In April 2017, Trump rallied Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to unite against terrorism, and countries that nurture terrorism. Apparently responding to Trump, both KSA and U.A.E. organized a blockade of Qatar.
The incident seemed like the death of irony, since KSA is famous for exporting terrorism, and the USA’s own record in this regard is tainted with its patronage of different terrorist organizations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It was clear to many that something was amiss in the American support of the Qatar blockade.
The U.S. was not in the position to gain much from the blockade. Conversely, the U.S. may have lost any good will from the country that hosts one of America’s largest and most strategically important base in the Middle East.
Rex Tillerson scrambled to end the blockade, as did many other aghast officials. The one White House official not alarmed by the blockade was the first son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner seemed to have even egged his father-in-law on.
In a not completely unrelated sequence of events, Kushner’s father had met with the Qatari finance minister to solicit an investment in the Kushners’ distressed asset at 666 Fifth Avenue. The Qatari minister rejected the offer, according to a new report from The Intercept.
Although the spokesperson for Jared Kushner has deemed any such connections to be complete “fantasy,” it is not difficult to imagine the importance of such a deal for Kushner, and the disappointment the Qatari rejection is bound to have caused.
The asset in question was Kushner’s first, albeit ill-fated, foray into real estate.
In 2007, a 26-year-old Kushner spent $500 million of his family’s funds, plus $1.3 billion in borrowed capital, to purchase 666 Fifth Avenue. In a masterful demonstration of his business acumen, the young Kushner bought the property at twice the amount it previously sold for. Before the financial crash, the building only managed to generate two-thirds of the revenue required for the Kushners to pay their debt.
It was only downhill after the crash.
The retail space had to be sold off, and half of the office space given to Vornado as part of a refinancing deal. The office space the Kushners currently retain is worth less than its $1.2 billion mortgage, due in 2019.
Even Qatari officials themselves seemed to have hinted at the possibility that the blockade was Kushner exacting revenge at them. Qatari officials visiting the U.S. in February allegedly contemplated turning over evidence of Kushner’s bias and involvement to Mueller, but decided against it as the move would only deteriorate relations between the two countries.
Kushner does not want his family to pay such a high price for the mistakes of his youth, and he has been pulling all kinds of strings to ensure that. Since November 2016, he has reportedly milked his father-in-law’s presidency.
He managed to rope in the suddenly interested Chinese insurance firm Anbang, and former Qatari princess Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who agreed to lend him $400 million and $500 million, respectively. Both of the parties later pulled out; Anbang because of critical media scrutiny, and HBJ when Kushner could not find a second major source of capital.
The Qatari episode is just one small example of how Jared Kushner’s business interests allegedly manipulate America’s foreign policy. It is no wonder then that Israel, Mexico, China and U.A.E. have all privately studied how to exploit his commercial interests for geopolitical gain, The Washington Post reports.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters