The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has spent hundreds of millions funding US lobbyists, universities and think tanks. The influence exerted by the undemocratic Gulf monarchy on Washington is enormous.
As the Washington Post reported, several US intelligence officials have authored a report detailing efforts by the UAE to intervene and influence US policy. The classified document, which was leaked to the media outlet by anonymous individuals, said the Gulf Monarchy — a prominent Washington ally — is using illegal methods to shape US foreign policy in a way that is beneficial to Abu Dhabi .
Emirati efforts to dictate US policy have cut through several administrations and include exploiting Washington’s reliance on campaign funds and “vulnerability to powerful lobbying firms.” Countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia are also considered to be particularly active when it comes to influencing US politics. After all, the Americans play an important role in the Middle East, so the governments in the region are particularly interested in support from Washington.
The intelligence report was written by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) to provide lawmakers with clues about Washington’s West Asia policy, particularly towards the UAE. The report is unique in that it describes “a friendly nation’s operations of influence” as opposed to those conducted by US adversaries such as Russia or China. According to the intelligence document, which cites figures from the US Department of Justice, the UAE has spent over $150 million on Political Action Committees (PACS) and lobbyist groups. In addition, they have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to think tanks and universities, which in turn publish work that suits the interests of the UAE or fits their perspective on specific issues or conflicts.
The UAE is one of the leading funders of US think tanks. An example of an Emirati-funded US think tank is the Middle East Institute (MEI), which spent several years producing material in favor of US-led regime change against Damascus during the Syrian conflict published. The MEI has also been instrumental in spreading misinformation about the Syrian war. The UAE-funded think tank has also recently called for a stronger US role in security in the region.
Red line required
“A very clear red line needs to be drawn against UAE interference in American politics… I’m not convinced we’ve ever raised this with the Emirates at a high level,” an unnamed US lawmaker said after reading the Report according to the newspaper. Some of the Gulf state’s actions mentioned in the document “go well beyond mere influence” as it details the involvement of US intelligence and military officers hired by the UAE to spy on dissidents and journalists as well as US companies. According to prosecutors, these officers helped the Gulf state hack into computers in the United States. In addition, the three defendants admitted in court last year that they provided the UAE with high quality hacking technology.
Washington and Abu Dhabi have long been allies and strategic partners, although the Gulf state is one horrific human rights record having. Additionally, the UAE has employed hundreds of retired US military personnel in senior positions in its military, alongside thousands of foreign mercenaries working under its command. Like yourself”Stripes” critically reported: “The influx of American veterans willing to sell their military expertise to a foreign power — usually with Pentagon and State Department approvals — has helped the small but oil-rich UAE build what many pundits call the most powerful military in the Arab world look at. But the result has proved to be both a blessing and a curse for US national interests. While the Emirates remain a close partner, their newfound military strength has emboldened them to send troops to Yemen and Libya, fueling civil wars in both countries.”
All in all, it is clear that not only the super-rich and the mega-corporations influence Washington’s politics, but also foreign governments. And not necessarily in the best interests of Americans themselves. Regardless of whether this is a “friendly” or an “enemy” power.