner said he broke off the meeting, other sources told WaPo that the Qataris broke it off. A tentative deal for $500 million fell through because Qatar sought to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after Jared Kushner was named senior White House adviser, according to Tom Barrack, a Trump friend who had suggested Hamad look at investing with the Kushners. Others have said that Hamad pulled out because his funding was contingent on separate financing with the Chinese insurance fund Anbang, which fell through. Barrack told The Post that Charles Kushner was "crushed" when the deal fell through. The Kushners refinances 666 Fifth Ave. after the housing crash, and are scrambling to secure funding to make a $1.2 billion payment due next year. The company has drawn up a costly redevelopment plan they say could dramatically boost the building's value - but they still lack the funding necessary to proceed.
Total (TOTF.PA) CEO Patrick Pouyanne said on Sunday that the French oil and gas company would seek a waiver to continue the development of an Iranian gas field should the United States decide to reimpose sanctions. Last July, Total became the first Western energy firm to sign a deal with Iran since the easing of international sanctions in 2015, agreeing to develop Phase 11 of the South Pars offshore gas field with a total investment of $5 billion (3.59 billion pounds). Speaking in an interview with The National newspaper while on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, Pouyanne said Total's plans should be allowed to proceed because its agreement with Iran was awarded at a time when sanctions were not in place.
Authored by Erico Matias Tavares via Sinclair & Co., Dr. Alyami is a native of Saudi Arabia and a citizen of the US for the past four decades. From an early age he has been advocating for political, economic and social reform in his native homeland. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, a Washington D.C. based non-profit tax exempt organization. Previously, he was a Senior Fellow at the Saudi Institute in Washington, D.C., Director of an educational peace program for the American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco and a Representative for the Arab Organization for Human Rights (a Cairo based group) in North America. Dr. Alyami has spoken at conferences throughout the US, Egypt, Sudan, Israel, France, Belgium, Spain and the UK, has offered expert testimony before Congress and has advised senior officials at the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the Department of State. E Tavares: Dr. Alyami, thank you for your being with us today. We have spoken on several occasions in the recent past and your views on what is currently unfolding in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (“KSA”) have proven to be extremely accurate. Its new leadership has announced a range of social liberalization measures, including letting women drive at long last and even creating a whole new area in Saudi Arabia outside of strict Islamic law to attract tourists. Given your efforts to liberalize your motherland, are you pleased with these developments? Ali Alyami (AA): Despite the fact that the embryonic social initiatives you listed are decades (and in some cases centuries) overdue, their psychological and practical impact on Saudi society cannot be underestimated. However, it’s important for your readers, business CEOs and politicians to keep in mind that the recent administrative rearrangements in Saudi Arabia were not designed to alter the absolute monarchical system or to abandon the Saudi’s zealot brand of Islam, Wahhabism (as has been misleadingly reported), but rather to ensure the royal family’s continued iron-fisted rule, a cherished life-long commitment held by King Salman. Thus, he chose his most trusted novice son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (“MbS”) to implement his wish. By arresting and detaining a handful of corrupt royals and prominent commoners, MbS gave many Saudis a flicker of hope for better things to follow. For the first time in their history, some Saudis felt that the state's draconian policies and practices are being applied to a selected number of the ruling elites who have been spared the severe social injustices, political repression and economic hardships inflicted on the subjugated population. If MbS continues to apply the state’s rules to all segments of society, including all members of the parasitical royal family, he will go down in history books as a liberator. While many Saudis and others have welcomed MbS’s initiatives, they expressed a great deal of cynicism about his real motives for arresting a handful of powerful and influential princes, businessmen and officials. Many people feel that MbS and his father are more concerned about securing MbS’ future than they are about eradicating corruption, especially where it’s most rampant, within the ruling family. Additionally, many Saudis and others feel that allowing women to drive and introducing entertainment are designed to divert public’s attention from their current severe economic privations, increased