Tony Blair prioritised a lucrative telecoms contract as part of his role as Middle East envoy, a declassified confidential letter reveals. The Palestinian deal for a mobile-telephone network was sought by a company client of JP Morgan, the bank where the former British prime minister was hired as an advisor. But Blair says that he did not know about JP Morgan’s link to the contract.
International / MIDDLE EAST
Tony Blair’s position as Middle East envoy is under renewed pressure because of financial links between a telecoms company and his wife’s foundation.
Exaro can reveal that the Qatari-backed company, Ooredoo, which benefitted from Blair’s lobbying as representative of the Quartet for a mobile-telephone network for the Palestinian market, is a donor to – and “key supporter” of – the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
Fallujah is still a city under siege. Ten years after the “battle of Fallujah” captured headlines worldwide, the Iraqi city just west of Baghdad faces a continuing bombardment, this time from Iraq’s army rather than American forces. The Iraqi army claims that it is killing militants, but the attacks claim the lives of many civilians, writes one humanitarian worker.
BRUSSELS: Russia’s ambassador to the European Union issued a startling warning to other diplomats at a private lunch, Exaro can reveal. Vladimir Chizhov, permanent representative of Russia to the EU, warned that Russia could intervene on behalf of ethnic Russians beyond Crimea – in particular in Estonia and Latvia. Western diplomats and businessmen were taken aback the comments at a private lunch.
Russia’s highest-ranking woman politician faces accusations in the High Court in London of helping to “raid” assets worth more than £300 million. An application to the court to dismiss the accusations has failed. So, the allegations against Valentina Matviyenko – the third most powerful politician in Russia – are set to feature in a trial that is expected later this year.
Weak governance poses a serious threat to the European Union. The European Commission, the EU’s executive, organised a high-level seminar last week as part of its review of the system of financial supervision across the continent. Why bother though? The fact that Germany’s view is increasingly seen as the only one that matters seems to render such consultations futile, writes a former IMF economist.
This is how Libya distributes cash around the country. A Libyan teenager poses proudly next to currency worth more than £1 million that, he says, he was told by the interim government to distribute. Abd El Khader sits on a sofa with two million Libyan dinars in a picture that illustrates problems posed by the collapse of the country’s banking system.
Libya’s government is unable to account for unfrozen assets of $1 billion, according to documents leaked to Exaro. The reports show that the funds may have gone missing. The money was due to be paid to public-sector workers in Libya. In addition, the documents reveal that at least $3.5 million failed to reach victims of the conflict.
CAIRO: Egyptians love their dates. The eight-lane highway – known as “the spine of Cairo” – that runs from the business district of Egypt’s capital towards the ancient pyramids crosses the Nile over the ‘6 October Bridge’. The date marks the day when Egypt invaded Israeli territory in 1973. Egypt faces more troubled dates ahead as its main opposition says that it will boycott parliamentary elections.
TUNIS: Young Tunisians are taking to the streets again two years after what became known as the “Arab Spring” was triggered in this country. Mohammed Bouazizi, a young fruit and vegetable seller, set himself on fire in southern Tunisia two years ago today, after a row about a licence for a market stall. Exaro assesses the mood today of the fledgling democracy in north Africa.
ABU DHABI: Managers at Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, like to tell a crude joke about Arabs working for them. Crude as it is, the joke nonetheless betrays a deep unease in the country in which the airline is based, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And it helps explain why the Arab uprising is yet to reach this place.