An Apology 2256

I am so committed to getting my book finished I really don’t have time or energy to blog at the moment, and realise it has been very desultory the last few weeks. I am well and happy, it is just that writing a properly researched history is incredibly intensive. I realise there is much of great interest happening in the world, but I must sometimes cut myself off from it.

This is why I don’t ask for donations for the blog…

2,256 thoughts on “An Apology

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  • Ba'al Zevul

    al-Araby is taking a healthy interest in Blair’s relationship with Sisi:

    Although Blair repeatedly denied these reports ( that Blair is advising Sisi -BZ), Egyptian diplomatic sources speaking on condition of anonymity told The New Arab there is a large degree of truth to them.

    Blair and Sisi met multiple times outside Egypt, they said, without the meetings being announced. The two men met in China as well during Sisi’s visit to Beijing in December 2014, and again in London in November 2015, the sources said.

    “The relationship between them is closer to being a friendship, as Blair is seeking to launch new political initiatives in the Middle East and Africa on issues like energy, food, water and climate,” the sources said.

    Blair’s latest visit to Cairo comes amid such a context, the sources added, pointing out that he left Cairo for Ethiopia to launch a new initiative for energy conservation there*, together with African leaders.

    *He was on the ground in Ethiopia for less than 20 hours, and his sole activity reported to date was inspecting an industrial park site.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    There’s no need to read this, unless you haven’t yet noticed that Blair is wholly enraptured by the application of technology to increase cash surpluses in offshore bank accounts. But here’s an official blairing:

    Cellphones will save the world. Oddly familiar from the utterances of Cherie Booth, QC, Empowering Women Entrepreneurs, Ooredoo saleswoman, Vodafone and Exxon associate, Renault director, etc. By ensuring all bank transactions are by mobile phone, a profit is guaranteed to the phonecos, and the banks take yet another cut on every transaction ever made. Away with cash!

    Also present at this bizarre gathering (Waugh’s ‘Black Mischief’ won’t leave my brain, for some reason) is Howard Buffett, zillionaire philanthropist. Whose genial PR style is to favour ‘investment’ over ‘charity’. All very well, but who gets the dividends from the investments remains unspoken. The Africans? The hedge funds? Let’s not go there.

    Not that Rwanda doesn’t need a bit of an assist. The Blair story is that it is a land of enterprise and an economic miracle. Other views exist, however:

    Though full marks to Kagame for not doing a Erdogan/Sisi on the journalist who wrote it…

  • Ba'al Zevul

    As according to the schedule, the blairing should be taking place just about now in Kigali, either his taxi has gone to Entebbe without him or it wasn’t his taxi. Apologies.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Setting a new low for irrelevant flannel:

    No, not that Robert Mugabe. We hope.

    In other news from Kigale, the Oracle opines that corruption must not be ignored. Corruption doesn’t include sinecure jobs obtained for him by people he has helped, then. Or parlaying ‘charitable’ contacts into business opportunities for his backers. Heaven forbid.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Belatedly, we learn that the Fragrant Spouse will be/has been at Kigali, too:

    Women are Africa’s most precious resource, apparently, notwithstanding what Bob Diamond (also there) may have to say about minerals, oil, loan books, etc. They need to be empowered…entrepreneurial…growth…global… And… …my Foundation has trained 2,500 women as mobile banking agents for First Bank Nigeria. This is the future. Everyone, move to the city and start selling each other loans.


      • Ba'al Zevul

        Since February last year, as far as the Blair content goes, and slightly longer, but sporadically on previous threads. The management has very kindly allowed me to squat here. Thought I’d try and record what he was up to as a sequence, to build a Year in the Life… but he just keeps on giving.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      We need to think about Kagame. Like any ‘Stan dictator’s, his public utterances mask the reality of life in his country, which is much-less-reported in the West than the alleged economic opportunities for speculators. Blair’s presence at his World Economic Forum event – which was less than stellar – was to lend Kagame any last dissipating wisps of democratic credibility with which Blair’s friends might attribute to the Oracle. He appears to have participated in just one discussion, and the discussion spent much of its time validating Kagame’s extended rule. Which, for the credulous Rwandan in the street, was at the earnest and unanimous request of his devoted subjects, but which for anyone else, was obviously a fix. Now read on.

