During the Trump presidency, his son-in-law Jared Kushner worked extensively on Middle East policy.
Kushner is courting Persian Gulf countries to try and raise money for his new investment firm, says the NYT.
Kushner is having mixed success, with some countries concerned over his business track record.
Jared Kushner is turning to the Middle East, a region which he dealt with extensively during the Trump administration, to raise money for his new investment firm, reports say.
According to The New York Times, Kushner’s efforts to raise cash from Persian Gulf countries have so far had mixed success.
Qatar reportedly declined to invest in Kushner’s new firm, called Affinity Partners, having seen Kushner as an opponent during the Trump administration, a person familiar with the matter told the paper.
Kushner had backed the United Arab Emirates in a feud with Qatar and supported a blockade of the country.
The main sovereign wealth funds in the United Arab Emirates also declined to invest—although they did see Kushner as an ally, they questioned his business track record, a source told the paper.
However, Kushner is reportedly in ongoing negotiations with Saudi Arabia.
During the Trump administration, Kushner developed a close relationship with crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman, with whom he reportedly regularly exchanged friendly text messages and phone calls.
Kushner could be in talks to receive as much as $2 billion from the kingdom’s $450 billion Public Investment Fund, according to Project Brazen, a journalism platform set up by two former Wall Street Journal reporters.
One source familiar with the Saudi point of view told Project Brazen that while officials did have faith in Kushner’s abilities as a businessman, the greater appeal was his political sway.
“In Saudi Arabia, they love the idea of soft power,” the source reportedly said. “There is a view that Jared is connected to a powerful network.”
Kushner’s attempts to raise money from Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds raises ethical questions, The New York Times said, considering he was dealing with these countries in an official government capacity as recently as January.
Kushner’s business dealings are further complicated by the possibility that Trump might run for office again in 2024.
Although Kushner has reportedly told associates that he has no plans to return to politics, according to Project Brazen, countries like Saudi Arabia still have huge incentive to invest in the politically influential Trump family.
Kushner is not the only former Trump administration official to seek investment from Persian Gulf allies after having worked closely with them.
Former Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin has reportedly already received investments from the Saudis, the Emiratis and the Qataris, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.
Mnuchin’s success in courting investment is likely influenced by his reputation as a successful businessman, compared with Kushner’s less impressive record, the NYT said.
Mnuchin is a successful former Goldman Sachs banker, while Kushner’s experience is largely limited to running his family’s real estate company.
“When former White House officials start cashing in their time served with our government by cozying up to monarchs, it turns the stomach a bit. Is it illegal? No,” Nick Penniman, founder and chief executive of Issue One, a political reform organization, told the paper.
“Is it swampy and seemingly hypocritical? Yes.”
During the Trump administration, Kushner’s signature achievement was to negotiate the Abraham Accords,which saw multiple Arab states recognize Israel.
He also took a lead role in trying to end the Israel-Palestine conflict, despite having no previous foreign policy experience.
Kushner has maintained his interest in the region, earlier this year founding the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace, a nonprofit group that seeks to expand trade ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
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