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Letter: Defence and Foreign Affairs analysis: Fact or fake news?
Published on February 15, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

A group or organization called Defence & Foreign Affairs published what is referred to as a special analysis on the alleged Dominica passport scandal and Iran sanctions. The author is Mr Gregory R Copley. I do not intend to respond to the speculation on the alleged sales of passports. This is simply baseless, and I have written and said enough. Also, the allegation of alleged spying by the PROC, etc. to undermine the USA and the creation of a Third Border is also pure right wing fiction. The strong bond between Dominica and the USA is well documented and well known locally and regionally.

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There are however other remarkable things about this analysis which struck me. The first was the complete absence of objective fact or verifiable evidence in the analysis. The second was that the allegations had familiar rings to them. They sounded remarkably similar to the allegations made by Thomson Fontaine, Gabriel Christian, Lennox Linton and others in Dominica (the Dominican connection). I wondered why this was so until an exchange of emails occurred on 4th January 2017. The third is that the crux of Copley’s Analysis, alleged spying and massive sanctions busting, appears to be based on alternative facts provided to him.

The hint of fake news

On 4th February 2017 a Dominica businessman Mr Peter Karam wrote an email commenting on the similarity of the allegations in the Special Analysis to about 90 persons. In this email Mr Karam wrote

‘Folks,
This little statement sounds confusing from The report,
and (b) it is probable that much of the Iranian oil was shipped to Iran.
Does that make sense? how can Iran atatempt to bypass sanctions on the sale of their oil, put it on Dominica registered oil tankers an den ship their own oil back to dem selves,,, awah!!’
(The errors are Mr Karam’s).

Thomson Fontaine, a senator appointed by the opposition United Workers Party, and manufacturer of allegations in Dominica, immediately replied to Mr Karam. He said:

‘Peter that's a typo they meant China’

In other words, Fontaine’s response to Mr Karam was that he knew Mr Copley has erred, and was in fact alleging oil was being shipped from Iran to China, and not to Iran. This therefore meant Fontaine knew of an alleged ‘typo’, and that Copley was in fact alleging Iranian oil was being shipped to China from Iran by Dominica ships registered or administered in Greece in breach of the US oil embargo, and sanctions law. This was the clear inference from Fontaine’s email.

This was not surprising because a few days earlier Fontaine had himself written, and made, the same allegation in Dominica. But Fontaine’s knowledge of a possible typo by Gregory R Copley begs the questions: (i) How did Fontaine know there was a typo? and (ii) Did Fontaine provide the allegations to Copley, or did he collaborate on the article?

Oil sanctions; China exempted since 2012

Significantly, Copley appears to repeat the same unsubstantiated oil sanctions allegation made by Fontaine earlier. The allegation was made notwithstanding the fact that China was not subject to the Iranian oil embargo imposed by the United States from at least 2012. China and 10 or 11 other counties were exempted by Secretary Clinton from the Iranian oil embargo in 2012. [See for example (i) Wall Street Journal; (ii) Financial Times; and (iii) International Business Times].

This exemption by Secretary of State Clinton means that the purchase by, and transportation of Iranian oil to China, could not possibly be in violation of the embargo or United States sanctions law. This 2012 exemption was and is 'public knowledge,” and articles are still on the WWW.

No Dominican vessel registered or administered in Greece

The other surprising allegation repeated or made by Copley was that vessels flying the Dominican flag registered and administered in Greece were part and parcel of this massive violation of the US embargo and US sanctions law. This is also false for the additional reason that no ship or vessel flying the Dominica flag has ever been registered or 'administered’ in Greece since at least 2000.

There is a simple explanation. In 1999 the UWP government granted a 30-year exclusive maritime contract to an American. This agreement requires that all ships flying the Dominican flag must be registered and administered in the United States of America. It therefore prohibits the registration or administration of ships with Dominica’s flag anywhere other than in the United States. Additionally, black or other lists of sanctions breakers were published annually by the US. These were, and are, available online. Dominica was not mentioned in any of the lists.

Copley relies expressly on Thomson Fontaine

The similarities between Mr Copley’s Analysis, and the propaganda of the Dominican connection appear to be supported by the footnotes relied on by Mr Copley. Footnote is FN 5 is perhaps the most revealing. It reads

"1. The tankers were, according to website TheDominica.net, typically around 20 years of age, and all at least were purchased second hand. The vessels along with their International Maritime Organization (IMO) numbers were named as Ocean Concord (9052874), Ocean Emerald (9002207), Ocean Gurnard (9123881), Ocean Kite (9129201), Ocean Manta (9123867), Ocean Marlin (9126895), Ocean Moray (9123870) Ocean Osprey (9150652), Ocean Princess (8601496), Ocean Seal (9113094), and Ocean Swift (9129213). "

Simply put, it means Mr Gregory R Copley relied on an allegation made by Fontaine to repeat or make, in whole or in part, the wholly false allegation of sanction busting by Dominica.

TS Erika never happened?