      Kagame’s not a huge fan of free speech, either. Inyenyeri’s had previous problems:

  • Ba'al Zevul

    M-ASRI – Kigali – Amman, landed ~0046 UTC this morning. Since little was heard from the Blairs after the first day of WEF Africa, a little marital break courtesy of the Rwandan people may be indicated. A Jordan stop has been known to indicate an Israel visit, previously. Private flights with Arab owners have recently been seen to stay out of Israeli airspace.

  • Ba\'al Zevul

    Here’s Tony admiring the Mergims stand at WEF Africa in Kigali this week.

    Who dey?

    An app to enable Rwandans abroad to send their earnings back home. And to permit the enabled entrepreneurs to lift a percentage, obviously. Coming soon to an ethnic corner store near you, probably along with the pic.

    Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler and more profitable, Tony, to sign up as the public face of Coca-Cola?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Let us leave the Blairs, or one of them (Despite earlier indications, Mrs hasn’t released anything that looks as if she was physically present at Kigali, but might have done a video address at some point. She wasn’t listed as a speaker) either sumptuously accommodated in Amman or Tel Aviv, or having winged their way home on a scheduled flight, and return to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, before which Blair declined to appear in February. For which many questions remain; and this, published on the 22nd March contains a fair number which it would like both Blair and the FCO to answer, without equivocation or flannel, as they haven’t done so to date.

    A long and damning, point-by-point dissection of a story which deserves a wider audience, strongly suggestive of a hand-in-glove relationship between the FCO and Blair some time after the latter had left office and had become a private, if privileged, citizen.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    A Blair advisee gets a good fisking:

    But now I must introduce you to this ambitious chap whose boss was housed in one of Saddam’s guest villas and who joined the Iraqi dictator in a joint condemnation of American aggression. Yes, the former Milosovic minister of information – who knew very well that Saddam had sent telegrams of mutual support to Milosovic at the height of the 1999 Kosovo war when the Serbs, under NATO air attack, were driving 200,000 Muslims out of Kosovo – is none other than the present-day Prime Minister of Serbia.

    That man is Aleksander Vucic, who wants to take Serbia into the EU and is thus loved by our EU mates in Brussels and who is now advised by – no drawing in of breath here, please – Tony Blair. And since Blair has now ‘advised’ the dictator of Uzbekistan and more recently the Egyptian coup leader, Brigadier General President al-Sissi, Vucic is in good company.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Not only has Blair been rather reticent during the last couple of weeks -even the ghostwriters of the TBFF seem to have writers’ block – but his MSM detractors have left him alone too. It can’t be for lack of material. Perhaps the campaign was intended to pre-empt any attempt by Sadiq Khan to get the Blairite vote out while running as mayor. Khan very wisely delayed announcing his Blairite sympathies until after the race was run, however. So that ploy, if that was what it was, backfired.

    From the parallel universe that is the Clinton Foundation, linked by an n-dimensional wormhole to Blair’s spacetime, emerges this:

    Another watchdog said laws are not equipped to deal with the overlapping interests of the sprawling Clinton foundation and its principals, which include an ­ex-president and the current Democratic front-runner for the presidential nomination.

    The Clinton foundation’s work, by its nature, blurs the lines between charity, business, politics and public service, making it very difficult to evaluate in a traditional way,” said Sunlight Foundation Director John Wonderlich.

    I shan’t labour that point.

