That Chevron board essentially means oil money that is loyal to Saudi interests. Actually that is surprising since Hagel appears to be lenient with Shia interests like Iran and Hezbollah and their allies in Asia like Russia and China.
(GateStone)Wikileaks is at it again, this time, leaking a (promised) two million-plus emails from the Syrian regime, which has in the past eighteen months tortured, raped and killed at least 15,000 of its own citizens. And look what we have here: A memo explaining how to get away with it from Brown Lloyd James.
Brown Lloyd James, according to its website, “is managed by an elite group of distinguished former news executives, top-level White House and Downing Street political advisors, high-profile entertainment industry executives and experts in international affairs. Our staff have been at the right hand of presidents, prime ministers, media barons – and yes, even The Beatles.”
Among their areas of expertise is “reputation management.” As their promotional material helpfully explains, “Things happen in the course of global events that can quickly change your public image. A positive reputation and image are powerful strategic tools and effective insurance policies should something go wrong. Brown Lloyd James has the skills and experience to manage and control fast-moving and potentially volatile situations.”
Well, it will surely be interesting to see how a firm with those skills handles the leak of this document.
TO: Fares Kallas
FROM: Brown Lloyd James
RE: Crisis Communications Analysis
It is clear from US government pronouncements since the beginning of the public demonstrations in Syria that the Obama Administration wants the leadership in Syria to survive. [My emphasis added] Unlike its response to demonstrations in some other countries in the region, there have been no US demands for regime change in Syria nor any calls for military intervention, criticism has been relatively muted and punitive sanctions—by not being aimed directly at President Assad–have been intended more as a caution than as an instrument to hurt the leadership.
However, the tone of the Administration’s statements has grown noticeably harsher in recent weeks and may be nearing a tipping point that could make a reassessment of the US position towards Syria inevitable. One potential bellwether of this shift is the transformation in the public statements of US Senator John Kerry, the Administration’s de facto point man on outreach to Syria. Senator Kerry has begun to publicly backtrack his often-repeated confidence in the leadership’s ability to reform.
Media coverage of the situation in Syria has tracked with the Administration’s political arc. US media coverage of events in Syria was initially marginal, but has since moved closer to the front of the newspaper and the top of the broadcast news. This not only reinforces the Administration’s change of tone, it is emboldening critics–who maintain that Syria’s reform efforts are not sincere–and building up pressure on the US government to take further, more drastic steps against the country.
The memorandum observes that “Syria has had an imbalance in its communications approach since the beginning of the crisis.” I’ll say. Those videos of dead kids with their testicles ripped off are really giving Americans the wrong message.
“No one within the leadership,” the PR firm observes, “seems to ‘own’ the reform agenda from a communications standpoint.” Their advice?
- In our view, the President needs to communicate more often and with more finely-tuned messaging and the First Lady needs to get in the game. The absence of a public figure as popular, capable, and attuned to the hopes of the people as Her Excellency at such a critical moment is conspicuous. The key is to show strength and sympathy at once.
Oh, I get it now—that’s why she was on the cover of Vogue. I’d always wondered whose bright idea that was. I guess it’s the sort of thing that worked for the Beatles, so why not?
- The “reform” program does not yet have a face or brand.
Oh, but they’re wrong, it does have a brand. Human Rights Watch came up with the perfect slogan for it: “Torture Archipelago.”
“Torture Archipelago” is catchy, easy to remember, and it has a face to whom the whole world can relate: his:
The mildest form of torture is hitting people with batons on their arms and legs and not giving them anything to eat or drink. Then they would hang the detainees from the ceiling by their hands, sometimes for hours or days. I saw it while I was talking to the interrogators. They used electric stun-guns and an electroshock machine, an electric current transformer. It is a small machine with two wires with clips that they attach to nipples and a knob that regulates the current. In addition, they put people in coffins and threatened to kill them and close the coffin. People were wearing underwear. They pour hot water on people and then whip them. I’ve also seen drills there, but I’ve never seen them being used. I’ve also seen them using martial arts moves, like breaking ribs with a knee kick. They put pins under your feet and hit you so that you step on them. I also heard them threatening to cut off the detainees’ penises.
But never mind that, that’s not Brown Lloyd James’ department. Their problem is figuring out how to make sure no one sees that face. To that end, they propose:
- The campaign should create a reform “echo-chamber” by developing media coverage outside of Syria that points to the President’s difficult task of wanting reform, but conducted in an non-chaotic, rational way. The conditions for reform include peace and stability. These stories can be developed through direct interviews with the President and other senior advisors, op-ed and commentary articles written by credible third parties. This coverage will rebound into Syria.
- The campaign should be branded with a forward-looking title, such as “Syria al-Yaum, Syria Bukra.”
- Syria must improve its ability to contain negative media stories circulated by opposition figures living outside Syria. This includes countering rumors … and the daily torrent of criticism and lies. Such a professionalized, through capability would include … (Wait for it … )
- 24-hour media monitoring and response system should be in place with assets in UK and US markets.
