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Monday, January 11, 2016

Meet Mr. WTF

A short while ago, I wrote that no serious person now believes the claim that Bashar Assad used sarin on his people.

(The allegation was always stupid, since gassing civilians in Damascus was militarily useless and could serve only to draw the US into the Syrian war. In an age when many people cry "false flag" too readily, the 2013 sarin attacks in Damascus provide us with the clearest, most obvious examples of the tactic on record.)

In response to that post, a reader sent in the following:
Unfortunately that's not true, Joseph. Zombie memes persist in certain quarters. Website is a good example and seems to have cornered the market on blatant, highbrow, Right wing propaganda. Brooklyn-Middleton tells us that not only did Assad commit the Ghouta sarin attack but that he's planning more of them. Meanwhile, Azeem Ibrahim (his CV is unbelievable) provides "Five reasons why we must NOT censor ISIS propaganda", explains "Assad's Commitment to Killing" and why the "West’s backing of Assad would only help ISIS."

These guys aren't going away any time soon. Expect more lies.
Azeem may have escaped my radar until today, but he sure as hell is on it now.

Take a look at this guy's background. His miraculous career is one of the greatest mysteries of the modern age.

Still under 40 years of age (at this writing), he is the son of a small-time grocer in Glasgow who went bankrupt. Azeem spent seven years with the UK’s 4th Battalion Parachute Regiment, an elite unit which trains to operate behind enemy lines. I don't know what happened to the guy during that time, but something seems to have clicked into place. With jaw-dropping rapidity, he has managed to become a wealthy and powerful figure within the defense and financial establishments of the UK and the US. He owns his own bank and his own hedge fund. He runs a number of influential think tanks. His Scotland Institute advertises itself as "progressive and independent," even though Azeem talks like Yet Another Neocon. Sorry: Make that "liberal interventionist."

How does a career like this happen? Who pulled which strings?

(You don't have to read the following bio carefully; skimming will suffice.)
His achievements have attracted considerable recognition around the globe and over the last few years Azeem has met and advised a number of world leaders, including the Prime Minister of Turkey and leaders in the Gulf States. Business Interests: It all began in 1997, when Azeem launched his own IT consultancy. In 2001, he began a similar but larger operation in Europe. Three years later, he set up his own insurance corporation focusing on the niche maritime-transportation market. Later in 2004, Azeem established the European Commerce and Mercantile Bank, a private offshore concern specialising in accounts for commodity traders. Valued at over $100m by independent auditors, the bank has offices in Sweden and Dubai’s Emirates Tower.ECM Bank’s parent company, ECM Holdings, also includes ECM Asset Management, a Swedish-registered credit union building society, and ECM Clearing House, a Panamanian-registered financial clearing house licensed to trade in currencies, precious metals and commodities. Azeem Ibrahim’s most recent and ambitious venture is ECM Investment, a private equity hedge fund that has outperformed all the other big institutions, netting over 40% a year on investment. Azeem aims to target high-net-worth individuals, particularly in the Gulf and sovereign funds, with a view to taking his fund to 1 billion pounds within the next five years. Backed by a start-up team awash with Oxbridge and Ivy League MBAs and PhDs, the fund has succeeded despite world credit problems.

A keen scholar and former member of the elite Parachute Regiment, Azeem is said to bring his academic mind, strategic thinking and love of military planning to his business dealings. Academic life: Azeem’s former professors refer to him as a ‘highly intellectual scholar’ and a ‘first-class critical thinker’. He obtained an MBA and an M.Sc.(Econ) in Strategic Studies, then read for a PhD at the University of Cambridge on Geopolitical Strategy. Azeem also served as a Research Scholar on the International Security Program at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. Azeem was also elected a Full Member of the Institute of Directors in 2004 and is an active member of several US and UK think-tanks and academic institutions. These include the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. He is regularly invited to deliver papers in front of these bodies and attend meetings to discuss strategic problems with academics, politicians, diplomats and foreign-affairs analysts. Azeem also sits alongside former UK Defence Chiefs as a Director and Board Member of the UKNDA - United Kingdom National Defence Association - which operates to improve the position of the armed forces in government circles.

In 2008 Azeem also became a member of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy’s Dean’s International Council - a prestigious group of specialists from around the world with substantive experience in government and the private sector including former Prime Ministers, Presidents, Ambassadors and Diplomats. The Council meets twice a year and acts as an advisory group for new policy initiatives and resource development for governments around the globe.
Seriously, who did this guy blow?

Maybe someone high up in "The Family" said: "Y'know, Adnan's getting too old. We need someone to take his place. How about this kid in Scotland? He looks good in a suit..."

Let us now take a look at what Mr. WTF has to say about Syria. The headline is a real hoot: "West’s backing of Assad would only help ISIS." If the year were 1941, Azeem would probably write a piece titled "US backing of USSR would only help Hitler."
When you ask Syrians – whether those living in the hell the country has become, or the refugees that have managed to escape – what is the main problem, the majority will give a one-word answer: “Assad”.

This is why I find the rising voices of people like The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn, journalist Tariq Ali, and others on the left so bizarre.
Azeem? May I call you Azeem? I'll do so anyways, regardless of your preference. My message to you is a simple one: Go fuck yourself, you lying piece of shit.

I seriously doubt that Mother Agnes would give that "one-word answer." I doubt that the kidnapped nuns of the convent of St. Thecla would give that answer. I seriously doubt that any of the displaced Christians among the Syrian refugees would give that answer.

All Syrian Christians lived in peace under Assad, and all Syrian Christians back him now.

