Trump administration misusing USAID for personal business interests

Historically a cipher and pass-through for the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been transformed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the urging of Donald Trump, into an aggressive business intelligence operation designed to financially benefit Trump’s top donors in private industry. USAID is a component of the U.S. State Department and is officially tasked with managing U.S. foreign assistance programs, mostly in developing countries.

USAID is withholding assistance to countries that refuse to abandon telecommunications infrastructure improvements, including 5G upgrades, that rely on equipment and expertise provided by the Chinese firm, Huawei.

Trump has made Huawei a personal target in his economic war against China. USAID has been urging countries to reject Chinese overseas development projects that include Huawei systems. USAID claims that Huawei systems are riddled with security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by Chinese intelligence agencies.

In 2018, the Trump administration imposed a ban on the export of U.S. critical telecommunications components, including products from Qualcomm and Google, to another Chinese telecommunications firm, ZTE Corporation, for violating international sanctions imposed on North Korea and Iran. Shortly after ZTE paid a $1 billion fine to the U.S. and agreed to replace its top corporate management officials and permit U.S. inspections of its plants, Trump lifted the ban. It turned out that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross—a textbook example of a corrupt government official—had vested interests with firms and entities associated with the company. These include China Investment Corporation, the sovereign wealth fund of China.

USAID is taking an aggressive stand against ongoing Huawei projects in Algeria with SONATRACH, the state-owned oil company of Algeria. Pressure is also being applied by USAID on Madagascar, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola (where Huawei and ZTE are jointly building a network), Bahrain, Uganda, Niger, Libya, Congo (Kinshasa), Morocco, Burkina Faso, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Kenya, South Korea, Congo (Brazzaville), Benin, Thailand, South Sudan, and Somaliland.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2019

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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