iranus

Obama’s “Precious” Friends

A lot is and will be written about from now on, about the funding of the US Presidential Elections’ Campaign in the past and most of them are in the public eye however  now  that the time is approaching for re-elections, bahrainviews.com  found an interest to see who’s funding the candidates that go unnoticed and what  is expected from the latter once they are elected with this little help from their precious “friends”. Quite Simple.

In a recent article, Dr. Essam Abdallah, an Egyptian liberal intellectual who teaches at Ain Shams University and writes for the leading Arab liberal publication Elaph, has written:

In the US, there are interests that determine foreign policy. And there are lobbies that put pressure to get their objectives met in foreign policy. One of the most powerful lobbies in America under the Obama Administration is the Muslim Brotherhood greater lobby, which has been in action for many years. This lobby has secured many operatives inside the Administration and has been successful in directing US policy towards the Arab world. Among leading advisors sympathetic to the Ikhwan is Daliah Mogahed (Mujahid) and her associate, Georgetown Professor John Esposito. Just as shocking, there is also a pro-Iranian lobby that has been influencing US policy towards Iran and Hezbollah in the region.

One of the most important activities of the Islamist lobby in the US is the waging of political and media wars on the liberal Arabs and Middle Eastern figures and groups in America. This battlefield is among the most important in influencing Washington’s policies in the Arab world. If you strike at the liberal and democratic Middle Eastern groups in Washington who are trying to gain support for civil societies in the region, you actually win a major battle. You will be able to influence the resources of the US Government to support the Islamists in the Middle East and not the weak democrats. This huge war waged by the Islamist lobbies in America started at the end of the Cold war and continued all the way till the Arab spring. The two main forces of this lobby are the Muslim Brotherhood fronts and the Iranian fronts. According to research available in the US, the Ikhwan fronts such as CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), led by Hamas supporter Nihad Awad, as well as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Society of North America, and others waged their political war to block the representatives of Arab liberals and Muslim moderates from making their case to the American public. The Iranian lobby, exemplified by the National Iranian American Committee (NIAC), led by Trita Parsi, has been hitting at Iranian exiles.

Islamist lobbying groups whose scope is to exercise influence in the global business, social and political arena were found one way or the other backing up Barack Obama during the 2008 Presidential elections. In our article “Obama the Manchurian Candidate” we had referred to an article by Daniel Pipes reporting on the direct and indirect ties of Barack Obama to Islamist extremist groups linking to HAMAS and HEZBOLLAH, something that endangered even his security clearance for the position.

Obama was also found to have indirect links to Saddam Hussein through his involvement with two corrupt businessmen living in the West, Nadhmi Auchi and Antoin S. “Tony” Rezko both being convicted of fraud and money laundering.

As for NIAC’s role and support by the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton we have analyzed the connections in multiple articles which you may find here, here and here.

Yet, another link  is that of the Balli Group plc with which we will deal in this article, a very powerful business group, highly active in Tehran but also highly influential in Washington and London.

Vahid Alaghband is the Founder and Chairman who as per their website: “was educated in Switzerland and the USA, where he received his BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at Cornell University. He is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a trustee of Asia House London and an International Council Member of Asia Society New York.”

His brother HassanAlaghband is the Director and “joined Balli Group in 1990 after six years with US law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and two years as a Professor of Law. He has a BS in Management & Accounting, an MBA from Boston University and a Juris Doctor from the American University. Hassan is also a Member of the District of Columbia Bar, the State Bar of California and a Certified Public Accountant.

Hassan’s wife is Farah Alaghband. In the company the younger brother Nasser Alaghband is also in the executive committee.

In 2003 and on his way to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Vahid Alaghband was detained in Switzerland on a German arrest warrant following WestLB’s criminal complaint for credit fraud commited by Balli Group with regards to a takeover contract of German Company Kloechner & Co by Balli Group, where WestLB was a partner in deal. After spending 11 months in jail in Switzerland and Germany in which time WestLB bought Kloechner, Vahid was released without charge. Five years later WestLB offered an undisclosed financial settlement to cover damages caused to Balli Group and apologized to Vahid, but the company’s nightmares would not end there.

In March 2008 Balli Aviation, a subsidiary of the Balli Group, was one of the three Iranian-connected companies that the US Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security decided to penalize due to exporting three US Origin Aircraft to Iran in violation of the Export Administration Regulations and to their intentions to further export another three aircraft.

Balli Aviation pleaded guilty at the court for illegally exporting a Boeing 747 from the US to Iran and agreed to pay a $2 million criminal fine, a $15 million civil settlement and to be placed on corporate probation for five years.

According to information filed with the court, Balli Aviation Ltd. from 2005 to 2008 conspired to export three Boeing 747 aircraft from the United States to Iran. Using its subsidiaries, the Blue Sky Companies, Balli Aviation purchased U.S.-origin aircraft with financing obtained from an Iranian airline and caused these aircraft to be exported to Iran, via what appears to be a cut-out entity, Blue Airways, registered in Armenia. Balli then entered into lease arrangements that permitted the Iranian airline, Mahan Airways, to use the Boeing 747s to fly in and out of Iran, department documents said“.

And then you have a list of “contributions” by the Alaghband family in 2008 to “political causes”… $28,500 in June 2008 to Barack Obama, $70,100 in November 2008 to McCain. Taking into consideration the amount the company was fined and made to appear guilty of conspiracy, this little investment didn’t really pay-off…

.

