Thursday, August 25, 2016

Donald's Middle-East Duplicity: The Shocking Truth about Trump's Anti-Islamic Smoke and Mirrors

by Nomad

As the Republican Party's fading hope, politician Donald Trump has capitalized upon and expanded anti-Muslim tensions and fears. However, as a businessman, Trump has no qualms about making lucrative deals with the very same people he has painted as America's biggest threat.

Total Shutdown

Back in December, the Trump campaign announced in a written statement Republican nominee to be would, as president, demand a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Even for a bombastic man like Trump, those were stunning words. Both sides of the political spectrum were speechless.  

In fact, it was one of a series of statements that ruffled some feathers. In November, a month before his announcement, he had said that as president he would "strongly consider" closing down mosques and proposed that mosques in the United States be monitored for terrorist activity.
(In fact, as Trump probably already knows, mosques have been the subject of FBI surveillance and infiltration since the time of Bush. And as a result of this, the federal courts have been wrestling with legal questions about possible rights violations to religious freedom, freedom of association and privacy.)

Scholars also questioned the constitutionality of a "religious test" for immigrants. 
Even technically, how would be possible to ensure the accuracy. It only takes one terrorist to tell a fib and Trump's plan is torpedoed. Terrorists, as a rule, tend to be hesitant about excessive self-disclosure.
A lot like Trump, actually. 

Nevertheless, Trump's supporters roared in delight and put their hands together. Finally, a candidate was taking the radical Islamic threat seriously, they claimed. 
President Obama, Trump has repeatedly pointed out,  refused even to use the phrase "radical Islam." Actually, Obama has made it clear why he thinks labeling terrorism according to religious beliefs is a mistake. It was, the president said, "a political talking point. It is not a strategy."
“If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.”
After all, when is the last time you heard a Republican call the KKK- a big time supporter of Trump-  a radical Christian group?

The Atlantic Monthly pointed out that Trump's shutdown remark didn't leave very much wiggle room. (Or so it seemed at that time.)
For one, this was not an off-the-cuff remark, a response to a vague question, or even an idle retweet. Trump detailed his new position in a written statement sent to hundreds if not thousands of reporters covering the campaign. And it apparently extends beyond immigrants to Muslim-American citizens living overseas. It includes “everyone,” Hope Hicks, a campaign spokeswoman, told The Hill.
"Everyone" is a lot of people. What about tourists and businessmen- will they be included in this "total and complete" shutdown?
(In reaction, there was so much negative press on both sides of the political spectrum to his stand that eventually he was forced to walk back from his earlier statements.)

His anti-Muslim rhetoric became even more divisive following the Orlando nightclub attacks. When a 29-year-old Muslim American, Omar Mateen,  killed 49 people and wounded 53 others.

On the campaign trail, Trump amped up his call for a Muslim ban. He couldn't resist saying "I told you so" within hours of the attack. He predicted that the rampage in Orlando “is just the beginning” and Americans couldn't afford to be politically correct.”
"Remember this, radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti- American...When it comes to radical Islamic terrorism, ignorance is not bliss. It's deadly -- totally deadly."
Without citing any evidence, Trump also accused Muslim communities of harboring "bad apples" like the Orlando shooter. As outrageous as that accusation was, Trump couldn't stop himself.
Speaking on "Fox & Friends," Trump openly implied that the president was not a trustworthy leader when it comes to fighting terrorism and that the president had some kind of secret agenda which supported terrorists. The dog whistle was audible to practically everyone: Obama was a Muslim terrorist in disguise.

The Fake Science of Inciting Hate

To show that this wasn't merely hysteria, Trump cited a study by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Center for Security Policy (CSP). That group promotes hawkish foreign policy and its director, Frank Gaffney, is a former Reagan-administration defense official. The group has been described as "not very highly respected." Southern Poverty Law Center, called it "an extremist think tank" led by an "anti-Muslim conspiracist".

An unscientific poll conducted by Gaffney’s organization validated all of the public fears about Muslims and their loyalty to the US. The data suggested that more than half of all Muslim-Americans preferred Shariah [Islamic law] and a quarter of those asked thought violence was justified in an Islamic jihad. Professional pollsters pointed out that the poll was, at best, dubious. They claimed the methodology was flawed in concept and execution and so the results were unreliable.

