NEW YORK — Secretary of Defense James Mattis is confirmed to speak at the annual conference of a George Soros-financed think tank that is also funded by the controversial Ploughshares Fund, identified by the Obama White House as central to helping sell the Iran nuclear deal to the public and news media.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which has been heavily supportive of the Iran agreement, announced on its website that Mattis will lead a session of the IISS Manama Dialogue, which will take place in Bahrain from December 8–10, 2017.
“He and other leading policymakers from the region and beyond will gather to examine the Middle East’s most pressing security questions,” the IISS website says of Mattis’ role in the conference.
IISS has other ties to senior Trump administration officials. From September 2006 to February 2017, White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was listed as a member of the IISS, where he served as consulting senior fellow.
Besides taking in direct financing from Soros’s Open Society institute and the Ploughshares Fund, which itself is financed by Soros, Breitbart News recently reported that IISS is heavily bankrolled by multinational corporate firms doing billions of dollars in business with Iran.
IISS also quietly took in about $32.5 million in funding from Bahrain, a country whose constitution explicitly enshrines Sharia Islamic law as the governing doctrine. The funding from Bahrain, a repressive regime with a dismal human rights track record but also an important regional U.S. ally, reportedly amounted to one quarter of the think tank’s total income.
A significant portion of the Bahraini funding reportedly pays for the Manama Dialogue, where Mattis is slated to speak. The original agreement between IISS and Bahrain to finance the conference contained a clause calling for the memorandum of understanding to remain confidential, according to the document, which was leaked by a watchdog and published by the Guardian newspaper last year.
Defending Iran Deal
The IISS describes itself as a “world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict.”
The think tank has repeatedly hit back against charges that Tehran has violated the nuclear agreement while urging President Trump to recertify the deal, a move the president refused to make last week in the face of an October 15 recertification deadline.
Two weeks ago, the IISS declared that Trump has “no substantive grounds” for declining to certify the U.S.-brokered international nuclear deal with Iran.
Last month, Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the IISS Americas section, authored a piece on the IISS website arguing that the Iran nuclear deal is “working” and “policing Iran at gunpoint” – in other words, anytime, anywhere inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites – is a dangerous path.
Soros-Funded Group Helped Obama Sell Iran Nuclear Deal
Breitbart News reported that one IISS donor is the controversial Ploughshares Fund, a Soros-funded nonprofit identified by the Obama White House as central to helping sell the Iran nuclear deal to the public and news media. Soros’s Open Society is also a direct donor to IISS.
Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, is also listed as a member of IISS in his Georgetown University bio.
The Soros-financed Ploughshares’ involvement in selling the Iran agreement to the public was revealed in an extensive New York Times Magazine profile of Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, titled, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru.” The article contains interviews with Rhodes and scores of top Obama administration officials.
Robert Malley, then a senior director at the National Security Council, expounded on the genesis and execution of the marketing plan to sell the Iran deal.
Malley explained to the Times that “experts” were utilized to create an “echo chamber” that disseminated administration claims about Iran to “hundreds of often-clueless reporters” in the news media.
Times author David Samuels wrote:
In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
Rhodes told Samuels that the marketing strategy took advantage of the “absence of rational discourse” and utilized outside groups, including Ploughshares.
When I suggested that all this dark metafictional play seemed a bit removed from rational debate over America’s future role in the world, Rhodes nodded. “In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this,” he said. “We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked.” He is proud of the way he sold the Iran deal. “We drove them crazy,” he said of the deal’s opponents.
Ploughshares says it has awarded hundreds of grants “whose aggregate value exceeded $60 million.”
A previous investigation by this reporter showed Ploughshares has partnered with a who’s-who of the radical left, including Code Pink, the pro-Palestinian J Street, United for Peace & Justice, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Demos, a progressive economic advisory group where Obama’s controversial former green jobs czar, Van Jones, has served on the board.
The group says its mission is to support the “smartest minds and most effective organizations to reduce nuclear stockpiles, prevent new nuclear states and increase global security.”
Ploughshares is in turn financed by Soros’s Open Society Institute, the Buffett Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Another Ploughshares donor is the Tides Foundation, which is one of the largest funders of the radical left. Tides is funded by Soros.
Ploughshares has donated to the Institute for Policy Studies, which calls for massive cuts in the U.S. defense budget.
