(Photo credit: Khaleej Times)
A number of US intelligence officials have put together a report detailing efforts undergone by the UAE to intervene in and influence US politics, the Washington Post reported on 12 November.
The classified document, which was revealed to the media outlet by anonymous individuals, states that the Gulf country – a prominent ally to Washington – used illegal methods in an attempt to shape its foreign policy in ways that are advantageous to Abu Dhabi.
The Emirati effort at dictating US policy has been ongoing throughout several administrations, and includes taking advantage of Washington’s dependency on campaign contributions, as well as its “susceptibility to powerful lobbying firms.”
The intelligence report was put together by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) to direct lawmakers on Washington’s West Asia policy, particularly towards the UAE. The report is unique, as it outlines the “influence operations of a friendly nation,” as opposed to those carried out by adversaries of the US, such as Russia or China.
According to the classified intelligence document, citing figures from the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the UAE has spent over $150 million on political action committees (PACS) and lobbyist groups. It has also spent hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to think tanks and universities, which in turn publish work that aligns with the interests of the UAE, or fits with its narrative on particular issues or conflicts.
The UAE is one of the leading funders of US think-tanks. An example of an Emirati-funded US-think tank would be the Middle East Institute (MEI), which spent several years publishing material in favor of US-led regime change against Damascus during the Syrian conflict. MEI was also instrumental in the spread of misinformation about the Syrian war.
The UAE-funded think-tank has also recently called for an increased US role in the region’s security.
“A very clear red line needs to be established against the UAE playing in American politics … I’m not convinced we’ve ever raised this with the Emiratis at a high level,” an unnamed US lawmaker said after reading the report.
Some of the Gulf state’s actions mentioned in the document “go well beyond mere influence peddling,” as it describes the involvement of US intelligence and military officers who were hired by the UAE to spy on dissidents and journalists, as well as on US companies.
According to prosecutors, these officers helped the Gulf state hack into computers inside the US. Additionally, the three accused men admitted in court last year that they provided the UAE with high-end hacking technology.
Washington and Abu Dhabi have been longtime allies and strategic partners, despite the latter’s gruesome human rights track record.
According to a report from last month, the UAE has employed hundreds of retired US military personnel in leading positions in its military, alongside thousands of foreign mercenaries who work under its command.