On the 5th of June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Egypt, and Bahrain suddenly “cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar …accusing it of supporting terrorism, meddling in their internal affairs and advancing the agenda of regional foe Iran.”
Qatar vehemently denies the allegations and has been working with both US and UK security services in the wake of a Russian hacking and disinformation offensive.
According to extensive reporting “The following day, Trump stunned lawmakers on both sides of the aisle by unexpectedly joining in on the Qatar-bashing.”
“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!” Trump tweeted, following up with: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!””
“According to Andrey Illarionov, Russian economist and former economic policy advisor to the Russian President, Putin has been aiming to target Qatar and brand them as terrorists since 2015. The Kremlin wished to target “military, infrastructure and energy sites in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.” At the time, the FSB announced it was offering a 50 million US dollar reward to anyone who could provide evidence about links to terrorism in the country, in order to justify an intervention.”
Donald Trump repeatedly accused Qatar of being complicit in sponsoring terrorism, a move which escalated a divisive war of words with what the Guardian have described as “one America’s most important military partners in the Middle East.”
During the initial stages of the Qatar crisis, US investigators confirmed to CNN that “Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies.”
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told CNN: “Whatever has been thrown as an accusation is all based on misinformation and we think that the entire crisis being based on misinformation…Because it was started based on fabricated news, being wedged and being inserted in our national news agency which was hacked.”
According to Guardian reports at the time: “It is believed that the Russian government was not involved in the hacks; instead, freelance hackers were paid to undertake the work on behalf of some other state or individual. Some observers have claimed privately that Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates may have commissioned the hackers.”
New documents filed with the US Government reveal the direct involvement of Trump donor Robert Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica group of companies in the ongoing Qatar Crisis, working for the UAE.
Cambridge Analytica, registered in London, is currently under investigation by the UK Electoral Commission and Information Commissioner’s Office alongside Nigel Farage and Arron Banks’s Leave.EU, and by the US Trump-Russia inquiries in the US.
SCL Social Limited, part of the SCL Group, lists Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix as a director.
On the 10th of October 2017, the firm registered with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as having been employed by the National Media Council of UAE as the principal digital strategist in a global social media campaign. They added their UK company registration certificate.
Among the documents filed was a comprehensive listing of social media posts, focused on the message Boycott Qatar and quoting Trump’s assertion.
Also within the posts, Cambridge Analytica pushed stories relating to North Korea, a known Russian disinformation narrative, in part being used to mask Russian hacking operations and which has almost provoked a nuclear war at the hands of Trump.
The registration documents go on to confirm a non-contractual agreement between the parties with a budget of $330,000 with a campaign set to run between September the 19th and 22nd to coincide with the regular session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
They provide a breakdown of advertising purchases on social media totalling just under $70,000, with the bulk being spent on Twitter.
According to further documents, the campaign was specifically aimed at NGOs, Diplomats, and “certain reporters”. They highlight that members US officials and the general public may also have been exposed to the messaging.
The registration also reveals the details of the intermediary, London based Project Associates. Within this, a specific budget of $250,000 is highlighted as having been allocated to combating extremism between August and September. This stated objective is not supported by the evidence provided in the social media posts, which are clearly not relaying a positive message.
Qatar’s officials have consistently claimed the blockade has actually impeded the fight against ISIS, and Trump’s support for the UAE has set him at odds with his own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. The move by Trump has caused a number of concerns at a military level, as Qatar host US troops in a strategically important location within the region.
It is apparent the deliberate lack of contractual paper trail further obfuscates specific details of the project and its terms and running dates.
Interestingly, as well as Cambridge Analytica’s own extensive links to the live Russia inquiry, Project Associates claim to operate successfully on global campaigns for the federation.
The crisis saw Russia taking the side of Qatar in a move designed to exert pressure on European gas supplies using its long term allies Iran and Turkey to assist.
Kremlin-managed propaganda network RT was swift to provide context at the time, writing: “This may help Russia on the European gas market. Qatar’s tanker fleet is barred from using regional ports and anchorages, posing a threat to the country’s LNG supplies. Traders are worried Saudi Arabia and allies would refuse to accept LNG shipments from Qatar, and that Egypt might even bar tankers carrying Qatari cargo from using the Suez Canal, despite Cairo’s obligation under an international agreement to allow the use of the waterway. If LNG supplies are disrupted, Europe will have to buy more gas from Russia.”