repression and lack of citizenry enfranchisement. ET: Those detentions, reversed under duress and after payments were made in many cases, sounded almost like a purge. Is this an accurate description? AA: It is a purge. Elevating 32-year-old MbS from obscurity to the status of a de facto absolute ruler alienated a large number of powerful princes, many of whom are older, more experienced, educated, influential, popular and pragmatic than MbS. They pose potential political threats to MbS, thus King Salman wanted to discredit them and make sure they are out of the way, especially when he no longer can protect his son. ET: Crown Prince Mohammed is visiting the US this month (March 2018) and on the agenda is convincing American investors and technological developers to buy into his economic reform program for the KSA, Vision 2030. What are your thoughts on this? AA: MbS’s ambitious economic reform plan, Vision 2030, would require about $4 trillion investment in eight sectors: mining and metals, petrochemicals, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, tourism and hospitality, healthcare, finance, and construction. He and his hordes of expensive consultants underestimated Saudi Arabia’s lack of credibility, tarnished image and heightened reservations among potential investors in the US and in Europe, regarding the country’s instability and its unpredictable future under his management. They miscalculated investors’ lack of trust in the Saudi government, its rampant corruption, lack of accountability and transparency, as well as severe social taboos, religious extremism and lack of a well-trained workforce and work ethics. These are some of the reasons that contribute to a noticeable lack of global investors’ interest to take risk in investing in MbS’ economic reform since it was announced in December 2015. MbS is touring Europe and the US in March in the hope of convincing investors to finance his economic project upon which his future hangs. It’s interesting that President Trump fired Secretary of State Tillerson on the eve of MbS’s visit. Saudis and Emirates never liked Tillerson because he stood up to them, especially when they tried to invade and take over Qatar. In fact, they are not only celebrating his dismissal, but bragging about their role in having him fired. ET: But if the Saudis fail to attract any investment, surely this can’t be a financial problem for them? Even with low oil prices the Crown Prince was able to pay $450 million, a record in the art world, for a da Vinci painting of Christ. AA: As mentioned above, investors are leery of rampant corruption at the top. MbS has acquired a chateau in France for $300 million, a yacht for $500 million and the painting you mentioned for $450 million since he started his economic reform plan. This is happening while the disenfranchised population is being burdened with new taxes, elimination of subsidized social programs, and price increases in water, electricity and other public services. In addition, an estimated 40 to 50% of the Saudi youth, especially women, are unemployed. This is a ticking bomb. ET: Let’s focus on regional tensions. What do you make of the very visible spat with Qatar? Was that really about support for terrorism? AA: Due to historical tribal wounds, the rulers of Saudi Arabia and of the scattered desert villages of which the current United Arab Emirate, UAE, consists have had designs on Qatar long before its independence from Great Britain in 1971. They had hoped to make Qatar a region of the UAE after its independence. However, after 1971, the Emir of Qatar under the British mandate was overthrown by his son who initiated progressive social, political, economic and educational projects and established independent regional and global relations with some countries and groups, some of whom, like Iran and the powerful pan-Arab political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis consider formidable competitors for Sunni Muslim leadership. This spat is hardly about support for terrorism as stated by Senator Corker, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said that “The amount of support for terrorism by Saudi Arabia dwarfs what Qatar is doing.” ET: There is a brutal war going on in Yemen and it’s the civilian population of that country who is paying the heaviest price. What are the Saudi’s objectives there? And why has the media been so silent on those atrocities? AA: The carnage in Yemen has been described by the UN and other human rights groups as genocide, among other painful labels. The Saudis have long considered Yemen their backyard and have indirectly controlled it by bribing Yemeni tribal chiefs, politicians and businessmen to do their bidding. That has worked for many decades until the Arab people’s mass uprising in 2011 which brought down former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Saudis mediated a transition after Saleh’s misfortune and helped install a pro Saudi President, Abed Rabu Hadi, who was not accepted by many Yemenis, especially the Zadiz (the Houthi) minority. In September 2014, the Houthis moved north and captured