Nevertheless, this veneer of scientific evidence was more than for Trump's campaign to justify extreme measures and a "vicious" approach. Trump portrayed himself as America's defender against the Muslim invasion:
"They're not coming to this country if I'm president.And if Obama has brought some to this country they are leaving, they're going, they're gone."
He told CNN's Jake Tapper during one of the debates:
"Islam hates us. There's a tremendous hatred. And we have to be very vigilant,"
One thing Trump has demonstrated: It really doesn't take all that much to form a lynching party in today's intolerant America. The heartland was ready to believe the worst when it comes to Muslims, even their own citizens.

In February, NBC News/SurveyMonkey national online poll found that two-thirds (67 percent) of those identifying themselves as Trump supporters said they do not hold favorable views of Muslim Americans. Compare that to the general population (35%) who said they felt the same way. 
Nearly 9-in-10 (87 percent) said they support Trump's call to institute a temporary ban on Muslims who are not American citizens from entering the United States, while 47 percent of all voters who responded that way.

Friends and Enemies

When a so-called surrogate for Trump, Sen. Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions III from Alabama, was asked about the specifics of the Muslim ban, he was unable to worm his way out of certain contradictions. He was, for instance, asked to provide a general list of which countries would be included, Saudi Arabia was conspicuously absent. 
Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen were all mentioned but not the Saudi Kingdom.

Strange thing, too, since 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia and Trump himself has all but accused that nation of being behind the September 11th attacks. What good is the proposed ban if it doesn't apply to the all of the nations. What good is the ban if it doesn't include Saudi Arabia?

As the debates progressed, Trump seemed to talk less and less of Saudi Arabia. When he did occasionally refer to the kingdom, it was left unnamed: "a certain country in the Middle East."

He had his reasons for not being vague and it had nothing to do with national security, the Islamic threat or anything other than his own self-interest.
*   *   *
Referring to the imagined revelations As Trump said in that Fox News interview:
It’s sort of nice to know who your friends are, and perhaps who your enemies are. 
So true.
Trump own advisor Roger Stone called Saudi Arabia "the motherland of Wahhabism."
That's true. This branch of Islam is the predominant belief in the kingdom. It's also true that Wahhabism has been identified by the European Parliament in Strasbourg as the main source of global terrorism
As we shall see, the very people Republican nominee Trump calls the enemy are the same people he regards as friends when it comes to making deals.

What Trump Did a Year Ago

Trump's demand for the release of all classified data pertaining to the terror attacks of 2001 is reasonable enough if it clears up any lingering doubts.
Yet, Trump's strident demand for absolute transparency from the government doesn't seem to apply to himself. Especially his past and present business deals.

Despite Trump's attempts to keep the details secret, the UK Independent last May managed to track some of these highly lucrative arrangements. This information only came to light only as a result of the mandatory filing of his financial records to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The 104-page document lists 527 current job titles for the businessman-turned-politician. According to one investigative report, the documents hint at the depths of Trump's perfidy.

Here's what I am talking about.
On Aug. 21, 2015, - one year ago -Trump drew his biggest crowd to date at a rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Some 30,000 people showed up that day. For old-school Republicans who thought Trump was a joke, such a turnout was a wake-up call. 
To the crowd, Trump promised to repeal Obamacare and end birthright citizenship (which would, by the way, require abolishing the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.) 
As one delusional fan said that day:
"I believe he is the man that God has chosen to bring America back."

Businessman Trump was apparently also busy on that day.
According to the records, on that very Friday, he allegedly incorporated four companies that seem related to a possible hotel project in Jeddah, the second biggest city in Saudi Arabia. He is listed as the president and owner of THC Jeddah Hotel Advisor and DT Jeddah Technical Services Advisor.

In May, a month before that, it was reported that, in addition to owning a number of investments in future commercial projects in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Trump was also head of Trump Hotel Collection Group (THC) which is believed to be undertaking the construction of many hotels in the kingdom

Coincidentally, Saudi Binladin Group (SBG), a multinational construction conglomerate, is also headquartered in Jeddah, It was founded back in the 1930s by the father of the terrorist Osama bin Laden. 
Whether or not Trump has partnered with this top construction firm to build any of his hotels in Saudi Arabia is unknown. We do know however that SBG recently signed a US$1.23 billion contract to construct the tallest building in the world, Jeddah Tower (also known as known as Kingdom Tower.) 
The project's architects also designed the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. Whether there are any closer connections than that is unclear. 

In any event, businessman Trump has clearly had no misgivings about working with wealthy partners there and making sure they are treated like.. well, like royalty.