IISS Group Scrubs — then Re-Adds — Soros Financing From Website
As Breitbart News reported, the IISS added Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the Soros-financed Ploughshares group to the list of donors on its website in response to a request from this reporter on the matter.
During a recent Breitbart News investigation, neither the Open Society or Ploughshares were listed on the IISS website page titled “Our Funding” despite this reporter finding literature from those two groups documenting their financing of IISS. Also, both groups were listed in an archived version of the same IISS donor’s page.
Following a request for comment, both the Open Society and Ploughshares groups were added back to the IISS donor page.
Immediately following the additions, Breitbart News sent a request for comment about the additions to the website and received the following reply:
As well as the Open Society Foundation, we also accidentally removed the Carnegie, McArthur, and James Foundations, as well as a number of governments and corporate supporters, when we updated the page ten days ago. Your question brought this to our attention and the listing has now been corrected.
Corporations Doing Billions in Iran Business
IISS, meanwhile, is heavily bankrolled by multinational corporate firms doing billions of dollars in business in Iran.
The business deals are up for regulation by the U.S. government and the transactions are in direct jeopardy if the Trump administration further sanctions Iran or declares Tehran in violation of the international nuclear accord.
Here is a list of some IISS corporate sponsors doing business with firms in Iran:
- Airbus (provided between $130,350 and $651,748 to IISS)
In June, two Iranian airlines made prospective deals with Europe-based Airbus — described as memorandums of understanding — to purchase 73 jetliners in deals reportedly worth as much as $2.5 billion. The deals are permissible because of the easing of sanctions under the Obama administration-brokered 2015 nuclear accord with Iran.
The New York Times reported that aspects of the Iranian firms’ purchases of Airbus planes are subject to U.S. government regulation.
The Times reported:
Iran’s Airtour Airline intends to buy 45 upgraded versions of the A320 jet, and Zagros Airlines intends to buy 20 upgraded A320s and eight upgraded A330s. …
The deals are permitted under the 2015 nuclear agreement Iran reached with six major powers, which relaxed sanctions in return for Iran’s verifiable pledges of peaceful nuclear work. But the deals — even for the Airbuses — still must be licensed by the United States government because many components and technology in the aircraft are made in the United States and are subject to export control regulations.
The agreements with two Iranian companies to purchase 73 Airbus jets follows another purchase by IranAir of 180 Airbus jets that was downgraded to 100 jets last December at an estimated value of about $10 billion.
- Boeing Company (provided between $130,350 and $651,748 to IISS)
Another top IISS donor, Boeing Company, the world’s largest aerospace company, inked a $3 billion contract last December to sell 30 737 Max jets to Aseman Airlines, a firm whose largest owner is the government-run Iran National Pension Fund.
That deal was made possible by the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. And like other deals with Iranian companies, it is subject to U.S. government approval.
“Boeing continues to follow the lead of the U.S. government with regards to working with Iran’s airlines, and any and all contracts with Iran’s airlines are contingent upon U.S. government approval,” a Boeing spokeswoman told Reuters in response to reports that the U.S. Treasury has been reviewing licenses for the Boeing deal with Iran.
- Total SA (provided between $32,591 and $130,349 to IISS)
Total SA, the French multinational oil and gas company, is a donor to IISS. Last month, Total SA and a Chinese oil firm signed a $5 billion agreement with Iran to develop a massive offshore natural gas field.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh singled out the energy agreement as “one of the outcomes of the nuclear deal and recent presidential election” and said the agreement would lead to “more than $5 billion in foreign investments.”
The AP reported on the deal:
Iran on Monday signed a $5 billion agreement with France’s Total SA and a Chinese oil company to develop its massive offshore natural gas field, the first such deal with foreign companies since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Officials met in Tehran and signed the agreement, which will see the firms develop a portion of the massive South Pars offshore field that Iran shares with Qatar. Qatar calls the same area the North Field and it provides the small country, now in the middle of a diplomatic crisis with four other Arab states, its incredible wealth.
Total has a 50.1-percent share in the new Iran deal. The state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. has 30-percent stake and Iran’s Petropars has 19.9 percent.
“This is a major agreement for Total, which officially marks our return to Iran to open a new page in the history of our partnership with the country,” Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement. “Total will develop the project in strict compliance with applicable national and international laws.”