The latest data indicates that Farah Asemi Alaghband’s, wife of Hassan, campaign contributions for  2012 reached $10,000 so
far (and still it’s the beginning of the year) out of which 7,500 is donated to Obama 2012 Victory Fund.

But aside Balli’s Group and their owners’ troubles and scandals there is a much more interesting twist in this case clearly showing the leverage lifted to the US foreign policy with regards to Iran.

Vahid Alaghband is the Chairman of the Iran Heritage Foundation: “a non-political UK registered charity with the mission to promote and preserve the history, languages and cultures of Iran and the Persian world“.

A message from the acting CEO Farad Azima on the Foundation’s website is describing the relationship between the Iranian Heritage Foundation and the PARSA CF, a Persian community foundation in the U.S. and the leading Persian philanthropic
institution practicing strategic philanthropy and promoting social entrepreneurship around the globe.

“IHF is also delighted to announce its agreement with the PARSA Community Foundation in California. PARSA has generously supported IHF’s existing Institutional Partnerships and digitisation programmes and has also financed the first year of a new curatorial post at the British Library.” Farad Azima – Acting CEO

According to these official documents Vahid Alaghband has been a major donor to the PARSA Foundation. Apart from the direct donation to PARSA these official documents show an indirect donation through the PARSA of a total of $900,000 over a period of three years to Washington based Brookings institution.

“Coincidentally” in 2008, Suzanne Maloney, a former Exxon Mobile advisor and then a senior fellow at Brooking  and her husband Ray Takeyh “were asked by Brookings and the Council on Foreign Relations to write an advisory report for the next President on how best to deal with Iran. They came up with “Pathway to Coexistence: A New U.S. Policy toward Iran”. The report’s title is
explicit enough
.” Read more here

On the other hand, the Iranian Heritage Foundation tops in the list of Grantees by the PARSA Foundation by having received as per their data on their official Website totally $685,000.  PARSA is known for being the major fundraiser to the NIAC too, by granting a total of $ 591,500, ranking second in the same grantees list.

So the Iranian Heritage Foundation gives money to PARSA Foundation and PARSA Foundation grants donation to the Iranian Heritage Foundation. If this is not called money laundering, I wonder what is.

As a note, among the list of grantees published by the PARSA Foundation, Freedom House has also been referred to have received a total of $10,000. Therefore you can question, what kind of freedom is this house .

Another interesting link in this association is Noosheem Hashemi who appears in the above documents corresponding with Vahid Alaghband. Being in the Board of Directors of PARSA she is handling part of the Meadowood Social Venture Fund run by the
organization which concerns contributions of $1 million and above from partners to support the foundation’s operating costs.

But Noosheem Hashemi is also the President and Co-founder of yet another “Charity Organization” called HAND whose mission is: ” to advance the philanthropic sector, prevent child sexual abuse and build a global middle class.”

“The name HAND was inspired by the Persian proverb of “one hand has no sound”; and the names of the founders’ children whom they hope will carry on with philanthropic work throughout their lives” as per the information on their website.

PARSA Community and NIAC are in the list of grantees of HAND too as you may see here.

Not that surprisingly Noosheem Hashemi seems to invest in politics: Her contributions to political organizations for 2012 (and we are only in the start of the year) seem to have surpassed $76,000 out of which $35,800 were given to the Obama 2012 Victory
Fund.

The efforts of Iranian origin businessmen to shape USA’s foreign policy towards Iran extend to every direction and involve all kind of actions, from lobbying to influencing the media (NIAC), organizing charities to political researches, even recruiting western politicians to advise the exercise influence with regards to their commercial and political tactics and goals.

On 28th Feb an event is organized at the Asia House of London titled: “Engaging with Iran“. Characterized as a “political event” its description states:

Iran is a huge market with many business opportunities for UK companies.
However, doing business with Iran has been weakened by the unstable political situation, which makes commercial relations with Iran difficult to maintain. Chairman of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce, the Rt Hon Lord Lamont of Lerwick, will share his experiences and visions for engaging with Iran with Vahid Alaghband, Chairman of Balli Group, and corporate guests of Asia House.

 

Lord Lamont… The British Politician, former director of Rothschild Asset Management and presently The Director of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce recently speaking against Iran’s Sanctions, just preparing the ground for this political event.

But….

At the same time, Rt. Hon. Lord Lamont of Lerwick is in the Advisory Board of the Iranian Heritage Foundation,

AND

Non-Executive Director of the Balli Group

Undeniably a very good friend of the Alaghband brothers who is entrusted the political dimensions of their operations in the USA and the UK, which leads to the “naïve” conclusion: EVERYTHING IS POLITICS and POLITICS IS BUSINESS.
Back in 2006 Norman Lamont had stated in an interview:

I think Iran is a significant power in the region, and its power has been increased by the Iraq world, a Shia belt has formed stretching Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon – I don’t think they are going to wage an aggressive war against somebody, I really don’t think they will. But they have leverage via Hamas, Hizbollah. I think we do need to continue talking to them. I think unfortunately we are in the grip of history and forces that have put us in this position.”

As for the Lord Lamont’s relationship with William Hague, the British Foreign Minister (the counterpart of Hillary Clinton in the US) and First Secretary of State, had served as Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont until 1993 when Lamont was sacked and Hague moved to the Department of Social Security.

We will leave the comments for you.