Donald Trump Jr., Dubai business partner discuss ‘new ideas’

Donald Trump Jr. (AP)
Updated 18 May 2017
0

Donald Trump Jr., Dubai business partner discuss ‘new ideas’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Donald Trump Jr. traveled to Dubai and met a billionaire business partner in the city-state, discussing “new ideas” as the Emirati’s real estate firm still lists possible plans for future joint projects while Trump’s father is in the White House.
The Trump Organization has said it won’t make new foreign deals while Donald Trump serves as America’s 45th president. That didn’t affect the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai’s opening in February , while a previously planned Trump-branded golf course designed by Tiger Woods is still being built nearby.
Both projects are being built by Dubai’s DAMAC Properties, owned by Emirati billionaire Hussain Sajwani. His company has paid the Trump Organization’s subsidiaries between $1 million to $5 million for the projects, according to a US Federal Election Committee report submitted in May.
Sajwani’s Instagram account posted a picture Tuesday night showing him with Trump, who now runs the Trump Organization with his brother Eric, at a table covered in a spread of Middle Eastern food and a plate of French fries.
“It was great having my dear friend and business partner Donald Trump Jr. over for lunch,” a caption with the photo read. “Discussing new ideas and innovation always make our meetings even more interesting.”
DAMAC did not respond to a request for comment about the meeting. However, recent regulatory filings made by the company suggest possible future plans with the Trump Organization.
DAMAC mentioned the Trump Organization in a prospectus for a sukuk, a type of Islamic bond, launched in April on the NASDAQ Dubai exchange. That filing noted DAMAC’s “product expansion also includes branding arrangements with ... the Trump Organization.” It also listed plans for a “luxury boutique hotel to be operated by the Trump Organization” at DAMAC Hills, a massive development of villas and apartment buildings in Dubai’s desert that surrounds the newly opened Trump golf course.
Similar language had been included in previous regulatory filings by DAMAC, but its presence in documents after Trump’s election suggests the real estate company is keeping its options open. Days before becoming president, Trump had told journalists that DAMAC had offered the Trump Organization $2 billion in deals after his election, something DAMAC also confirmed.
Meanwhile, a quarterly earnings filing Monday made by DAMAC’s holding company listed a newly created subsidiary called Trump International Golf Club LLC, in which it described as holding a 100 percent legal and economic interest. The UAE-based entity lists its principal activity as being the “golf club,” without elaborating.
The Trump Organization has no new deals in the works in Dubai, company spokeswoman Amanda Miller said Wednesday. The company declined to answer other questions.
Experts have raised concerns that existing Trump business abroad could run afoul of the so-called “emoluments clause” of the US Constitution. That clause bars public officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments and companies controlled by them without the consent of Congress. Already, a liberal-funded watchdog group has filed a lawsuit citing the clause.
Others criticize Trump family members for traveling with Secret Service details while on private business trips, something afforded to them as direct relatives of the president.
While in Dubai, Trump also gave a commencement speech Sunday at the American University in Dubai, a private university founded in 1995 that has some 2,700 students. The university did not announce Trump would be making a commencement speech on its website ahead of time.
“When I look back on what my father did in this past election, and the risk he took, to me I’m far more impressed with the fact that he tried than by the fact he actually won,” Trump said in the 14-minute speech. “For a billionaire to step away from an amazing life and spend $75 million to go up against an incredible Republican field and then go up against one of the great political machines ever assembled... to do that was amazing.”
“We believed in his message and not necessarily the contrived message that was put out there in the media,” he added.
The university did not answer repeated e-mails and telephone calls asking if Trump received any payment for his speech. Security guards turned away an Associated Press journalist at the university’s gate Wednesday.


Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

Updated 55 min 11 sec ago
0

Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

  • Veteran Shiite politician Adel Abdul Mahdi informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi
  • Decision reached after extensive negotiations between pro and anti-Iran factions

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s rival Shiite blocs in parliament have agreed on who they want as the next prime minister after making progress in negotiations towards forming a government, negotiators told Arab News.