  • Ba\'al Zevul

    Tying a few loose ends: M-ASRI, the private jet belonging to Naguib Sawiris, Egyptian telecoms-to-media tycoon, returned from Kigali late on the 12th, and landed at Amman. Briefly, consistent with embarking or dropping a passenger. Early on the 13th, it flew to Tel Aviv. From there it may have departed for Moscow (the identification is uncertain) on the 14th. For some or all his African anabasis, it carried Tony. On the 14th, Jean-Marc Ayrault visited Tel Aviv and discussed the French peace initiative with both Netanyahu and Abbas. The former was hostile to the idea of multilateral talks as he favours direct negotiations which he can obstruct, while blaming the Palestinians for their failure. Abbas was in favour.

    The French proposal is to reassemble the Quartet for a meeting, with other concerned States, on the 30th, but without Israel and the Palestinians. The US line on this is moderately antagonistic, although Kerry is capable of surprises, and the Russian line moderately supportive. Given Blair’s consistent championing of Israel and his former, if discredited, position as Quartet representative, is it too much of a leap in the dark to suggest that he is once again meddling in the process? And that the French initiative would stand a much better chance of success if he were forcibly excluded from any part of it?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    In other news, it’s been reported for a couple of days now that Alex Salmond is seeking cross-party support for impeaching Blair, should the Chilcot report show that he did indeed fix invasion plans well before any approval had been sought on this side of the pond. Snag: Salmond wants to bring a charge of aggression to the ICC, but the ICC currently doesn’t deal with this charge. Alternative scenario, proposed by Jim Sillars: pass the appropriate legislation in the Scottish Parliament and bring him to book in Edinburgh. Not sure what the procedure on extradition* would be, there, Jim. And Mrs B has some experience of getting genocidal war criminals off the hook too (Blair Miles, passim).

    *possibly from Egypt or Kazakhstan, if the shit hit the fan…

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Tel Aviv – Qatar, landed ca 1325. Must have been at TA all this time (hence not Moscow!), and TB hasn’t popped up anywhere else.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      …incidentally, picked up/dropped off someone/something at Amman (Marka) airport en route. Cherie? Cherie’s a great fan of Qatar and probably bored shitless by Netanyahu A few days unwinding with the Jordanian royal family would have been just the job. But I stress, this is all speculation until confirmed.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Two possibly relevant events:

      Today: Sisi magics yet another Plan out of the tarboosh (Netanyahu having pulled a face at the very idea of the French one):

      May 18th: emergency meeting of Arab League, with Abbas

      Arab League HQ is in Tahrir Square, believe it or not. So, if the crystal ball’s on the right frequency, M-ASRI will shortly be returning to Cairo.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        I can’t get anything right today. Summary of position:

        Arab League emergency meeting will be in Bahrain, not Cairo, tomorrow. It’s in the link. As far as I have any way of knowing, Blair will be there too. Cherie’s close ties to Qatar are irrelevant. It looks as if Blair might have spent the previous four days in Tel Aviv, Pass the popcorn. Mystic Ba’al suggests a wonderful new spirit of peace and reconciliation will emerge from the AL meeting, bypassing the Quartet’s consideration of the French Plan. Which spirit will gradually evaporate during June, as Netanyahu manages to find ways of wriggling out of it and continuing with his low-gear ethnic cleansing.

  • B'al Zevul

    Recorded simply in case it proves relevant: M-ASRI from Bahrain to Dubai, landing 17/05 2137 UTC. Followed about an hour later by bizjets N71GE, from Farnborough, and 9H-VFD, completing the round trip from Dubai to Mecca. The latter left ca 0530 UTC headed west.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Some neglected background on Blair’s continuing interest in the UAE:

    In which Blair is seen to be integral to UK foreign policy simultaneously with his representation of Mubadala and as Quartet envoy. And his repudiation of the (non-terrorist, democratically elected in Egypt) Muslim Brotherhood comes sharply into focus.

