WASHINGTON – A diplomatic crisis cracks in the Middle-East has ignited a multimillion-dollar battle for influence in Washington between the bitter rivals Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Both countries spent heavily in the past year on lawyers, lobbyists, public relations and advertising, to strive for a better trade and security relations with the United States, according to the publication shall be submitted to the Ministry of Justice.
On Qatar schedule: a Republican former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose law firm received a $2.5 million advance, and ex-advisor of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The UAE has an agreement with The Port of the Group, a public relations and public affairs firm, for up to € 5 million per year. The united arab emirates ambassador to the United States is heavily dependent on its former director of legislative affairs, Hagir Elawad. She is now a registered lobbyist who earns $25,000 per month as the embassy’s chief liaison to Capitol Hill.
The dispute between Qatar and the united arab emirates took a wild turn earlier this week when a top fundraiser for Trump filed a lawsuit against the government of Qatar and a number of lobbyists to work for Qatar, and she says that she hacked his and his wife’s e-mails. Elliott Broidy claimed that hackers from Qatar broke in their e-mail accounts, and Qatar lobbying team then distributed the e-mails to journalists in an attempt to get him to discredit.
The Associated Press reported Monday that a business partner of Broidy, George Nader, had wired $2.5 million for an influence campaign Broidy was the coordination in Washington that accused Qatar a state sponsor of terrorism. Nader is a political advisor of the united arab emirates and now a witness in the U. S. special counsel investigation into foreign interference in American politics.
Agents of foreign governments are required to register with the Ministry of Justice for lobbying, so that there is a public report of their activities. But neither Broidy nor Further is registered, according to a review of a public database maintained by the Ministry of Justice.
The Embassy of Qatar said Broidy’s lawsuit is “without merit or fact.” The other named defendant is Nick Muzin of Stonington Strategies, a lobbying company that Qatar is paying $150,000 per month. Muzin, a former Senate aide who worked on Trump’s presidential campaign, called the Broidy the claims of “as thin as the promises he allegedly made to his customers.”
Qatar has been under siege since the beginning of June, when the united arab emirates, Saudi Arabia and the other neighbors broken links on the progress of the small, gas-rich monarchy was the financing of terrorism, disrupting the Wave of unity and the encouragement of the opposition in the region. They cut of Qatar air, sea and land routes, the creation of a de facto blockade. The countries promised to isolate Qatar economic until she listens carefully to their wishes.
But Qatar, which has refused support services or the financing of terrorist groups, has insisted it can survive for an indefinite period of time on its own. The crisis, according to Qatari officials, was caused almost a year ago, when hackers acquired by the state-run news agency and posted fabricated comments attributed to Qatar ruler that Iran is an “Islamic power” and said that Qatar’s relations with Israel were “good”.
Qatari officials who investigated the attack could not pinpoint who was responsible, but they said that the media in the united arab emirates appeared ready and willing to the report of the forged notes as soon as the site was hacked.
Broidy’s lawsuit characterized two of the companies hired by Qatar — Ashcroft law Firm and the Avenue Strategies — such as enabling the country to “whitewash her record and hide the true facts about the support for the terrorists.”
Michael Sullivan, a partner at the Ashcroft company, called that statement “reckless and patently false.” He said that the company’s role is to review and if necessary strengthen Qatar’s existing programs for the combating of money laundering and global terrorism. Ashcroft is a GOP former Missouri governor and senator of the V. S. served as attorney-general in the Republican ex-president George W. Bush administration.
“We were not hired as lobbyists,” Sullivan said.
A former Trump campaign adviser, Barry Bennett, founded Avenue Strategies with Trump’s ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski has since parted ways with the company. Ministry of justice, show records from the embassy of Qatar paid Avenue Strategies $2.3 million between July and mid-January.
Bennett declined to comment on Broidy’s lawsuit. “I will bite my tongue and refer you to the embassy,” he said.
Avenue Strategies, and other lobbyists working for Qatar sought to derail bipartisan legislation that singled out Qatar for its support of the militant group Hamas. Bennett, for example, in the middle of November, forwarded to the members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs a letter from a former Israeli intelligence official who declared that Qatar will be no military aid to Hamas, as the invoice stated.
Another company in Qatar in the service, Husch Blackwell Strategies, used a more traditional approach: Jobs.
The company warned in a fact sheet, which is a $6.2 billion contract Boeing won to build F-15 fighter jets to Qatar can be threatened if the bill is approved by the Republican-controlled Congress and the GOP Trump management is put under pressure in the imposition of sanctions. That could be in danger of 3,000 “good-paying jobs” in Missouri, where Boeing assembles the aircraft, according to the fact sheet.
But Broidy pushed hard for the account of the passage, the handing out of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions as he pressed lawmakers to take a hard line against Qatar. The Committee on Foreign Affairs approved the bill in November and it is awaiting examination by a different committee.
Associated Press writers Tom LoBianco and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.