Qatar had not long completed a purchase of significant shares in Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned fossil fuel company. Rosneft is a client of Trump cyber-security lead Rudy Giuliani’s law and consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, which is also tied to close Putin allies at Alfa Bank. Investigative journalist Grant Stern has written about the Rosneft deal, saying: “Circumstantial evidence strongly indicates that President Donald J. Trump and his campaign associates brokered a massive oil privatization deal, where his organisation facilitated a global financial transaction to sell Russian Oil stock to its Syrian War adversary, the Emirate of Qatar.” The Emirate of Qatar was another Giuliani client.
Trump hosted a Qatari state-run business owned by the QIA, the buyer of Rosneft shares in the deal, in the Manhattan Trump Tower for many years. Carter Page, who acted as a gopher in the transaction, was working directly for Trump at the time. Having flatly denied meeting any Russian officials in 2016, Page later contradicted himself as it emerged he met Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador, during the Republican National Convention. Kislyak is both a spy and recruiter for Russian intelligence, according to intelligence officials.
According to Andrey Illarionov, Russian economist and former economic policy advisor to the Russian President, Putin has been aiming to target Qatar and brand them as terrorists since 2015. The Kremlin wished to target “military, infrastructure and energy sites in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.” At the time, the FSB announced it was offering a 50 million US dollar reward to anyone who could provide evidence about links to terrorism in the country, in order to justify an intervention.
Illarionov specifically highlighted the pressure such a move would place on NATO allies by increasing oil prices.
Background Material – Taken From Alternative War, Published August 2017.
“The distinctly shadowy advisor to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and equally controversial Trump-appointed Attorney General, Sessions, had already known Farage for several years. In 2012, Bannon invited the UK politician to New York and Washington where he was introduced to Sessions. This was two years before Breitbart launched in London. Sessions himself was, at the time I was doing this snooping, embroiled in a fresh ethics row after President Trump’s firing of the FBI Director James Comey, right in the middle of the Russia inquiry. Extraordinarily, the Attorney General had to remove himself from the investigation after undisclosed meetings between him and Russian officials were made public. Those very same officials were photographed inside the White House shortly afterwards and Sessions’ name went on to become synonymous with the other subjects of the unprecedented collusion allegations, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and Roger Stone. But there, right in the middle of all this, was a British politician I’d linked to the far-right and Russia already.
Visiting the Republican National Committee in mid-2016, Farage met a Bryant aide, John Barley Boykin, who suggested Farage visit Mississippi. The following day a formal invite from Bryant was sent to Farage. On the 23rd of August 2016, Farage arrived in Mississippi with Leave.EU’s financial backer Arron Banks. According to reports, it was actually Bryant who asked Farage to speak at the Trump rally and it was Steve Bannon who telephoned Farage to discuss what he would say. When Farage and Trump subsequently met the next day, Donald Trump was so impressed with the speech he wanted to personally introduce Farage to the stage. Sessions was present at the rally along with another Russia Inquiry figure, former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. Russian oil company Rosneft is a client of Rudy Giuliani’s law and consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, and Alfa Bank has previously hired Rudy Giuliani as a paid speaker. Investigative journalist Grant Stern has written: “Circumstantial evidence strongly indicates that President Donald J. Trump and his campaign associates brokered a massive oil privatization deal, where his organisation facilitated a global financial transaction to sell Russian Oil stock to its Syrian War adversary, the Emirate of Qatar.” The Emirate of Qatar was another Giuliani client.” – Chapter 15.
“Trump also stated, after seeing Lavrov, he was “pleased with the meeting” and, according to an official White House Press Service statement, the president impressed the need for Russia to “rein in” Assad. “He also raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere,” the statement added. Trump went on to visit the Middle East, where he pretty much declared war on the Islamic State and then, bizarrely, sided against Qatar in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, despite having almost ten thousand troops stationed in the allied country. The dispute swiftly extended to border crossings and began to disrupt Qatar’s gas exports – the country purchased a large stake in Russia’s Rosneft in December 2016 in a deal worth billions. As a result of the Saudi crisis, however, Qatar became diplomatically closer to Russian allies Iran and Turkey.