Foreign Policy magazine reported that Total’s approval of the $5 billion deal was heavily influenced by the Trump administration’s decision in April to certify Iran as complying with the nuclear deal:
But several developments this spring apparently gave Total reason to suspect that Trump’s bark might be worse than his bite. One was the administration’s decision in April to certify to Congress that Iran remained in compliance with all its obligations under the JCPOA — despite repeated violations of some of the deal’s key constraints regarding things like stocks of heavy water (begrudgingly, the Trump team issued its second report certifying Iran’s JCPOA compliance Tuesday night). That was followed by the decision in late May, in response to another congressional deadline, to continue the Obama administration’s policy of granting certain sanctions relief to Iran, as called for in the JCPOA.
- BP International Ltd. (provided between $32,591 and $130,349 to IISS)
Last year, BP International, another IISS donor, was granted a license by the U.S. Treasury Department to operate a joint gas field in the North Sea following the removal of European Union and United Nations sanctions on Iran.
While BP earlier this year decided not to take part in first wave agreements to develop oil and gas reserves in Iran, the firm reportedly opened a representative office in the Islamic republic. And last November, BP created an executive committee to explore business in Iran. BP also purchased condensate from the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company last year following the sanctions removal.
- Shell International Ltd. (provided between $32,591 and $130,349 to IISS)
Shell International Ltd., which donated to IISS, operates as a subsidiary of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.
Reuters reported that while Shell has been cautious about Iranian oil buys, it has done some deals in Iran since the sanctions were relieved.
The news agency reported:
Shell said in its annual report it had bought only three cargoes of Iranian oil over the past year.
These were a $45 million cargo in May, on which it made a profit of $1.1 million, followed by 2 cargoes in December costing $103 million and $106 million respectively. Those are still in transit so no profit or loss has been yet made on them, Shell said.
During the course of 2016, Shell also repaid $1.942 billion in debts to Iran for oil purchases it made before stricter EU sanctions were imposed on Iran in 2012.
Funded by Sharia-Ruled Bahrain — Up to 25% of Total Income
IISS quietly took in about $32.5 million in funding from Bahrain.
The “donor” section of IISS’s website lists the “Kingdom of Bahrain” as a major host nation, but no monetery amount is publicly revealed. The Bahrain Economic Development Board is listed in the highest category of donations on the webpage – those who provided more than £500,000 (over $650,000).
Last December, the Guardian obtained confidential documents from a watchdog showing IISS “secretly” received £25 million (about $32.5 million) from the Bahraini royal family during the previous five years.
The UK newspaper reported that the Bahraini donations amounted to 25 percent of IISS’s income and included significant funding to the group’s Manama Dialogue events in the kingdom. The funding for the dialogue was reportedly meant to remain confidential.
The newspaper reported:
Confidential documents seen by the Guardian show that the country’s repressive rulers donated the sum to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) over the last five years.
The documents also reveal that IISS and the Bahraini royals agreed to “take all necessary steps” to keep most of the donations secret. The Bahrain donations make up more than a quarter of IISS’s income.
The Bahraini donations have been used to fund an IISS office in the country, and to pay for annual conferences on Middle East politics attended by heads of state and other powerful figures. The three-day gatherings in the Gulf island state are called the “Manama Dialogue.”
Bahrain Watch, an independent organization seeking to promote democracy in Bahrain, provided the documents to the Guardian.
According to the cited documents, which are fully viewable online, IISS agreed with Bahrain’s ruling family to keep the kingdom’s funding of the think tank’s Manama Dialogue strictly confidential. Those funds amounted to over $19 million since 2011, according to the documents.
IISS has been holding the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain for over a decade. The next event slated to take place in Manama is being billed under a different name, the Bahrain Bay Forum.
In 2013, IISS and Bahrain further signed a memorandum of understanding for $3.3 million per year to keep an office in Manama for a decade, the documents show.
That agreement, obtained by the Guardian, stated:
The Kingdom of Bahrain and the IISS jointly recognize the huge success of the establishment of a regional headquarters for the IISS in Bahrain as well as the mutual benefits that such a presence offers.
In response to the Guardian expose, IISS did not deny the Bahraini funding. The think tank released a statement that Bahrain’s regime “expressly gives the IISS full freedom to develop the agenda and invite participants in line with priorities it judges to be important to encourage strong debate on regional issues and facilitate important diplomatic contacts.”
“The IISS for a number of years has received funding from a wide range of governments for conferences and major international summits,” IISS added.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, Aaron Klein Investigative Radio. Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.