- Social media sites should be monitored and false sites should be challenged and removed.
Yes, that’s right: Mobilize your “assets” in the UK and the US, spy on your citizens and censor them. (By the way: How much did Assad pay for the advice to spy on and censor his citizens? A pretty penny, I reckon. You really think he spent the money wisely, given that spying and censoring is already his métier, his art, his master-craft?)
So who exactly is Brown Lloyd James? Well, for a firm with so much experience in PR crisis management, they curiously didn’t seem to have a plan for dealing with this PR crisis: I called and wrote to them to see what they had to say about this document, but they weren’t answering the phone. (Here’s an idea for you, Brown Lloyd James: When you’re having a PR crisis, follow your own advice and get on that media-monitoring stick, 24-hours a day. I’m sure I won’t be the only nosy parker calling to pester you about this in the next few days.)
It gets worse. Brown Lloyd James apparently has “extensive experience managing complex international projects—including media campaigns and special events—for prominent clients, including for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Bid, the 2022 Qatar World Cup Bid, the United Nations Independent Inquiry into the Oil-For-Food Programme, AARP, Qatar Foundation, The City of London Corporation, the Independent Panel Review of the World Bank, Al Jazeera English, The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and various heads of states and government officials from around the world.” Frankly, they sound like the kind of firm that would test their applicants’ suitability for the job by offering them a newborn kitten and seeing if for the right price they’ll stomp on it.
It’s led, among others, by one Mike Holtzman:
He led the firm’s work on behalf of Qatar’s winning bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup as well as a campaign on behalf of Iraqi Governing Council member Ayad Allawi, who went on to become Iraq’s first post-Saddam Prime Minister. His clients include high level international political and business figures and prominent non-governmental organizations. He headed the BLJ team that supported the United Nations Independent Inquiry into the Oil-for-Food Programme, chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. At the government’s request, Mike was seconded to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Reprising a role he held with FEMA during the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Mike served as a media liaison from Ground Zero. Mike later served as a Consultant at the US State Department, serving as an advisor to the Director of Policy Planning Staff. Recently, Mike wrote two important commentaries on US public diplomacy in the New York Times. During the Clinton Administration, Mike worked in the Executive Office of the President as Special Advisor for Public Affairs to United States Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky. He was Director of Public Affairs to the Council on Foreign Relations from 1996-1998.
Oh, that’s who we want in those positions, for sure.
Ever wonder why the world’s so screwed up? It’s because people like Mike Holtzman, who think it’s a fine idea to advise clients like Bashar al Assad, are literally the ones running our government.
|(ynetnews.com h/t Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks )
(Palestinian agreement? Abbas and Mashaal Photo: AFP)
will Mashaal get a a Nobel Peace Prize now?
Fatah and Hamas agreed that future Palestinian resistance to Israel will utilize popular and peaceful means, rather than military moves, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared Saturday.
In an interview with the Euronews channel in Brussels, Abbas recounted his meeting with Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal about a month ago.
“We set the agreement’s pillars, and Hamas agreed with us that resistance will be popular and adopt peaceful ways, rather than military resistance,” the Palestinian president said. “The solution is the establishment of a state in the 1967 borders, and Hamas agreed to that, as well as to holding the elections on May 5, 2012.”
The surprising statements were made a day before another meeting is slated to be held in Cairo where the two Palestinian movements will be discussing the implementation of their reconciliation agreement.
‘Palestinians ready for state’
Notably, Abbas’ declaration contradicts various statements issued by Hamas this week on the occasion of its 24th anniversary. In one case, the group said that “resistance will continue in all its forms, as the movement’s favored way until victory, the liberation of Palestine and the return of refugees.”
In his remarks Saturday, Abbas also emphasized the Palestinian readiness for a state and the change underwent by the Palestinians in the past decade.
“We are a people under occupation, we demand independence and believe in peace and in international law, and we’re also implementing the culture of peace in our country,” he said. “Our institutions are ready and we received confirmation from the World Bank, from the International Monetary Fund and from donor countries.”
Abbas also characterized Israel as a peace refusenik and charged that to some extent the United States supports the Jewish state’s approach. He added that the Palestinians are trying to make clear that peace is not only a Palestinian interest, but also an Israeli, regional and international interest.
Palestinian PM suffers heart attack while attending son’s graduation at Great Satan University in Austin, TXMay 24, 2011
Washington (CNN) — Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad suffered a heart attack while visiting the United States and was hospitalized for treatment, according to a spokesman from the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank.
Fayyad felt chest pains Sunday while visiting Austin, Texas, for his son’s graduation from the University of Texas, Dr. Ghassan Khatib said from Ramallah early Tuesday. The prime minister was hospitalized and doctors found a blocked artery that they corrected, Khatib said. More… via eye-on-the-world.blogspot.com
I hope he doesn’t need any Israeli technology to save him. Would be a shame to have a martyr for the cause because of his BDS campaign.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed his wishes for a speedy recovery to Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad, who suffered a heart attack Sunday. via ynetnews.com
Anyone can start their own country! That doesn’t mean that people will recognize it, but hey, they generally won’t stop you from trying–as long as they don’t see it as a threat. So if you’d like to do your own thing in your own country, here’s how to establish a micronation.