the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. Hadi escaped to Saudi Arabia, where he is residing now. One of the Saudis’ main objectives in Yemen is to control the strategic Aden region for economic and political reasons. Aden controls the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb, through which most of the Persian Gulf oil is shipped to international markets, especially to Europe and Asia. There is also oil in Southern Yemen. Controlling the shipping oil routes and Yemeni oil would give the Saudis strategic influence, regionally and globally. This is the reason the Saudis and the UAE are establishing Aden as the new capital of Yemen. This is also the region from which the exiled Yemeni president Hadi came. The reason the media hardly mentions the carnage in Yemen is because it’s not a profitable business and there is no politically active Yemeni community in the US, despite the fact that there are a large number of Yemenis, most of whom work on farms, and in services and small businesses, like grocery and liquor stores. ET: Iran’s influence is growing steadily across the Middle East, taking advantage of many foreign policy blunders in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other countries across the region. In response, the Saudis seem to be aligning closer to Iran’s #1 foe, the Israelis, which would be very contentious in the Arab world. Is this a sign of desperation or “realpolitik”? AA: A sign of both. The Saudis are no match for the 80 million technologically more advanced Persians. The Saudis reached out to the Israelis because they realized that Western societies are becoming increasingly critical of their governments’ and businesses’ support for the Saudi regime, which many people and media in the West, especially in Europe, consider a major violator of basic human rights, an oppressor of women and religious minorities, intolerant of non-Muslims and incubators of Muslim extremism which inspires terror groups like Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, Jama’a Islamiyah, Boko Haram and Abu Sayyaf, among others. Furthermore, the powerful Iranian theocracy has repeatedly said it will wipe the Israelis from the surface of the earth. The Saudis see an opportunity to work with the Israelis to destroy Iran’s military capabilities. However, the Israelis do not seem to be in a hurry to make the anti-Jewish Saudis the dominant power in Middle East, especially when the Saudi regime has not even recognized Israel as a legitimate sovereign state. ET: The previous US administration seemed extremely keen to get a nuclear deal done with Iran, sending money in pallets to the Mullahs there and even supposedly turning a blind eye to Iran-linked terrorists who were smuggling drugs into the US. The official line was to stop Iran from getting the bomb - while at the same time very little to nothing was done as Iran’s North Korean allies were close to getting it. Why do you believe the Obama administration was so vested in doing a deal with Iran? How did the Saudis perceive all this? AA: It’s difficult to sort out President Obama’s motives, but people close to some high-ranking officials in his administration believe Obama felt the US policy toward the Middle East has been dominated by the Saudis for a long time, especially regarding US relations with Iran. According to these sources, Obama and John Kerry felt they did not have to cater to the Saudis’ wishes before dealing with governments group in Arab and Muslim regions. Thus, Obama decided to take direct charge of the US policy toward the region and do what he felt was in the best interests of the US. While the Iranian theocrats have not promised to wipe the Saudis off the surface of the earth as they have said about Israel, the Saudis consider the Iranian regime a dangerous and fierce regional competitor. Thus, they reached out to the Israelis after giving up on the US “to cut the head of the snake” in the hope the Israelis would destroy Iran’s economic and military infrastructures. This may still happen if the Iranian Mullahs continue to develop their nuclear program, which they have said they would use to destroy Israel. ET: Given your lifelong efforts to bring democracy and freedom to the KSA, are you frustrated that so many Western countries - that should ideologically be in your camp - give the Saudis so many free passes on human rights issues, including the US under President Trump? AA: I am more mystified than frustrated as to why Western democracies continue to unconditionally support and protect a regime and a system that promote destruction of democracy and its empowering values, such as freedom of expression, freedom of choice, equality for women, respect for human rights and the rule of law. As has been abundantly documented, lucrative economic gains are the primary motives for the US and other Western governments’, businesses’ and educational institutions’ support for the Saudi and other anti-democratic wealthy Arab dynasties, as recently exemplified by President Trump’s decision to make Saudi Arabia his first choice to visit four months after he was elected President. Continuing to