    An intriguing aside on investment by the UAE in a yuppie development in Manchester:

    The £1bn deal was announced last year (2014) with little public scrutiny. A report which set out “the detailed commercial arrangements” for the joint venture was kept secret because it “involved consideration of exempt information relating to the financial or business affairs of particular persons”

    Planning permission was given last year, and the development is being done by the Manchester Life Development Company, which, sure enough, is co-owned by Manchester City Council and the Abu Dhabi United Group. It’s not low-rent, or even affordable. We hope Mr. Cameron, in his quest to evict foreign oligarchs from the London property market, manages a glance oop norf.

    Pure coincidence, presumably, that Cherie’s speculating in the Manchester rental market too

    • Ba'al Zevul

      …however, the Abu Dhabi holding of 51% of MLDC Ltd (reg. UK Companies House) is not held under that name, but Loom Holdings Ltd. This appears (a) not to be UK Companies House registered, and (b) to be Jersey registered. Offshores, don’cha luv ’em?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Not often I feel sorry for Blair, but here’s some evidence that he was at least trying:

    “Neither Blair, Sisi nor Herzog could understand how Netanyahu wound up going with Liberman,” said a political source. “Blair thought he could engineer the Netanyahu government and Herzog counted on the international embrace that Blair arranged for getting him into the government. It didn’t work.”

    What Blair continues to fail to understand is that Netanyahu has not the ghost of an intention to establish a two-state solution. And will actively resist any attempt to make him do otherwise. Liberman shares (and exceeds) his view on this.

    It is a measure of the growing perception that Palestine is a major cause of Arab disaffection that this was tried, presumably with Kerry’s knowledge. It is a measure of the incomprehension of the forces involved that it failed.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Kerry was in Egypt yesterday. That’s the man I really feel sorry for. He knows that the US will not lean hard on Israel, and that there is no other way of finding a just settlement for the Palestinians. He’s being asked to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but it’s always a dead rabbit. Meanwhile Blair, acting deniably for the UK (in which he holds no official position, lest we forget) and always deferential to Tel Aviv, pushes his proboscis into this pile of shit when the fancy takes him.

  • Ba\'al Zevul

    M-ASRI now on its way towards the UK from Abu Dhabi, currently over Belgium. Normal blairing will be resumed shortly, we imagine.

      • Ba\'al Zevul


        Tony Blair Office ‏@tonyblairoffice May 17

        ICYMI: Tony Blair on why success in the modern age requires being open to the world:

        Happy to oblige…

  • Ba'al Zevul

    More details on the Blair – Sisi – Kerry sucker punch:

    Contrary to what has been published so far, it was Herzog and not Netanyahu who suggested to Blair asking Al-Sisi to deliver the speech. Apparently, Blair and Herzog agreed that Al-Sisi should request in his speech that “the Israeli parties reach a national accord over the need for pushing forward the political settlement process with the Palestinians”. And this, in fact, is exactly what he said in his speech.

    The sources said that Blair went last week to Cairo where he met with Al- Sisi and asked him to deliver a speech “in which he addresses the Israelis directly in order to enhance the prospects for reaching an agreement over a national unity government”. Ravid also said that in spite of the conclusion of Blair’s mission as a Quartet envoy, he comes once every two or three weeks to the region and visits Israel where he briefs Netanyahu and Herzog about everything he hears from the Arab leaders.

    According to the sources that spoke to Ravid the only message which Blair conveys to Netanyahu and Herzog from the Arab leaders is about their readiness to develop the relations with Tel Aviv, but adding that the Arab leaders always stipulate that Israel should communicate with the Palestinians regarding the settlement.

    The sources stressed that Blair was the one who initiated the mediation between Netanyahu and Herzog in order to form a national unity government in which the Labour party participates.

    The sources pointed out that Blair took the initiative of communicating with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who blessed the idea and urged the Egyptian side to respond positively.