The two factions, one pro Iran and the other anti, have agreed to work together as a coalition, negotiators told Arab News on Tuesday.

The veteran Shiite politician and former vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi was informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi, negotiators said. 

He will be assigned on Sept. 25 to form a government if his nomination is approved by the Kurdish blocs. 

Before the appointment of prime minister, the president has to be selected. There is no indication that the Kurds, who get the post according to the Iraq’s power sharing agreement, have decided on who to nominate. 

Iraq’s parliament has been split between the Reform alliance and Al-Binna’a alliance after elections in May.

------

READ MORE: Iraq parliament elects Sunni lawmaker Al-Halbousi as speaker, breaking deadlock

Rival Iraqi factions make coalition deal and end Al-Abadi’s prime minister hopes

Rival Shiite factions trade blame for who drove the burning of buildings in Basra

Iran accused of hijacking Basra protests after a week of violence that shook Iraq

------

Reform is controlled by Muqtada Al-Sadr, one of the country’s most influential Shiite clerics who opposes Iranian influence in the country.

Iran-backed Al-Binna’a is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, the head of Badr organization, the most prominent Shiite armed faction.

At the first parliamentary session earlier this month, both coalitions claimed they have the most number of seats which would give them the right to form a government.

Within hours, violent demonstrations erupted in Basra, Iraq’s main oil hub, killing 15 demonstrators and injuring scores of people. The Iranian consulate was set on fire along with dozens of government and party buildings.

The violence on the street reflected the stand-off in parliament and threatened to erupt into fighting between the armed wings associated with the different Shiite groups.

The agreement between the two blocs was the only way to end the violence and prevent a slide into intra-Shiite  fighting, senior leaders involved in the talks said.

Several meetings between Al-Sadr and Al-Amiri were held in Al-Sadr’s residency in the holy city of Najaf last week to defuse the crisis.

Both parties’ desire for a truce seemed clear on Saturday at a parliament session to elect the speaker and his deputies. The two blocks showed their influence without colliding with each other. Al-Binna’a presented its candidate for the speaker post and stepped down after winning to make way for the Reform bloc to present its candidate for the post of first deputy of the speaker without competition.

The negotiations teams continued their meetings over the following days to agree on the details of the government program and select the nominee for the prime minister among the dozens of candidates presented by the forces belonging to the two alliances.

The first results of talks between the two blocs came out on Tuesday when Al-Amiri withdrew from the race “to open doors for more talks,” and avoid  conflict between the alliances.

“We will not talk on behalf of Al-Binna’a or the Reform. We both will agree on a candidate. Compatibility is our only choice,” Al-Amiri, said at a press conference in Baghdad.

“Today, Iraq needs to be saved, as we saved it from Daesh, so we have only two options, either we choose to impose the wills and twist each others arms or choose the understanding between us.”

 Iraq has been a battleground for regional and international powers, especially Iran and the United States, since 2003 US-led invasion. 

Brett McGurk, the US envoy to Iraq and Syria, and General Qassim Soleimani, commander of Iran's Al Quds Force, are deeply involved in the negotiations. 

The candidate for prime minister should also enjoy the blessing of the religious powers in Najaf, represented by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the Shiite spiritual leader and most revered figure in Iraq, negotiators said.

“The situation is complicated as there are three different sides that enjoy the right to use veto. They are Iran, US and Najaf,” a key negotiator of Al-Sadr’s negotiation team told Arab News.

“One ‘no’ is enough to exclude any candidate. Not only that, Sadr and Amiri also have their conditions and we still have difficulty reconciling all of them.”

The marathon negotiations, which run every day until late at night, finally reached a shortlist for prime minister.

The three names reached were Adel Abdul Mahdi, a former leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Falih Al-Fayadh, the former national security adviser, and Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the head of the intelligence service.

Adel Abdul Mahdi was the chosen one, three negotiators from different sides told Arab News.

“We have agreed to nominate Adel Abdul Mahdi as he is the only one who was approved by the three sides (Iran, the US and Najaf),” an Al-Sadr negotiator told Arab News.