support the absolute Saudi monarchy at a time when an aspiring generation of Arab women and men are paying the ultimate price to be free from political and religious oppression, poverty and lack of economic opportunities is not only immoral, but could potentially result in turning the West into police states, especially if Wahhabi-doctrine- inspired Muslim terror groups and their financiers continue to massacre Western and others’ innocent citizens. Saudi Arabia is considered the epicenter of extremism and terrorism by Muslims and non-Muslims, including increasing number of Saudis, especially women. On that note, looking at Western societies more broadly it would be very positive if Women’s Marches could be organized during MbS’s visit to the US demanding that their Saudi counterparts enjoy similar rights, which should be universal in the 21st century. But unfortunately this does not seem to be a priority for the feminist movement. The consequences of sacrificing the values of Western Civilization, the greatest and most successful in human history, for profits can damage the institutions that made America, specifically, the envy of the world populations. ET: Some commentators have compared the current situation in the KSA to Syria pre civil war, in that there is an authoritarian regime trying to rigidly impose power on a largely young, disgruntled and at times disenfranchised population. The risk of a sudden discontinuity event occurring is quite high as a result. Do you agree with this analysis? AA: To circumvent the potential occurrence of the scenario you correctly stated, the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, was established fourteen years ago to promote peaceful democratic reforms to enfranchise the Saudi people to participate in the decision-making processes and inspire them to shoulder some of the state’s daunting economic, social and political responsibilities. As you alluded, the ingredients for violent upheaval in Saudi Arabia are not an illusion, farfetched or reformers’ conspiracy to overthrow the Saud monarchy. About 70% of the Saudi population is under the age of 30. Unlike their traditional forefathers, they are the social media and smartphone generation. Most of them are unemployed, thus, they spend most of their time on modern technology devices rather than reciting the Quran, going to mosques or reading nomadic poetry. They compare themselves with their female and male counterparts regionally and globally and are discovering that they are among the most disenfranchised and oppressed people in the world. They are becoming increasingly resentful of their culture, lifestyle, idleness and more so, of the Saudi ruling family and its anti-basic human rights and -social justice religious establishment. The idle Saudi youth, male and female, are a ticking bomb. ET: So is the KSA on the brink? What could unfold from here? AA: Domestically, Saudi Arabia is facing precarious domestic economic and political predicaments. This is mostly due to a lack of modern management, utter lack of public participation in the decision-making processes, marginalization of women, lack of investment in human development and in modern education, and to the systematic siphoning of the state’s vast oil revenues (rampant corruption) by an incredibly backward-thinking constellation of princes who consider the country their private property by birthright. This practice was and still is the foundation upon which the state was established nine decades ago. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. To save the state from collapsing, prudent and effective measures have to be taken to rectify the damage the country has endured since its inception. Instead of establishing collective, balanced, experienced, lucid and well-informed and trained leadership to veer the country away from its current domestic instability and external threats, a 32-year-old novice prince was designated de facto ruler, primarily because he is the king’s favorite and most trusted son, to insure the perpetual rule of the Saudi ruling family. The question is: can the inexperienced saber-brandishing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman handle the daunting responsibilities bestowed on him by his father, not by the more balanced traditional succession process? While predicting the fate of the state and the prince’s success or failure remains unclear, however, thus far MbS seems to be focusing on becoming an absolute ruthless dictator, the only form of governance the population has endured for decades. Despite being an absolute dictator, MbS might succeed in moving the country forward if he embarks on genuine inclusive political, economic, social, religious, educational and administrative reforms. So far, there is no sign of any political inclusion that is needed to give people hopes and incentives to support him and his ambitious economic reform plan, Vision 2030. Enfranchising the young Saudi population, most of which is the same age or younger than MbS, will increase his chances not only to succeed, but to save himself from a large number of marginalized princes, their business