RT’s propaganda network was quick to leap into a commentary on the new Gulf crisis, explaining the advantages of the situation: “This may help Russia on the European gas market. Qatar’s tanker fleet is barred from using regional ports and anchorages, posing a threat to the country’s LNG supplies. Traders are worried Saudi Arabia and allies would refuse to accept LNG shipments from Qatar, and that Egypt might even bar tankers carrying Qatari cargo from using the Suez Canal, despite Cairo’s obligation under an international agreement to allow the use of the waterway. If LNG supplies are disrupted, Europe will have to buy more gas from Russia.”
“Gazprom is building new pipelines in Europe – Nord Stream-2 and Turkish Stream, but the Russian energy major is facing opposition on the continent,” the Kremlin-managed channel added.
This clearly makes sense from a Russian position, because it brings a range of benefits and leverage. However, Trump’s angle took me a little while longer to get my head around – until I revisited Carter Page. Christopher Steele’s Trump-Russia Dossier describes the huge Rosneft Oil company sale to Qatar but adds a second party, a secret buyer in the Cayman Islands. Investigation work in the US has uncovered that Trump hosted a Qatari state-run business owned by the QIA, the buyer of Rosneft shares in the deal, in the Manhattan Trump Tower for many years. Carter Page, who acted as a gopher in the transaction, was working directly for Trump at the time. Having flatly denied meeting any Russian officials in 2016, Page later contradicted himself as it emerged he met Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador, during the Republican National Convention. Though Russia always denies the claims, Kislyak is described as a spy and a recruiter of spies by top intelligence officials.” – Chapter 17.
“It’s a point of fact Trump’s own foreign policy was highly sympathetic to the Russian Federation and figures involved in shaping his policy had those direct links to Moscow, as I’d established. According to the report, Moscow also saw the election of Trump as a way to achieve an international counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has come to pass – though this has brought its own questions, not least relating to Qatar, and including a number of serious concerns my own discoveries had raised.” – Chapter 17.
“As if there wasn’t enough evidence already, looking at this through the CIA microscope it’s clear something was out of balance in respect of Russia’s true intentions and, subsequently, the Trump narrative. A point which is driven home by the actions of the former USSR in the Aleppo offensive. The benefit to Russia, in terms of a conflict which increases volumes of migration to Europe and fuels the divisive narratives of the far-right parties it supports, is genuinely obvious: destabilisation by assets which are both detached and deniable simultaneously. Meanwhile, because this action exacerbates the problem, terrorism continued unrelentingly and a further attack in the UK – an atrocity at a music concert in Manchester on the 22nd of May 2017 – came during Trump’s visit to the Middle East.
Speaking in Riyadh before the bombing, Trump said: “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilisations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”
During his visit, he claimed to have signed the largest arms deal in US history and the Qatar crisis began shortly afterwards. Additionally, those previous patterns I had identified across Europe and the US, pro-Kremlin commentators and media channels were among the first to attribute the Manchester attack to Islamic terror, hours before the police had even established details of the events.” – Chapter 17.
“The Eurasian Empire, which went on to be a centrepiece for Putin, would be constructed, Dugin said: “On the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us.” It all sounded so familiar when I first heard it, the targeting of NATO and this Moscow-centric axis of control, and military operations play only a relatively small role because the ideology of the text is centred on a “sophisticated program of subversion, destabilization, and disinformation spearheaded by the Russian special services.” There was everything, the media outlets like RT and Sputnik, the additional disinformation of the alt-right, APT28 and APT29, Wikileaks, the far-right political parties. All of it. The operations, the book set out, should be “assisted by a tough, hard-headed utilisation of Russia’s gas, oil, and natural resources to bully and pressure other countries.” And there was Rosneft, Qatar, Gazprom, Nord-Stream. It’s not a pleasant thing to realise that a roadmap to hybrid war was on the table for years and still everyone was completely blindsided and left to play catch up.” – Chapter 20.