One of the newest additions to Donald Trump’s campaign is a young consultant who has pushed for natural gas development in Israel.
George Papadopoulos, an independent energy consultant based in London, arrives from the suspended campaign of Ben Carson. Trump called Papadopoulos an "excellent guy" as he named a slate of foreign-policy advisers in a meeting with The Washington Post‘s editorial board yesterday.
Later in the day, Trump gave a prepared speech to a packed Verizon Center, where the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby group, was holding a policy conference. Calling Israel "our cultural brother," he vowed to end the nuclear accord with Iran and battle terrorism in the region.
Papadopoulos, meanwhile, has recently been advocating for Israel to tap and export its own reserves of natural gas. Last October, writing in the Israeli daily Haaretz, he said Israel faces a rare opportunity to tie itself into the fabric of the Middle East.
"Israel’s energy exports can serve as the basis for enhancing strategic relations between Israel and Egypt," he wrote. "They could also serve as the foundation for political and security cooperation with Greece and Cyprus at a time when Israel’s security and interests are threatened by surrounding enemies."
Foreign companies found large gas resources off Israel’s coast in 2009 and 2010. But these reserves have yet to be fully exploited, thanks to regulatory and political obstacles (EnergyWire, July 2, 2015).
For Trump, the appointment may represent an effort to bring more policy chops to a campaign that is unexpectedly in the lead for the Republican nomination.
Speaking to the Post editorial board yesterday, Trump said the 2003 decision to invade Iraq was wrong, in part, because Iraq’s oil was not fenced off from Iran. He said he would have used American troops to form a protective cordon.
"I would defend the areas with the oil," he said, according to a transcript. "And I would have taken out a lot of oil. And, uh, I would have kept it. I mean, I would have kept it, because, look: Iran has the oil, and they’re going to have the oil, well, the stuff they don’t have, because Iran is taking over Iraq as sure as you’re sitting there. And I’ve been very good on this stuff. My prognostications, my predictions have become, have been very accurate, if you look."
Papadopoulos graduated from DePaul University in 2009, according to his LinkedIn page. After getting a master’s degree at University College London, he took a research position at the conservative Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., in 2011.
At the Hudson Institute, Papadopoulos focused his research on energy and geopolitics in the Eastern Mediterranean. His work attempted to assess how the changing politics in this region — including Israel, Turkey, Egypt and the Caspian Sea — mattered for U.S. interests.
Papadopoulos’ LinkedIn profile says he left the Hudson Institute last fall to become a private energy consultant.
He officially joined the Carson campaign in December; a press release described him as "a private consultant, speaker and writer on energy policy" who "has presented at numerous conferences throughout the Middle East."
Papadopoulos could not be reached for comment. He confirmed to The Washington Post that he is an adviser to Trump, but he would not comment further.