    And see May 8th entry for that previous visit.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    All searches for Blair’s recent activities, swamped by “a source’s” probably optimistic prediction that Chilcot will eviscerate him (all media), are yielding very little, time for a retrospective. In reality, Blair may well wriggle out of any legal proceedings currently hypothesised to arise from Gulf 2003. While much of the hard work to support such a case has been done by Chilcot, it’s likely that the report also contains plenty of caveats and getout clauses for the kind of legal help our Tony can now afford to hire.

    But his financial structure remains largely unexplored, beyond the mandatory public record. The purpose behind the complex and interlinked parallel groups, Firerush Ventures and Windrush Ventures, is, unless we wholly accept Blair’s claim that the labyrinth is designed to ensure his privacy, obscure. However, clues exist. Here’s one, from the PetroSaudi affair:

    PetroSaudi signed up Blair’s team to lobby Beijing in the summer of 2010 and internal PetroSaudi correspondence reveals there were questions raised about the apparently opaque nature of Blair’s businesses and the role he could play.

    Tony Blair courted Chinese leaders for Saudi prince’s oil firm

    PetroSaudi executives warned in early September 2010 that they had “no contractual nexus with TB” and were anxious about “the lack of apparent employment or other involvement of TB in the corporate structure”.

    To convince PetroSaudi that if it paid it would get Blair, his executives revealed for the first time how his complex web of companies worked. Blair’s businesses are split into two wings: Firerush, which was governed by the then City regulator the Financial Services Authority, and Windrush, which was not.

    What bothered PetroSaudi was that it was paying roughly $55,000 to Firerush and about $10,000 to Windrush. Both firms trade as Tony Blair Associates (TBA).

    From early on in their relationship PetroSaudi executives admitted they knew “very little” about Blair’s firms. In an email in August 2010, the company’s executives said they “would like to understand more about the structure and the relationship between Firerush, TB Associates and TB. In particular, the engagement letter mentions the provision of services by employees of Firerush which seems, like a number of concepts in the engagement letter, inappropriate given we are only looking to engage with TB.”

    To allay concerns in November 2010, Varun Chandra, a former Lehman Brothers banker and director of TBA, told PetroSaudi that Blair was the “ultimate owner of all this and owns all the share capital” of all the companies. He told PetroSaudi it was not relevant which company got paid “given where the cash ultimately ends up”.

    Just so. Tony Blair Associates, according to its website, consists of two Windrush and two Firerush companies (as noted elsewhere): the front, limited company, and the opaque, unaccountable LP in each branch. Again in each branch, these, via the LLP member not included in TBA, transfer substantial sums between themselves as payments for management services. Nothing else is visible.

    Windrush handles governance advice and faith-related business – I say ‘business’, advisedly. Firerush required FSA supervision because it does money. Inter alia, via a securities broker in Kansas City MO, as noted previously. The beauty of the setup is that no-one outside it, including State regulators, gets a fix on the amounts of money involved or their location. The desire for privacy claimed by Blair is total. He’s not just trying to keep the hacks off his case. So what’s going on?

    Windrush Ventures exists to initiate and sustain contacts, whether via the TBFF or the AGI. These are both charities, though you will not see an AGI volunteer in the street shaking a tin. If the contact is successful, AGI installs a branch of itself in the target government, and is funded, not by Blair’s income stream, but by a foreign aid or ‘charitable’ investment source: World Bank, Mubadala, Clinton Foundation*… and a cut from other contracts within the TBA group, which may well be recorded for the purposes of PR as charitable donations. Or, in the case of PetroSaudi, not. It appears that Blair was in this instance ‘sourced’ by Windrush and sissociated in some way from his own company, Firerush: the split payment reflects the management fee Blair was effectively paying himself (as Windrush) to hire himself (as Firerush) to advise PetroSaudi.

    Byzantine, eh?

    *which itself suckles from the international aid teat, redistributing the milk of human kindness to its friends…

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