Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Analysts at consulting firm tied to Hillary Clinton are often critical of military action against ISIS

Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes argued that US government "demon[ized]" the terror group

Intelligence analysts who work for Teneo - a worldwide consultant firm with strong ties to the Clintons, since two of its co-founders were fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and the third, former President Bill Clinton "body man" Doug Band, "was part of the negotiation team that handled all aspects of Hillary Clinton’s becoming Secretary of State - are often quoted by the US media after terrorist attacks, but the company is very secretive about what clients it represents. Since the attacks on France on Friday the 13th of November, Teneo Intelligence analysts have been quoted at numerous media outlets regarding the terrorist group ISIS, such as Managing Director Crispin Hawes, who I reported about yesterday.

A Teneo Insight essay [Editor's Note: Teneo scrubbed the html link some time on November 20, perhaps because they posted a new one, that expresses similar views, but here's a pdf link to it] called "MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA:THE ISIS THREAT" written by Crispin Hawes published in September of 2014 shows how the firm has often been critical of military action against ISIS. Its bullet points are "ISIS has achieved its intention of provoking US and western engagement in Iraq", "Militarily it will struggle to match the forces now committed against it but will continue to pose a security threat", and "The harder task for Western governments will be to address the growing problem of radicalization within Muslim communities, a problem that will be fueled by western military action against ISIS."

Yesterday morning, on Bloomberg Television’s "The Pulse", Hawes "discuss[ed] the market reaction to the attacks in Paris and what it may mean politically for the whole of France." The Teneo Intelligence Managing Director opined that there isn't an "obvious policy solution", other than "air strikes", but "no Nato member" will likely send "ground troops into Iraq and Syria any time soon and, without that, ISIS will continue to be the standard-bearer of Islamic radicalism." A number of "western security agencies have foiled plots" but the "unfortunate truth is that" attackers "only need to succeed once, while security providers need a 100 percent success rate," Hawes noted, rather obviously. Ten months ago, during an interview on CNBC after a terrorist attack in Paris, Hawes pretty much said the same thing: "That it only takes one to succeed." Yesterday, when asked specifically what would happen if ground troops were deployed and successful against ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Hawes said that "destroying that territorial control" wouldn't be enough to wipe out Islamicist activity, but offered no original thoughts on the matter.

Last December, Hawes wrote, "US President Barack Obama’s speech on 10 September, 2014 has cemented the reaction of NATO leaders in recent days to the decision of 'The Islamic State' jihadist group to behead two US nationals and distribute videos of their execution. While the president will have taken this decision publicly to target and threaten the organization reluctantly, this is precisely the reaction that the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) was seeking and its leadership will welcome the commitment to greater US involvement. The additional threat to kill a UK national also being held in Syria is intended to push UK politicians to cooperate with the US in military action against the group. ISIS’ leaders will be hoping that greater US engagement in Iraq will reinforce its appeal amongst its target constituencies and give the conflict greater resonance around the Muslim world by characterizing the conflict in Iraq and Syria as part of a wider war between Sunni Islam and its antagonists."

In the next paragraph, the Managing Director for the Intelligence division of a firm that once employed former US President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton's longtime aide, Huma Abedin - while she still worked at the State Department and who now is the vice chair for the former Secretary of State's 2016 presidential campaign - as consultants, again, argues that talking tough about ISIS makes them grow stronger: "Obama’s well-trialed speech has completed the group’s meteoric rise to become the world’s most prominent jihadist organization – for 2014 at least. This prominence was inconceivable as recently as 2011 when the group had lost most of its leaders, while 12 months ago it was only one, although perhaps the best-organized, of a number of similar militias fighting the Syrian civil war. Now, having adjusted its nomenclature on the basis of its current domination of areas of eastern Syria and somewhat more tenuous control of parts of northwestern Iraq, the extremist jihadist ISIS has officially become the latest canvas onto which the region’s major actors – both within and beyond its borders – can paint their chosen nightmares."

In the third paragraph, Hawes argues that the US government has demonized the terror group. "Thanks to the brutal and public killings of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, ISIS has now supplanted Al Qaeda in the US’ demonology of extremist groups but it had already occupied a similar position for a growing number of Middle Eastern states."

(Editor's Note: In 2010, when I was Executive Editor of RAW STORY, James Foley contacted us while embedded with the US troops in Afghanistan, and I convinced the owner that we should commission some of his articles. I edited one of Foley's articles - "In Kunar province, civilian deaths from Special Forces turn some Afghans against US" - myself, and assigned other staff members to work with him on other RAW STORY exclusives. "One Iraq veteran’s harrowing journey from the battlefield to suicide" and "Iraq vet, rattled by IEDs, ‘carried Ziploc bags full of pills’" are two other examples of Foley's work for RAW STORY.)

According to Hawes, ISIS "dragged US forces back into direct military involvement in Iraq", and "in UK and in other parts of Europe the media is convulsed by the possible threat posed by the apparent attraction ISIS offers to radicalized British Muslims, at least several hundred of whom are believed to be fighting with the group. Now ISIS’ decision to behead two US nationals has ensured its elevation to a new status as the West’s 'Public Enemy Number One'"

That "convuls[ion] and "possible threat" obviously was realized last Friday, when ISIS-linked terrorists killed over 120 people in France.

"But is ISIS really a strategic threat and if so, to whom?" Hawes asks, before conceding it is one. But then he quickly adds that its "battlefield successes and "prominence", along with "the professed enmity of the US" would "help in securing the assistance of allies."