partners and the mildly muzzled zealot clerics who have had a free hand to terrorize the population since the formation of the Saudi/Wahhabi alliance almost three centuries ago. Externally, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed piloted a dangerous and costly foreign policy, which none of their predecessors has done. They formed and led a military coalition that invaded Yemen two years ago, ostensibly to ensure that the Iranians do not expand their influence to the Saudi borders. Regardless of the Saudis’ motives, Yemeni infrastructure is being pulverized, millions of Yemenis have been displaced, starved and killed without anything to show for the devastation of the Saudis’ neighbors, 26 million poverty-stricken Yemenis. As has been documented, the only beneficiaries of the devastating war are Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Iran. Al-Qaeda has conquered large areas of prime and strategic lands in Southern Yemen, the Bin Laden family’s motherland. It’s also reported that thousands of Yemeni women, men and children are volunteering to join Al-Qaeda. MbS, in collaboration with his mentor the vice president of the UAE, hired the same coalition they mobilized to invade Yemen to blockade Qatar, a GCC member state, staunch US ally and possessor of the largest gas reservoirs in the world. The Saudis are still occupying Bahrain and threatening to fight Iran directly instead of through proxies. This is a suicidal path to contemplate. Based on what King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed have done and continue to do since they inherited the crown in 2015, it is safe to assume that the worst for MbS and the country is shaping up. ET: Switching gears closer to home, it was recently reported that a court ruled New York City will have to pay three Muslim women a total of $180,000 as compensation for being forced to remove their head cloth for a police mugshot. One of them had been detained because of a physical assault charge, a possible crime, and yet this was the outcome. Are you concerned that the repressive principles you have fought against for so long in your home country are now being enforced by courts in the US? Where will this lead? AA: I am totally opposed to man-made and -imposed women’s covering in this country or anywhere in the world. I am puzzled by Muslim women who escape to this country and other Western societies to seek emancipation from their oppression and marginalization in their homelands, imposed especially by the men and cultures that coerced them to be camouflaged in stifling black garments, to cling to the same signs of oppression here. This country’s tolerant population consists of different ethnic, religious and cultural groups. If we give every group special treatment, the system will break, and the results could be catastrophic. Of all Americans, Muslims, especially women, should be leading the way in the fight against the reasons that drove them out of their homelands, the Shariah law and its well-known misogynistic content. Even the extremist Saudis are saying that women’s coverings are not Islamic. One should ask, if that’s the case, then why are women in Saudi Arabia still forced to hide themselves behind layers of suffocating black cloth in a 120-degree environment? Obviously, God has nothing to do with it, but man does. ET: How can people who are concerned with these issues and want to see the adoption of human rights – especially women’s rights – in the KSA and beyond help your organization? AA: The Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, is an American 501 (C) 3 tax exempt educational organization focusing on Saudi Arabia, a longtime ally of the US. I am originally from Saudi Arabia, but am now a citizen of the US, the greatest nation on earth. I have civil and moral obligations to highlight the plight of the oppressed people of my motherland and to defend our liberties from the enemies of democracy and freedom of choices. As has been abundantly documented by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Saudi Arabia is described as the Fountain of Extremism and Terrorism and is the largest exporter and funder of extremism throughout the world. Concerned Americans of all political, ethnic, religious, race, gender and cultural background have a huge stake in protecting our liberties from internal and external enemies, as enshrined in our second-to-none Constitution and Bill of Rights. This is what CDHR was established to promote. People can help by making tax-deductible donations, by inviting us to speak the truth to power, by organizing in their communities and working with people who know and have the vision to put the interests of this land of freedom before personal gain, fame and safety. People can also send donations via PayPal, the details of which are available on our website www.cdhr.info. Freedom is fragile and not free. ET: Thank you for being with us today. Great as always to get your views on all this. All the best AA: Thank you for your efforts to alert your readers and society in general to the Islamists’ ideological threats to our liberties and way of life.
