Keeping Friends Close

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The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of the United States, has been engaged in extensive efforts to influence US policy, according to a new classified intelligence report, The Hill reported.

According to the report, the Gulf nation used legal and illegal measures to try to influence US foreign policy in ways that would benefit the country, by exploiting vulnerabilities in the US government, as the Washington Post noted.

These vulnerabilities include reliance on campaign contributions, lobbying firms and lax enforcement of disclosure laws that are designed precisely to prevent foreign interference in US affairs.

Since 2016, the UAE has spent more than $150 million on lobbying and hundreds of millions more on donations to US universities and think tanks, many of which produce papers that support the Emirates’ goals.

Another example of the UAE’s influence includes hiring three former US intelligence and military officials to help the resource-rich nation conduct surveillance on dissidents, politicians, journalists, and even American companies. The three agreed to surrender their security clearances and pay about $1.7 million to resolve criminal charges, the Associated Press reported.

Previous intelligence reports examined – and found – election and political interference from the US’ rivals, Russia and China, not friendly nations.

Since 2012, the UAE has been the third-largest importer of US weapons and has fought alongside American forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Responding to the allegations, the UAE’s ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, said that he was “proud of the UAE’s influence and good standing in the US,” adding that the Emirates’ standing has been “hard earned and well deserved.”

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