Sunday, April 18

Burma | A Montreal lobbyist hired by the junta

Ari Ben-Menashe, a Montreal-based lobbyist who has worked for several authoritarian regimes, has just been hired by the Burma Defense Ministry to advocate for the interests of the Burmese military junta with various key international actors, including the Biden administration.

Mayssa FerahMayssa Ferah

This information was revealed on Friday by the American media Foreign Lobby and then relayed by the Jerusalem Post. On Saturday, the Israeli-Canadian lobbyist told Reuters that the Burmese generals wanted to leave the political arena after their coup. They would seek – again according to Mr. Ben-Menashe – to improve their relations with the United States and to distance themselves from China.

Mr. Ben-Menashe did not respond to an interview request from Press Saturday, sent by phone and text message.

He told Reuters on Saturday morning that he had signed a deal with the Burmese military junta and maintained that a certain sum would be paid to him if sanctions against the military were lifted.

The United States announced Thursday that “sensitive” exports to Burma will be subject to increased controls. These measures are in addition to the financial sanctions already imposed on the heads of the military junta. A call for a global embargo on arms deliveries has also been launched.

Ari Ben-Menashe said he had been tasked with promoting a plan to repatriate the Rohingya Muslim minority to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The objective of the contract awarded to Mr. Ben-Menashe would be to attract the favors of key international players towards the Burmese military junta. Members of the US Congress and President Joe Biden’s administration are targeted by the campaign, according to Foreign Lobby, as are governments of countries with international influence such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The lobbyist was hired to “offer his help in explaining the real situation in Burma,” according to a document obtained by Foreign Lobby.

6 million contract in Sudan

Ari Ben-Menashe is the owner of Dickens & Madson, a lobbying firm headquartered in Montreal. The lobbyist, who was born in Iran and raised in Israel, owns several luxury properties in Montreal, where he is now based.

Press reported in 2019 the work of the lobbyist for the benefit of the Sudanese military.

Mr. Ben-Menashe had signed a $ 6 million contract with General Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, alias Hemetti, number two of the Transitional Military Council which seized power in Sudan in April 2019, following a coup of state.

He said he wanted to “help this regime to implement the democratic transition”.

In May 2010, a few months before the fall of Laurent Gbagbo in Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Ben-Menashe had proposed to him to set up a foreign legion made up of 2000 Zimbabwean fighters.

The firm Dickens & Madson then promised the Ivorian leader to build “a program aimed at stabilizing the country and bringing it back under the firm control of the president”.

Several people have lost feathers while spying with Ari Ben-Menashe, according to a report by Press dating from 2012. This was the case with the late Arthur Porter, former Executive Director of the McGill University Health Center (MUHC), originally from Sierra Leone. Mr. Porter had lost his position at the MUHC after his business relationship with Mr. Ben-Menashe was exposed.

In 2001, Morgan Tsvangirai, political rival of Robert Mugabe, then president of Zimbabwe, came to Montreal, invited by Mr. Ben-Menashe. The latter then filmed their conversation without Mr. Tsvangirai’s knowledge and sent the video to Zimbabwe, claiming that Mr. Tsvangirai had requested his services to assassinate President Mugabe. The African politician was charged with conspiracy and treason, before being acquitted three years later.

Deadly repression

The morning of 1er In February, the military seized power in Burma following a coup. The military junta declared a state of emergency for one year, after having arrested several political figures. Among the detainees, Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been head of government for five years.

Since then, the population has increased calls for help.

Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets again on Saturday in Burma, the day after another UN Security Council meeting.

At least 55 people have been killed since the start of the peaceful uprising against the coup of 1er February which overthrew the civilian government.

With Reuters and Agence France-Presse

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