Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Are USAID and George Soros behind the Panama Papers?

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The Panama Papers is a joint effort by two independent NGOs: the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). But when we look closely at their financial benefactors, we find the Open Society Institute owned by George Soros and USAID, a US government agency.

The Panama Papers is "one of the biggest leaks in journalistic history, [it] reveals the secretive offshore companies used to hide wealth, evade taxes and commit fraud by the world's dictators, business tycoons and criminals", writes the OCCRP on its website. The "Panama Papers are documents obtained from a Panama-based offshore services provider called Mossack Fonseca. The documents were received by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)."

Among the people exposed in the Panama Papers, we can find over 140 politicians and officials, or politicians and officials’ relatives and/or close friends. But since the leak became public, western media mainly focussed on Russian president Vladimir Putin. The latter claims it’s a conspiracy to smear his name and reputation.

Is there any truth to Putin’s claim?

If we have a closer look at the financial benefactors of the OCCRP and the ICIJ – as listed on their websites – two names pop out: the Open Society Institute owned by billionaire and business magnate George Soros (the man who allegedly caused the 2008 financial crash) and USAID, “the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.”

One can argue against this conspiracy theory by citing the close US allies also exposed in the Panama Papers. But one can counter the argument by saying that these are minor collateral damage and the only way to give the leak some credibility.

So if the Panama Papers were indeed a smear operation, it makes sense to see Putin, Assad and others on top of the leaked list. But the strange part is that the Papers also shine a not-so favorable light (to say the least) on the rulers of most Gulf countries: Qatar, the UAE and most importantly Saudi Arabia.

Is Saudi Arabia a target?

Could this mean that the Unites States have given up on their ally, and that Saudi Arabia is now a target?

In an article published last year on this blog, "Is Saudi Arabia next?", I wrote: "For decades, mainstream media presented Saudi Arabia as “moderate”. Praising its role as a guardian of peace in the region. Suddenly, now that king Abdallah is dead, the same media talk of the many human rights violations committed in the Wahhabi kingdom. Suddenly, they discovered floggings, beheadings, and women’s dreadful condition in Saudi society…

Look well, almost all these media are running more or less the same story: “beyond the praise of world leaders, the gruesome reality of the ruthless Saudi dictatorship.”  Such a coincidence is never innocent. It always seems to predict the worst. It always seems to precede mayhem and war.

Remember Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. For years, the Iraqi regime was presented as a moderate and modern force in a backward region, a secular regime fighting the evil theocracy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Then things shifted. Saddam became a new Hitler and Iraq the worst dictatorship on the planet. We all know what happened next: the destruction and division of Iraq.

The same thing took place with the Assad regime in Syria. First, it was a force of "moderation and stability" in a troubled Middle East (Lebanese know this more than others, and have paid a terrible price for it). Then the media started “discovering” the reality of the Syrian regime, soon joined by politicians and world leaders. And, again, we all know what happened next: a raging and destructive civil war and a de facto division of Syria.

These are the two most notorious examples, but there are many more around the globe. The plot is always the same; the results are also always the same.

What's most striking here is that Arab countries are falling one after the other and are being divided following a map that was widely shared by the media over the past few years. Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are becoming what this map prophesied. The only country on this map that has not yet fell into chaos is Saudi Arabia."

Conspiracy or coincidence?

Maybe there is nothing to it and it’s all coincidental. But when we find out that the organizations behind the Panama Papers are partly financed by American billionaire George Soros and by a US government agency, when the leak happens at a time when Saudi Arabia financial and political situations are less than enviable, when more and more "anti-Saudi" articles are being published around the world, let alone documentaries and news reports, it's legitimate to wonder what's really going on.

Not because we’re paranoid, but because we’ve seen the same scenario many times before. Especially in light of the infamous map published by mainstream media.

Those who would be inclined to applaud the eventual demise of Saudi Arabia don't understand how catastrophic for Lebanon (think of all the Lebanese working there), for the region and for the world this could be (imagine thousands of fundamentalists roaming free, with no viable state to contain them).

So, for everyone's sake, let's hope it's just one big coincidence.

© Claude El Khal, 2016

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