This is not all. Earlier in his Analysis Copley had written:

“Significantly, the Dominican GDP had declined after 2014, and much of the traditional agricultural export sector no longer functioned as it had done in earlier years. The Skerrit Government had ignored agricultural development, the dominant source of Dominican employment and exports, and relied instead on funds from the ‘economic citizenship’.”

Where or from who could this have come from? Agricultural development was never ignored. The real reason why Dominica’s GDP was nearly wiped out 'after 2014' was because of Tropical Storm Erika (TS Erika), which struck in August 2015. The post TS Erika assessment by the government and World Bank indicated that in one night in August 2015 Dominica lost over 90% of its GDP. This is an indisputable fact. However, as the prime minister disclosed in the Parliament in June 2016, the government was able to use ready revenues received from the CBI program to expedite the construction and recovery of our destroyed country. As a result, the net loss in the following financial year was 3 to 5% of GDP.

Repeating Gabriel Christian’s misinformation; coincidence?

Copley also wrote:

“The public focus of the scandal -- but not the breadth of the strategic activity -- was the ‘Dominica Economic Citizenship Program’, which actually began in 1993, and by which, under Dominican law, foreign citizens could acquire Dominican citizenship for $100,000. The volume of sales of these ‘citizenships’ is now, however, undocumented and no substantive numbers have been revealed, but was of sufficient concern that it could ensure that the ruling party could call on sufficient numbers of ‘new citizens’ at any time to skew political voting. The sale of diplomatic passports involved substantially larger payments, and most of the funds were diverted away from the government’s coffers.”

This is a homegrown allegation, and part of the opposition playbook for years. It is false. For example, for the last ten years or more revenues collected are line items and disclosed and published in the Estimates of Revenues and Expenditure of the government; and the names of all persons granted citizens are published in the Official Gazette.

Additionally, it was Gabriel Christian who first alleged that the government intended to fly these economic citizens to Dominica to vote, a factual and legal impossibility under our election laws. Somehow, Mr Gregory R Copley repeats or inserts the very same allegation in his Analysis even though it collides frontally with the election laws of Dominica. [See Dominica Vibes]

Conclusion

There ought to be no question therefore that Mr Copley was misled by one, some or all of the Dominican connection. I could go on. But I think I have said enough to show that Copley was misled by ‘fake news’, and the thrust of his Special Analysis (sanction busting by Dominica) is inaccurate and false.

Anthony W Astaphan SC
 
Reads: 2750





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Comments:

Michael:

Australian Gregory Copley is President of the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), based in Washington, DC. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Defense & Foreign Affairs publications, and the Global Information System (GIS): he wrote the book - The Art of Victory.

The book was reviewed none other than By Gabriel J. Christian on July 9, 2015 - Excellent and thought provoking book: Greg Copley uses mastery of language, combined with a keen sense of history, culture, geography, and an overall understanding of human nature to illustrate that in all species of things, leadership must inspire based on acute wisdom and knowledge, or ultimately fail. His statement that new states, especially those in the post-WWII period, must preserve and transform legacy institutions to develop their own brand for success is wise. Those post colonial states which have discarded the institutions of the colonial power, without mastering the art/science of governance etc., have literally thrown out the baby with the bath water. Excellent and thought provoking book!

This review can be found @ https://www.amazon.com/Art-Victory-Strategies-Personal-Survival/dp/1416524789

Thank you

Leighton R JAMES:

Writing Endlessly Without Say Much!!

Intellectual omission is a hallmark of SPIN.

1) China Exemption from Iranian Oil Sanctions - The Iran Sanction did not mean Iran could not sell oil; No!. It limited the quantity that Iran could sell; Iran oil export was reduced by fifty percent. The exemption was Quantity and Time-dependent Exemption had to be renewed every 180 Days. The Chinese consistently objected to this constraint. Sanction-busting was a means of surpassing these restrictions and China consistently exceeded the quantity permitted, except when disputes developed because Iran decided to charge China a higher premium for its oil in order to meet Iran bottom-line.

2) Greek Registered Vessels - Stating there were no registered Greek Vessels proves nothing if the process was done clandestinely. Sanction also restricted the number of ships and tankers that Iran could use (through Insurance Restriction), thus limiting the quantity of oil and other good that could be shipped from Iran. Using ships from other countries to transport Iranian Oil and other goods was a critical means of busting this limitation. Most interestingly, under the UN, US and European Union Sanctions Regime, Malaysia and Singapore were both prohibited from purchasing Iranian Oil.

By the way, why does Dominica need an Embassy in Greece and vise versa? How does it benefit the ordinary Dominican? What sorts of Commercial transaction occur between the two countries? I suspect it is some sort of 'Financial Shenanigan' from which locals from neither countries benefited. Remember the Greek Financial Crisis and the reasons that precipitated said crisis. It was not just a Pension-mediated crisis.

3) TS Erika - It did occur. However, Dominica's Economy was doing poorly prior to TS Ericka. Mr. Astaphan should refer to all the Regional Analyses (Tourism, Agricultural and Manufacturing Output, Foreign Direct Investment etc) that were released before TS Ericka; 'Nothing from Nothing leaves Nothing'. Mr. Astaphan, Roosevelt Skerrit and their circle of Benefactors are constantly peddling this nonsense to the outside world. It is simple False!!