We're beginning to notice a pattern here... For the second time in the span of a week, the New York Times is once again rebutting reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging probe into malfeasance by President Trump and his associates is finally winding down. This time, a report from Politico published earlier today claimed that Trump's lawyers were nearing an agreement on a sit-down with Mueller... But barely six hours later, NYT reported that Mueller has subpoenaed records from the Trump Organization pertaining to Russia. The request is clearly intended to gather more information about Trump Tower Moscow, which has reportedly become a focus of the Mueller probe. As the Times explains that "The subpoena is the latest indication that the investigation, which Mr. Trump’s lawyers once regularly assured him would be completed by now, will drag on for at least several more months." As a reminder, the Moscow deal initially caught Mueller's attention when he learned that Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen had reached out to a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin to inquire about getting the necessary permissions to restart the project, which had stalled. The Trump Organization has said that it never had real estate holdings in Russia, but witnesses recently interviewed by Mr. Mueller have been asked about a possible real estate deal in Moscow. In 2015, a longtime business associate of Mr. Trump’s emailed Mr. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen at his Trump Organization account claiming he had ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and said that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would help Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. Mr. Trump signed a nonbinding “letter of intent” for the project in 2015 and discussed it three times with Mr. Cohen. Wary of the risks that his tax return might become part of the investigation, Trump publicly warned Mueller during an interview in July that his family's finances should be off limits to the Mueller probe. ...However, it appears that ship has sailed. Mr. Mueller could run afoul of a red line the president has warned him not to cross. Though it is not clear how much of the subpoena is related to Mr. Trump’s business beyond ties to Russia, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The New York Times in July that the special counsel would be crossing a “red line” if he looked into his family’s finances beyond any relationship with Russia. The president declined to say how he would respond if he concluded that the special counsel had crossed that line. While Congressional investigators have demanded documents from the Trump Organization, this is the first time Mueller has done so. The request suggests that Mueller is once again zeroing in on Trump's finances, and the finances of his associates (and you know what that means)... The Times added that Trump's lawyers are still negotiating with Mueller's team about the parameters of a possible sit-down (or written) interview. Trump recently brought on another Washington lawyer to join the team of lawyers who are handling the Mueller probe. As far as we know, Mueller's probe isn't focusing on collusion so much as it's focusing on Trump's and his family's (i.e. Kushner's) business ties with Russia and other foreign powers like the United Arab Emirates. Obstruction of justice has also been bandied about, but given that former FBI Director James Comey has already declared during a Congressional hearing that the president didn't obstruct justice, it might be difficult to convince a jury otherwise. And the notion that the Trump campaign was in direct contact with Putin - and furthermore that their partnership (which didn't exist) had a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election - has also been discounted... ...That leaves Trump's incredibly complex and murky financial history. Financial misdeeds proved to be Paul Manafort's undoing - but then again, he had already been on the FBI's radar before he even met Trump. Stocks erased most of their earlier gains on the news...
Funerals have been held for nine of the 11 women killed when a private Turkish jet crashed in Iran while flying a bride-to-be and her friends back to Istanbul from a bachelorette party in the United Arab Emirates.
MPs in Somalia have voted to declare a contract with the United Arab Emirates null and void – endangering plans to develop a port in the Horn of Africa. Dubai-based shipping giant DP World wants to enlarge the port of Berberra in the breakaway state of Somaliland. Somalia's parliament has voted to ban the Emiratis. But representatives of Somalia's six federal states in the Senate can’t agree on what to do next. Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow reports from Mogadishu. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates next week as part of efforts to deepen bilateral ties, Moon's office said on Thursday.