Granted, if push came to shove, a man with Azeem's immense wealth could probably pay a few refugees to say the words he wants the world to hear. I have no doubt that he could pay for a "study" designed to buttress a preordained conclusion. Any such study would cause an instant sneeze if placed under the nose of someone with a phobic reaction to propaganda.

Azeem's piece gets even better. Check out this logic:
The Assad regime was overwhelmingly dominated by the minority Shia-aligned Alawite sect in Syria, who numbered no more than 12 percent of the population. And in that sense, the style of administration somewhat resembled the old colonial model of Western empires, where Britain and France would typically elevate one minority over the rest of the population and use them to administer territory. Being a minority, this would be the only way they could maintain such a prominent position, so their loyalty to the colonial masters was implicit. And this sectarian dimension also played out in the way that state repression was dished out in Syria: Sunnis, especially, bore the brunt of the repression, since they constituted about 80 percent of the population, so were always the most likely threat to the regime.
How the hell does Assad's Alawite background relate in any way to British colonialism? Isn't it more rational to argue that Assad's (very quiet) adherence to a minority faith is indicative of his government's inherently secular nature?

Under Assad, people of differing faiths have received equal treatment, which is why Syria's Alawites, Shi'ites, Yezedis, Christians -- not to mention all secular Sunnis -- continue to support the Assad government. That's why he was elected in a vote that international observers considered fair. That's why he remains more popular in Syria than Obama or Trump or Hillary are in the United States.

Azeem is using rhetorical trickery to justify thuggish Sunni paranoia toward the Alawites, a minority group which the Sunnis have long bullied. (It's particularly cute to see a Scottish Muslim display bigotry toward a minority group.) Again: The Syrian government is secular. Assad never oppressed Sunnis; he simply did not allow Sunni fanatics to oppress others.

You know what you get when Sunni maniacs gain control of a country? You get Saudi Arabia, which is arguably the most hellish hell-hole on the planet.

You also get ISIS.

If ISIS gains control in Damascus, the result will look a lot like Saudi Arabia.

And if you wrapped Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Armani, the result might look a lot like Azeem Ibrahim.

Added note: Another agit-prop piece by Azeem offers this choice bit of wisdom...
No, the ISIS problem can only be solved by the regional Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and the Emirates.
This statement is absolutely true, if by "solved" one means "caused."

Thanks, I passed it on to my friends here.
There's a lot of nonsense talked about the Paras. The Parachute Regiment is just a normal line infantry regiment, not a special forces group. True, they are the most prolific provider of men for the SAS, but the Paras aren't into sinister back door shenanigans.

If our chap there isn't yet forty, he can't have been born later than 1976. That would mean he started his business (in 1997) at twenty one. At what age did he join, and leave, the army if he spent that much time in it?

How does one go about owning a credit union or building society, as those are almost by definition mutually owned?

The Guardian still routinely places a sentence in it's Syria reports stating that the Syrian government used sarin gas. Likewise, Hillary Clinton is still sticking with the story.
Stephen, you ask some good questions.

What I find intriguing is the fact that Azeem somehow started his own maritime insurance company. This might well have brought him into contact with the movers-n-shakers within the oil business -- that is, with the Saudis. Or perhaps with the Erdogan family, which is shipping a lot of ISIS oil these days. Those shipments have to be insured, right?
What you have here is a future UKplc PM. Groomed and stacked on the shelves awaiting the time he is needed. His created outlook is London City centric ideal. Anti European and bought and paid for. That is why his family was imported all those decades ago.
jo, I'm very grateful to you for linking to this article. I'd like more people to pay attention to Azeem.
Incoming: You really think Azeem could be a future PM? Do you see him as a kind of British Obama?

Horrifying thought.

We really do have to keep an eye on this guy.

More here in comments, not sure about were he lives that on this answer.
Yes, next PM and just like obomber a Manchurian candidate. m16/cia plant.
Azeem Ibrahim does not appear to have a Wikipedia page, which is interesting in itself. If you go to his own website and click on all the institutions and foundations he heads up they mostly follow the latest corporate model of noble goals and few details.

There's a good background piece here. Seems he has some business failures behind him.

He speaks English, Arabic, Pashto and Urdu and has an interest in Pakistan:

Taking seriously the situation in Pakistan. (Mar 2009)
How America Is Funding Corruption in Pakistan (Aug 2009)
On Rewriting Pakistan’s Economy Recovery from Scratch (Oct 2010)

One idea he presents is that Pakistan is losing the war against Islamic terrorism and should negotiate with 'moderate' Islamists.

Curiously, he speaks out against Saudi Arabia and Wahabism. (Feb 2015)

He also says that Syria is Dying and that a transitional government is called for free of Assad and "Sunni-Shia enmity". And that Putin's latest land grab is in Syria:

"If Russia is seen to engage directly to aid the Assad government, it is highly unlikely that Syrian rebel forces could be persuaded to come back to the negotiating table." (Sep 2015)

There are no clear signs who he works for.
Maybe he just made millions by pulling himself up on his own!!!
This is the kind of stuff I absolutely LOVE to read. Welcome back, compadre and thanks!! :)
Ho scoperto oggi il tuo sito. Good work. From Florence - Italy
If Azeem is 40 then he was born in 1976. If he joined the army at 18 (in 1994) and served seven years then he got out aged 25 (in 2001). Then -- 7 YEARS LATER! -- in 2008, Azeem became a member of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy’s Dean’s International Council.

And he did it all without political patronage....ROFLMAO!
4 para is dads army, a joke, plastic AKA the TA...
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