Leighton R JAMES

Dr. Kermit D. Frog,Phd.,:

Anthony W. Astaphan has been chasing down every article, blog, vlog and news item that exposes his puppet Prime Minister . Astaphan, however, is fighting a losing battle trying to comment and respond to any and everyone who mentions MONFARED, SKERRIT, DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT, IRAN, CHINA, SANCTIONS or CORRUPTION!!! Maybe because the “BLESSING” that was placed on the red Labour Ka Twavay Tshirts, hats and umbrellas (marked with the number 666) is finally wearing off after the free brainwashing concerts of the last election. Astaphan’s spins and lies are definitely falling on deaf ears. Dismissing every news story as fake news or trying to discredit anyone that writes about the above-mentioned subjects; accusing them of colluding with Opposition Members, etc., simply does not cut it. Anthony, AREN’T YOU THE ONE THAT ALWAYS ASKS FOR PROOF? Where is YOUR proof now? Why should ANYONE believe you? Because you’re a rich SENIOR COUNSEL of ARABIAN descent? LOL!

Mr. Anthony W. Astaphan's makes no sense. He blames locals here at home, particularly Thompson Fountaine, for feeding this information to Mr. Gregory Copley, a man who is very knowledgeable on foreign affairs matter and highly respected in Washington D.C.. Then, he accuses Mr. Copley of being "shockingly irresponsible" for "repeating an allegation". Where is Mr. Astaphan's proof of this? Mr. Astaphan is guilty of doing the very thing he is accusing others of doing.

First, he tries to discredit Kenneth Rijock and accused him of colluding with the United Workers Party, Dominica's Official Opposition. He also accused Mr. Rijock of being on a "smear campaign". Now, he is attempting to do the same with Mr. Copley absent any proof or evidence. Astaphan's credibility borders on either utter stupidity or a complete lack of morals and legal ethics.

The fact that more and more international media and informed persons are exposing the Prime Minister's role in the activities of Alireza Zahabalat Monfared must be driving Anthony W. Astaphan insane. He attributes Thompson Fountaine's guess that Copley's mention of oil being shipped to Iran was a typo and that he (Copley) actually meant China as proof that Thompson and Copley are collaborating. My God, Anthony W. Astaphan is laughable!!! Anthony I can easily say that the "China and 10 or 11 other [counties]" that you stated above was a typo and that you meant to say "COUNTRIES" not COUNTIES. Mr. Astaphan is truly grasping for straws on this one.

Astaphan then runs on with China's exception from the Iran Sanctions as if that automatically prevents China from purchasing black market oil at bargain prices. Then, finally, he concludes with some tidbit about a 1999 exclusive contract with an American (no name provided) that requires all ships carrying the Dominican Flag to be registered in the United States as if that automatically erases the fact that there are 11 oil tankers flying Dominican Flags and that at least one of these tankers were intercepted by the Government of Vietnam while carrying illegal oil. Anthony Astaphan thinks he is smarter than everybody else. Tony, the registration of the ships were NEVER an issue. What the ships were being used for IS!!!

Anthony W. Astaphan, maybe it will only take the arrest of your puppet Prime Minister, Roosevelt M. Skerrit, for you to come clean and stop the spins and lies but as of right now please don't believe you're fooling anyone! And, yes, rest assured, Skerrit will answer to the Trump Administration sooner than you think. By then, don't think you will be safe in your plush Weston, Florida home after the damage you have done to Dominica and the Dominican People with your mouth and frivolous lawsuits. Anthony W. Astaphan the world is watching you!!! Be very careful.

Louis Bernard:

The only propagandist that could come close to that senior clown (SC) Anthony Astaphan of Lebanese decent was Paul Joseph Goebbels a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, to whom Astaphan bears a physical resemblance.

Anthony’s sole purpose in life is to defend the corruption of the criminal enterprise that passes as a government in Dominica, thereby protecting his source of income, and now that his sister is a passport selling agent, he has become more rabid.

His hatred of people of African descent is well known and documented, except those he can use and abuse. This man calls every and anyone who will not bow to him a liar, but he has cases pending in the Dominican court for slandering and defaming the character of another attorney. Mr. Astaphan is yet to tell us what is or was Skerrit’ role in allegedly assisting or aiding and comfort in the Iran sanction busting, and how was it that the Skerrit cabal refused to provide requested information on persons who held diplomatic passports, as well as all appointed ambassadors when asked in the parliament by the opposition? How does he explain that six persons so far have been arrested and charged with serious criminal charges, were all in possession of Dominica Diplomatic Passports, at the time of their arrest, and can he also tell us under what conditions and or basis upon which he himself holds a diplomatic passport?

Michael:

Dear Sir: Do you wise folks at CNN have a horse in the horse race in Dominica? I asked because comment to this article sent last evening is yet to be published.


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