Wikihow: How To Start Your Own Country
It looks like Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad could give Wikihow a tip or two on creating a country. Just yesterday, the ArabNews was reporting that Fayyad felt he was close to meeting the International Monetary Fund’s highest standards:
Palestinian Authority Prime Minster Salam Fayyad said on Tuesday he is confident his government will have the institutional framework in place by the end of the summer necessary to win global support for an independent Palestinian state.
“It is our goal and our expectation that as a result of what we are doing – getting ready for statehood, developing institutions that delivery services competently and (developing) core values – that our state of Palestine will be founded,” Fayyad said. “I am very happy to tell you that in many areas of governance we are already there.”
Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority’s No. 2, has been cracking down on corruption and inefficiency as part of a two-year-old campaign to gain recognition for a Palestinians state from the United Nations General Assembly, probably in September. Israel is opposed to the plan, saying a state should be achieved through negotiations, even though they have been deadlocked for months.
Fayyad said the PA’s economic bodies, including the Palestine Monetary Authority and Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), were already up to the standards he had set. He cited the Palestinian CBS for special praise, saying it was close to meeting the International Monetary Fund’s IMF’s) highest benchmarks.
And all in just 4 years–not bad considering the corruption and incompetency that has marked the Palestinian Authority over the years. Of course, the fact that the term of President Abbas–who still periodically threatens to resign–ended 2 years ago, with no elections in sight.
Be that as it may, while yesterday the ArabNews was talking about Fayyad saying they were ready for statehood–today, the IMF itself says the West Bank is ready to be a state::
Palestinian financial institutions are ready for statehood, an International Monetary Fund report praising Palestinian fiscal reform said Tuesday.
“The PA is now able to conduct the sound economic policies expected of a future well-functioning Palestinian state,” the report said.
So: what is the secret of Fayyad’s success?
Maybe it’s because:
Since taking over a barely functioning administration four years ago, Fayyad has deployed a Western-trained security force to restore law and order and spent billions of dollars in foreign aid to build infrastructure and boost the economy.
Or maybe Fayyad just knows the right people:
In contrast to most Palestinian leaders, Fayyad spent much of his adult life in the West, getting a doctorate in economics from the University of Texas and enjoying a career at the World Bank and IMF.
Of course, back in 2009, when the New York Times noted that Signs of Hope Emerge in the West Bank, there was not one mention of Fayyad–though there was a mention of Netanyahu, who had made economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority a key plank in his campaign:
The Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it shares the goal of helping Mr. Abbas, which is why it is seeking to improve West Bank economic conditions as a platform for moving to a political discussion. The Palestinians worry that the political discussion will never arrive and say the Israelis are doing far too little to ease the occupation. Still, they point with pride to the many changes in the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s 100-day plan pledges to work with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, envoy of the so-called Quartet that supports Israeli-Palestinian talks, to advance the Palestinian economy. The Quartet is composed of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the U.S.
…Israel has already approved electricity and water supplies for the park in the district of Jenin, where a bloody battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen took place seven years ago.
…Of the at least four industrial parks on the drawing board, Jenin is the most advanced, boosted by cooperation between Mousa and his Israeli counterpart, Danny Atar, and supported by a U.S.-trained Palestinian police force. Also working in Jenin’s favor: The two Jewish settlements that once existed inside the district boundaries were evacuated in 2006.
But no one is going to give credit for helping turn around the West Bank economy to the person most credit for turning around the Israeli economy.
Besides, back in 2008, there was already a turnaround noticed in Ramallah–and there was no mention of either Netanyahu or Fayyad:
It’s easy to notice a huge variety of languages, cultures, and Western faces among the crowded tables of Cafe de la Paix, next to Ramallah’s city hall. Pilgrims, foreign NGOs’ personnel, journalists, and Palestinians from other West Bank cities have found a perfect place to spend some quality leisure time. The peace is broken only when nearby mosques play the muazzin calls for prayers.
Palestinian analyst and businessman Sam Bahou says the city is definitely going through a “five-star occupation,” pushed by the resumption of hundreds of millions of dollars received by the Palestinian Authority by international donors. Besides that, the recent high oil prices have created additional revenues for oil-rich countries like Qatar and other Gulf nations, which are investing: music festivals and other cultural activities haven’t been so lively in the past few years, says Mohammad B, a shop owner.
Bottom line, the turnaround in Ramallah–and the rest of the West Bank–is undeniable.
However, whether that qualifies the West Bank as being capable of existing as a standalone independent state is another question entirely. Now add to that the continuous incitement of hatred in the West Bank towards Israel, and Israel’s security concerns about limiting the military and airspace of such a proposed state.
What will actually end up happening come September is anybody’s guess.