Very Compelling Deals

Saudi Arabia- the nation he paints as America's enemy- isn't the only Muslim country Trump has been willing to transact business with.
Jessica Eggert writing for Policy Mic, points out that "a fair amount of the billionaire's assets come from business ventures in the Middle East."
For example, his privately owned international conglomerate, The Trump Organization, his luxury real estate venture, has "a significant amount of real estate in the Middle East."
This includes a luxury line of hotels, Trump Hotel Collection (THC). In addition to Saudi Arabia, there are plans to build hotels in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar.

Back in 2008, it was reported in a construction trade website that the Trump Organization confirmed that it was interested in partnering with Nakheel Properties, a real estate developer in Dubai. They were looking to construct the world's tallest building, The Burj Dubai (presumably to rival the Jeddah Towers in Saudi Arabia.)

The Trump Organization's executive vice president and son of the 2016 anti-Muslim campaigner, Eric Trump, said in an interview:
"The tallest tower in the world? Well, that's what we do. We build very tall, sleek, elegant buildings. If questioned about building the world's tallest tower, we would obviously be interested."
Evntually, however other arrangements were made and the Trump family was left out in the cold. As the interview proves, Eric was clearly enthused about the prospect of making millions from his Middle Eastern partners. 

Today, Eric Trump is telling reporters that the public release of his father's tax returns would be damaging. 
“It would be foolish to do. I’m actually the biggest proponent of not doing it."
People "who know nothing about taxes" might get the wrong idea, Eric Trump said.
You don't learn that much from a tax return.You learn a lot more when you look at somebody's assets. You know how many hotels we have around the world. You know how many golf courses we have around the world. You know every single building we have."
He has a point. The Trump's assets alone are incriminating for a politician who has been so outspoken against Islam. 

The Trump Organization's executive vice president of development & acquisitions is none other than, Trump's daughter, the uber-cute Ivanka Trump.

In an interview conducted at about the same time Trump was debating about throwing his hat in the ring, she said:
“Dubai is a top priority city for us. We are looking at multiple opportunities in Abu Dhabi, in Qatar, in Saudi Arabia, so those are the four areas where we are seeing the most interest. We haven’t made a final decision in any of the markets but we have many very compelling deals in each of them.”
Like her brother, Ivanka was positively overjoyed with doing business in the Middle East. The same people her father would later demand be given a religious test before entering the US. 
“I think there is an opportunity to exceed what’s [already] been done in the Middle East, and [we can] create something truly iconic and special. We always love developing in places where people have bold visions and that’s very true here in the Middle East.”
This bold vision in the Middle East includes gender inequality. That's a subject Ivanka herself claimed was a subject her father was deeply, sincerely committed to.

And yet, Saudi Arabia, the nation that Trump and his daughter salute, continues to be the worst country in the region when it comes to providing equality of women’s rights to that of men. 

Smoke and Mirrors

Trump- who as president would advocate extreme vetting for people arriving from Muslim nations- has shown a far less discriminatory attitude closer to home. 

The Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan (within walking distance of Ground zero) is reportedly home to Saudi Prince Mutaib bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a former minister in the Saudi government, and a member of the Saudi royal family. Prince Mutaib owns an entire floor of the building.
According to some reports, the international airline Qatar Airways also has a New York office in the Trump Tower. Office space with an address like that doesn't come cheap. Listings for office space in the building start at almost $19,000 and can cost more than $106,000. 

The state-owned flag carrier of Qatar, a constitutional monarchy ruled by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has had a “corporate campus” in the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in Manhattan since at least 2008.
Any ban on Muslims will, we can safely assume, not include any of Trump's Qatari guests/students. 
A peek at the Qatari sheik's Wikipedia page reveals some details about his kingdom:
Qatar has for many years supported a spectrum of Islamist groups around the region. Especially since the beginning of the Arab Spring upheaval in 2011, the country has provided diplomatic mediation, financial aid, safe heaven, and weapons to Islamist groups...With regard to Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar welcomed Brotherhood cadres since the 1950s.
That's the same group that the Trump staffer Roger Stone, mentioned in an effort to slander the Khan family.
But there's more about Qatar to report. 
Qatar has been publicly accused of supporting Islamic terrorism. According to an article published by the Wall Street Journal, American officials have confirmed that U.S. has uncovered Qatari connections in financing for al Qaeda and Islamic State.
Business is business and Trump is not going to let a little thing like accusations of terrorist involvement keep him from the art of the deal.

Qatar launched flights to New York in 2007 and to celebrate the announcement, Trump and his wife Melanie were guests at a ritzy hoedown at Lincoln Center. The photo above shows the happy couple hobnobbing with Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker on the red carpet. That was long before Trump made his stand against Muslims.

The Qatar Airways CEO offered this insightful appraisal of Trump and his rhetoric. Trump, he implied, is not at all what he seems.
"It's all smoke and mirrors with Donald. Donald is a businessman -- at the end of the day he will see what is in the best interest of his country."
Trump's anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric, Al Baker told CNN earlier this year, was designed to appease right-wing voters
What a loaded remark and so startlingly honest.
Al Baker implies that Trump is cynically using the issue merely to get votes. His supporters might be surprised to learn that Trump doesn't mean a word of what he is saying. 
Trump's anti-Muslim policy is all an effective (and responsponsible) lie to get votes. He might have fooled millions of American voters but his Muslim business partners appear to be in on Trump's little secret. 

The Ugly Truth about Trump's Dubai Project

Since 2013, Trump has been involved with the development of Trump International Golf Club, a 7,205-yard golf course in Dubai. The venue will feature a 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art clubhouse, which Trump wrote on the site "will be the largest of its kind in Dubai."

The website for the fantabulous golf club features Trump prominently. That's natural. Although it is not being built directly by Trump's company, the venture uses Trump's licensed brand name and relies on his world famous name to promote it amongst the Middle Eastern 1%.

The 18-hole course is part of a larger project at the heart of the 42 million square foot ‘AKOYA by DAMAC’ master development.
A statement (personally signed by Trump) points out that the expansive clubhouse contains three high-end restaurants and the luxurious Trump Spa & Wellness Centre. The development also includes four international-standard tennis courts. In the works are also be luxury villas and mansions which will overlook the course. All in all, it will be huge, unbelievably huge.
In a word, swank.

Here's the over-the-top sales pitch for the property development which includes the golf course. The actual site looks much less like earthly paradise and more like a desert wasteland, which, of course, is what it is.

Trump and Slave Labor in the Desert

The graphics at the website leave no doubt who the guest/customers will be. However, this kind of luxury comes at a high cost to people the super-rich will never see. This pampering is being supplied on the sweaty backs of construction workers living in slave labor conditions. 

Investigative journalists found that migrant workers constructing Donald Trump's new international golf course were living in deplorable conditions and  receiving poor pay. These are actually migrant workers making subsistence wages (if you plan on living in a third world country, I mean).

VICE Senior Producer and Correspondent Ben Anderson examined the miserable living and working conditions workers there faced in an HBO documentary "Trump in Dubai."

Squalid conditions, according to Anderson, include "a tiny, grimy kitchen that serves roughly 150 workers, and an outdoor bathroom area that reeks of sewage." The wages? One worker revealed he made only $231 per month.

It might be argued that this is work and they ought to be glad to have it. Yet, another told the reporter that he would rather be home in Pakistan than in Dubai – but he was unable to leave because the company that employs him took his passport. A common practice among corrupt construction companies in many parts of the world.
Once signed up, there's no escape.

In an effort at damage control, Trump's local partners have removed billboards which reportedly displayed Trump in mid golf swing and Ivanka. Another billboard proclaimed the site would be "The Beverly Hills of Dubai" and even used a movie still of Marlon Brando in "The Godfather."
That's perhaps a fitting symbol of Trump. Not really Vito Corleone but merely an actor who plays the fictional head of a gangster empire.

Business vs. Politics, National Security vs. Self-Interest

As Americans, it is profoundly upsetting to listen to Trump and his attacks on Muslims and Muslim Americans. He is stirring hate based on flimsy evidence and capitalizing on the prejudices of the ignorant. All for his own political advantage.
Behind closed doors, it is a completely different story.

As this post shows, if the money is right, Trump's principles on fighting terrorism can be extraordinarily flexible. He may call for transparency but a full- even a partial -disclosure of his business arrangements in the Middle East would no doubt drive his campaign off a cliff.

All of Trump's noxious anti-Islamic rhetoric may be vote catching. Stoking public fears is a skill that Trump appears to have mastered. Yet, no matter how inflammatory views,  the truth is that Trump's business agenda will always triumph over his hateful message.

His supporters, blissfully unaware of his opportunistic ventures in the Middle East, refuse to believe that Trump isn't the "real thing."
His business partners in the Middle East don't seem to be particularly worried excessively about all his rabble-rousing. Unlike the people who plan to vote for Donald Trump in November, they understand the man and his priorities very very well.
They know smoke and mirrors when they see it.