Of synergies, negative and positive

by fpman

We have recently concluded our groundbreaking analysis of Amal Alamuddin and George Clooney’s wedding with the following assessment:

“Given that both are involved in some ambitious international, or rather global, humanitarian initiatives, our prognosis is that there is likely to be a fair amount of synergy in their efforts.”

We love to say “we were right.” It is a pleasant feeling for a poor analyst. So here it is. We were right.

Have you heard of the Elgin Marbles? It’s a collection of marble sculptures, em, “obtained,” with Ottoman approval, from the Parthenon in Athens’ Acropolis by a 19th century British gentleman who happened to be the Earl of Elgin. George Clooney is pretty convinced these days he has to weigh in on this issue, of all issues, and he already did, in fact, multiple times, as part of the promotion of his ‘Monuments Men‘ movie. Return what thou shalt return – is what he basically says. So the Greek government is happy to call on Mrs. Clooney’s, i.e. Amal Alamuddin’s, legal assistance now, and she is happy to respond to this call. Flying to Athens for a visit related to the issue, on October 13-16, “holding a series of meetings with government officials during their stay, including the Prime Minister, Mr Antonis Samaras, and the Minister of Culture, Mr Konstantinos Tasoulas,” as a recent statement by Doughty Street Chambers (where Amal is working) reveals.

A first time? No. As the same statement also points out: Mr Robertson (another lawyer at Doughty Street) and Mrs Clooney were first asked to provide legal advice to the Greek government on this matter in 2011.” Talkin’ about synergy… So do we think that the Elgin Marbles issue simply occurred to George Clooney one day, in a “by the way” manner…?

Now what’s the opposite of synergy? I have consulted this forum where some interesting suggestions are put forward, with the word “antergy” seemingly coming out on top. I consider that awkward. Etymologically it doesn’t make sense but it reminds me of ants and that is my problem. Ants are the best at making more of themselves than the sum of the parts. Leave ants alone! Hence I’ll be using the equally awkward term “negative synergy.”

Here is an example of dubious, or potentially negative, synergy. For all the humanitarian initiatives Amal and George are involved in, Amal’s uncle is apparently no other than Ziad Takieddine, a very international guy (What do we call him? A dealer? A go-between? A facilitator? Mr. Fix-It?) who was involved even in the far-reaching “Karachi case,” a textbook case of what can be wrong about adding up a bit of arms trade, corruption, and terrorism. Here’s the “deal” as it may have happened: France sold some submarines to Pakistan. To be able to sell them and make a profit, it had to pay commissions or kickbacks to Pakistani officials, for them to be willing buyers. In turn, the Pakistani officials paid kickbacks to French politicians, for them to be willing sellers (and payers of the commissions). This turned into a source of campaign financing for some people in France. Some of the money apparently went into financing Édouard Balladur’s 1995 presidential elections campaign which Balladur then lost. He was defeated by Jacques Chirac who then cancelled the deal with Pakistan on the commissions. And then in May 2002 eleven French engineers were blown up in the Pakistani port town of Karachi. Which may or may not be related to the commissions that went unpaid.

ZiadTakieddineZiad Takieddine (source: AFP/Getty)

Beyond being a part of the money flow, as an intermediary, to Balladur, Ziad Takieddine alleges that he was also part of the money flow to President Nicolas Sarkozy (who used to be a close associate of Balladur’s back in the latter’s days as Prime Minister), and that in part the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi financed Sarkozy’s own campaign struggle, from which he came out victorious, in 2007. A sum total of over 50 million Euros may have been put up by the Libyans for this purpose, and it is said to have been funnelled to the beneficiaries through Panama and Switzerland in the kind of sophisticated arrangement that seems to be Standard Operating Procedure in some circles.

Ziad Takieddine is currently banned from leaving France, by court order, related to the Karachi affair, and so, unless he’s granted special permission to leave the country, he cannot make it to the October 25 reception organized by Amal’s parents in London on the occasion of her recent wedding. Ziad is demanding the chance to do so.

Alright, that’s it for today, folks! May all this talk of synergy give you some energy.