Many Teneo consultants have criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which, perhaps, might be related to thwarted business schemes by some of its clients. Kevin Roland, Managing Director at Teneo Strategy, once "served as the Trade and Investment Team Leader at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2008-2009, working with Iraqi government, industry and foreign investors." Hawes continues the trend by essentially blaming the two government for allowing ISIS to reach "its current position of strength".

In June of 2014, another widely quoted Managing Director at Teneo Intelligence who used to consult for the Eurasia Group - Wolfango Piccoli - told CNBC Maliki is now paying the price for his often-combative approach to regional and international relations. At this juncture his inability or unwillingness to develop personal relationships is proving a weakness."

Last November, Bloomberg News reported, "The surge in violence across northern and central Iraq, three years after U.S. troops withdrew, has raised the prospect of a return to sectarian civil war in OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government is struggling to retain control of Sunni-majority regions, and his army units in northern Iraq collapsed in the face of the Islamist advance."

Hawes told Bloomberg News, "This can’t be looked at as anything other than a comprehensive failure by the Iraqi army. If the army can’t protect Mosul, how are they going to protect other cities, like Baiji. Moving southward would be the logical thing to do for ISIL." However, just a few weeks ago, as Michael R. Gordon reported for the New York Times, "Iraqi forces and the Shiite militias fighting alongside them announced Friday that they had retaken the oil refinery at Baiji from Islamic State militants, in some of the first significant progress against the extremist group after months of stalled efforts."

"The American-led coalition said that it had carried out numerous airstrikes at Baiji to weaken the militants as the Iraqi forces moved in," Gordon added. "A coalition spokesman said Thursday that there had been 43 airstrikes in Baiji over the past 30 days."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated a willingness to work with the US and France to retaliate against ISIS for the Paris attacks, but Teneo analysts have been arguing that his ties to Syrian President Assad will put a crimp in any cooperation on joint military strikes.

On Tuesday, The Chicago Tribune reported, "Coordination with Russia will be hampered by 'Moscow's unchanged long-term goal of sustaining' the Assad government, Carsten Nickel, an analyst at political-risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence, said in an email. Moreover, the risk remains of flare-ups in Ukraine that could 'help to re-ignite the conflict as soon as Moscow and the West seem to re-align their interests on Syria,' Nickel said." According to his Teneo bio, Senior Vice President for the Intelligence division Carsten Nickel used to be a consultant at the Eurasia Group, too.

One day after this article was published, on November 19, 2015, yet another Teneo Intelligence consultant who once worked for the Eurasia Group - Senior Vice President Otilia Dhand - was interviewed on Bloomberg Television's "Countdown" about "the changing relationship between Russia and the West over the fight against the Islamic State." Dhand said that Russia's aim was "strategic" and that it hoped to capitalize on the Paris attacks by portraying itself as a similar victim of ISIS, but that one of the issues that would be "difficult to compromise" with the US and UN would be the "non-negotiable aim of stabilizing the regime" of the Assad government.

As noted above, many Teneo consultants previously worked for the Eurasia Group, which some conservatives claim is tied to Clinton Foundation donor George Soros. The billionaire gave at least $1 million to "Priorities USA Action, a super PAC dedicated to airing ads supporting [Hillary] Clinton and attacking her opponents, Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel reported in July. Cliff Kupchan, who joined the Eurasia Group in 2005 was named chairman in October of 2014, and he once "held a senior position at the State Department, where he served as deputy coordinator of US assistance to Eurasia during the Clinton administration."

At least eleven Teneo employees hail from the Eurasia Group: Antonio Barroso, Wolfango Piccoli, Kevin Kajiwara, Carsten Nickel, Crispin Hawes, Anne Frühauf, Bob Herrera-Lim, Peter Hsieh, Marc Mercer, Otilia Dhand, and Alexandra Rogan.

According to, some analysts at Eurasia Group - which claims to be "the world’s leading political risk advisory and consulting firm" - earned close to $140,000 a year. The Wikipedia entry for Eurasia Group claims it generates $75-100M a year, while Glass Door claims only $1 to $5M. However, the latter appears to be outdated since it only lists 50 employees for the consulting firm, while the former claims 150 full-time and 500 part-time staff members.

In 2011, Bank of America "struck a deal with Eurasia Group to deliver the political-risk consultancy’s analysis to wealth-management clients and develop investment portfolios based on its opinion on geopolitical events."

"Under the accord, BofA’s 20,000 Merrill Lynch and US Trust advisers will have access to Eurasia’s global research," Justin Baer reported for the Financial Times on February 16, 2011. "The bank will also host conference calls with the consultancy’s analysts. Terms were not disclosed."

According to SourceWatch, "Eurasia Group used to publish a partial list of clients on its website, but no longer does." The most recent list from 2005 as shown at the Internet Archive included Amerada Hess Corporation, Bechtel, ChevronTexaco Corporation, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil and the Shell Corporation.

Teneo earned $3.4M in 2011 just from one of its first clients, the Rockefeller Foundation, as I previously reported. It's even more secretive about its clients and revenue than Eurasia Group, since only around 10 to 15 are known.

SourceWatch doesn't have an entry for Teneo. Lisa Graves, the Executive Director at the Center for Media and Democracy - which operates PRWatch, ALECexposed, KochExposed, and Source Watch - "formerly served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, during President Bill Clinton's administration.

[Editor's Note: Eurasia Group was reportedly launched by its founder, journalist Ian Bremmer, with only $25,000, and while its funding is secretive, I couldn't find any evidence - except his appearance at a 2002 summit debate - that Soros is linked to it.]


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