Jared Kushner and the Qatar blockade: Conflict of interest?

Jared Kushner might have supported the Qatar blockade due to being denied financial support for his family company.

Published July 9, 2019 5:00AM (EDT)

Jared Kushner (Getty/Michael Reynolds)
Jared Kushner (Getty/Michael Reynolds)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

When President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was hired as a White House senior adviser for the Trump Administration in January 2017, he didn’t bring a wealth of government experience or foreign policy expertise to the table. But Kushner, as part of Kushner Companies, had private sector experience in international business. And a report by Mohamad Bazzi for The Guardian, published July 8, takes a disturbing look at the overlap between Kushner’s foreign business interests and U.S. foreign policy.

The countries Bazzi discusses in his report include Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And Kushner’s actions, Bazzi asserts, are raising questions on “whether his family’s business interests are driving his political decisions.”

In 2017, Bazzi notes, Kushner sided with Saudi Arabia and UAE in their blockade of Qatar — a country that declined to offer financial support for a Kushner Companies real estate project in Manhattan.

“Weeks before the blockade,” Bazzi explains, “Kushner’s father — the real estate developer Charles Kushner — met with a top Qatari official to seek financing for a distressed Manhattan office tower. The Qataris declined. One must wonder: did Jared Kushner support a blockade of a U.S. ally as political payback because it would not fund his family’s business?”

Bazzi also discusses Kushner’s close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS. Despite CIA Director Gina Haspel’s assertion with “high confidence” that MBS ordered the murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, Kushner has remained a staunch ally of the Saudi crown prince.

“Trump and Kushner have offered Saudi Arabia unwavering support for continued weapons sales and business deals with the kingdom,” Bazzi observes.

After being appointed a White House senior adviser in January 2017, Kushner resigned as chief executive of Kushner Companies. Nonetheless, Bazzi stresses, the president’s son-in-law “kept a substantial stake in his family’s firm, and he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, own real estate and other holdings worth more than $800m, according to disclosure forms.”

Bazzi concludes his piece by noting that in 2018, Kushner Companies managed to save their Manhattan office tower project — and there was a Qatar connection.

“A year after its ill-fated outreach to the Qatari government,” Bazzi explains, “Kushner’s family found a savior for its Manhattan office tower. In May 2018, Kushner Companies negotiated a bailout deal with Brookfield Asset Management, one of the world’s largest real estate companies. The second-largest investor in Brookfield’s real estate subsidiary happens to be Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.”


By Alex Henderson

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