Authored by Charles Benavidez via SafeHaven.com, The UK-based Tax Justice Network’s new Financial Secrecy Index estimates that the ultra-wealthy are hiding up to $32 trillion in tax havens around the world, and while Switzerland gets the top spot on the new list, the U.S. is a not-so-distant second. Not even major global scandals such as the Panama and Paradise papers have been able to slow the rise of the bigger and better tax havens, as global industry growth has billion-dollar asset owners looking for the ultimate haven to stow away gains. These are the top 10 tax havens in 2018, according to FSI: #1 Switzerland (Click to enlarge) Switzerland, a global leader in asset management cornering 28 percent of the market share, is holding an estimated $6.5 trillion, more than half of which comes from abroad. The attraction is a low tax base coupled with a top-notch banking system. Switzerland is the ‘grandfather’ of global tax havens, and the world leader in cross-border asset management. As FSI notes: “…the Swiss will exchange information with rich countries if they have to, but will continue offering citizens of poorer countries the opportunity to evade their taxpaying responsibilities.” And it’s more secretive than the No 2 tax haven… #2 The Unites States of America (Click to enlarge) The U.S. is on a tear on the competition for the top tax haven spot, rising for the third time in five years, and now capturing the number two slot. In 2015, the U.S. was in third place, and in 2013, it was in sixth. Between 2015 and 2018, U.S. market share of global offshore financial services rose 14 percent, from 19.6 percent to 22.3 percent. Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming are the most aggressive tax havens, often described as ‘captured states’. When it comes specifically to offshore financial services, then, the U.S. now has the largest market share, rivalled only by the City of London, according to FSI, which notes that foreign country elites use the U.S. “as a bolt-hole for looted wealth”. The baggage is piling up. Take the Delaware tax haven, for instance. It’s housing a company in “good standing” that is used for trafficking children for sex but can’t be shut down because it doesn’t have a physical presence in the state, according to Quartz. #3 Cayman Islands Third place go to this overseas territory of the United Kingdom, holding $1.4 trillion in assets managed through 200 banks. With more than 95,000 companies registered, this country is the world leader in terms of hosting investment funds. Related: What Does A Strong Euro Mean For Gold Prices? It’s a lot more “upmarket” today than it used to be in its heyday as a hotspot for drug smuggling and money-laundering. Now it deals with some of the world’s biggest banks, corporations and hedge funds. On the FSI secrecy index, it ranks a 71, right between Switzerland and the U.S. #4 Hong Kong While one of the newer tax haven’s—it’s already hit fourth place and is managing some $2.1 trillion in assets (as of the close of 2015), along with $470 billion in private banking assets. It helps that it’s home to the third-largest stock exchange in Asia. And when it comes to ultra-high-net-worth individuals, Hong Kong leads the pack, with 15.3 per 100,000 households. The attraction is that companies incorporated in Hong Kong pay tax only on profits sourced in Hong Kong and the tax rate is currently at 16.5 percent. So in all likelihood, they’re paying zero taxes. In terms of secrecy, it ranks 71 alongside Cayman. #5 Singapore This country is the favorite offshore center servicing Southeast Asia (as opposed to Hong Kong, which caters to China and North Asia). As of the end of 2015, Singapore was estimated to be holding $1.8 trillion in assets under management, 80 percent of which originated outside of the country. It has a secrecy ranking of 67. #6 Luxembourg This is a tiny state in the European Union that packs a massive tax haven punch. Despite its size, it is said to control 12 percent of the global market share for offshore financial services. The FSI estimates that its 143 banks are managing assets of around $800 billion. Luxembourg has a secrecy ranking of 58. #7 Germany Major tax loopholes and lax enforcement have bumped Germany to number seven on the FSI’s list, despite being one of the world’s biggest economies and not intentionally focusing on global financial services. It corners about 5 percent of market share in the sector, and ranks 59 in terms of secrecy. #8 Taiwan This is the first year Taiwan has made the Top 10 list, bumping off Lebanon, which now sits in 8th place. Beijing’s “One China” policy is largely responsible for Taiwan’s ascendancy on the tax haven scene because it managed to fly under everyone’s radar, not participating in International Monetary Fund (IMF) statistics thanks to Chinese pressure. And no one’s entirely sure how much offshore money is flowing through here. #9 United Arab Emirate of Dubai Dubai, servicing massive regional oil wealth, gets the highest secrecy rating of them all, at 84. Its offshore facilities are exceedingly complex and offers a low-tax environment and lax enforcement. It’s also recently been the target of an EU tax haven blacklist. #10 Guernsey This small tax haven jurisdiction in the English Channel has risen seven places on the list since 2015, and accounts for 0.5 percent of the global trade in offshore financial services. Essentially, this is nothing more than a ‘captured state’ with a high secrecy rating of 72.
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