How Saudi Arabia regained its influence in America through art, sports and academia

London – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”: A report prepared by Ben Freeman and published by The Intercept website detailed the efforts Saudi Arabia has made to enhance its sphere of influence in the United States. He said it was no surprise that President Joe Biden had failed in his efforts to isolate the kingdom or turn it into a “pariah” country. Saudi Arabia has returned to influence and from Hollywood to the academic field.

The author began with the final chapter of the Saudi influence effort, the Leaf Golf Championship competition for the PGE draw, in which Saudi Arabia spent exorbitant money making Phil Mickelson the face of the game as he played this summer in played every Leaf match, and suffered sarcastic comments, when he expressed his sympathy to the families of the 9/11 victims, who wrote a letter to him and the golfers involved, saying, “When you the Saudis cooperate, you become complicit in their bleaching process and help them get the reputational coverage they desperately want and are willing to pay to produce.” Through golf, the Saudis have made Mickelson the highest-paid athlete in the world, with an estimated income of about $138 million in the past 12 months, and in that span he has not won a single golf match.

Not surprisingly, President Joe Biden has failed in his efforts to isolate Saudi Arabia or turn it into a pariah country, as the kingdom has turned to influence from Hollywood to academia.

Milkson was not alone in collaborating with Saudi Arabia. His prominent counterpart, President Joe Biden, called Saudi Arabia a pariah in his 2019 campaign, but this summer he shared his grip on peace over Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and agreed to sell the kingdom billions of dollars in weapons .

The author believes that there was a moment when the Saudi position in the United States, supported by well-funded lobby groups, seemed to be facing an impasse. The killing of “Washington Post” journalist Jamal Khashoggi led to the collapse of Saudi influence in the United States, as some countries suspended arms deals to Saudi Arabia and some issued travel bans on suspects involved in the crime. Research centers have pledged not to accept Saudi money. American universities, which received millions of dollars from the ruling Saudi family, began to review their relations, and even the world of entertainment and sports spoke out against Saudi Arabia. In the world of professional sports and politics, within four years of Khashoggi’s murder, condemnations have subsided and relations have been restored.

In the world of sport and political professionalism, within four years of Khashoggi’s murder, condemnations have subsided and relations have been restored

Like Biden and Michelson, organizations that ostracized the Saudis welcome them with open arms. And when lobby groups and public relations firms suspended relations with Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder, Saudi Arabia increased its dealings with companies from which it continues to receive money. In the six weeks after Khashoggi’s murder, public relations firm Keawareface Communications, the kingdom’s longest-serving public relations firm, received $18 million, according to data provided under the Foreign Client Registration Act (FARA). Coorvis was the same company that helped Saudi Arabia revive its reputation after it was revealed that 15 Saudis were among the 19 attackers in the 9/11 operations. Qorvis received $14 million to provide outreach services to raise awareness of the Kingdom’s “commitment to the war on terrorism and peace in the Middle East,” according to the company’s filings under FARA.

Since then, the Quincy Institute, which analyzes responsible governance, found that KewOrvis received more than $100 million in significant expenses during or after these critical moments in US-Saudi relations. This included a substantial $11 million payment to Qorvis in 2003, just as America began the invasion of Iraq. In 2015, the year Saudi Arabia began its war in Yemen, Qorvis received $10 million from the Saudi Embassy in Washington. After Khashoggi’s murder, Qorvis and other public relations firms, which continued to receive money from Saudi Arabia for services, worked to provide important services to the kingdom, specifically helping the crown prince face all penalties related to the Khashoggi murder. , to avoid. And Congress passed resolutions that would have ended US support for the catastrophic war in Yemen, in addition to several resolutions that could have halted arms deals to Saudi Arabia. But Trump, courted by the Saudis, voted against every resolution that would have held Saudi Arabia responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. And lobby groups in Congress made sure no veto was overturned by the president.

The Saudi lobby took the battle for influence inside America away from the “beltway” (the realm of the government, lobby groups and the media) to a false propaganda campaign that eventually reached half of the American states. The campaign was led by a public relations firm based in Des Moines, Iowa, called the Larson Shanahan Silifka Group, which contacted thousands of small media organizations, local publishing groups, non-profit groups, businesses, religious organizations and even high school students, all on behalf of the Saudi Embassy.

The campaign helped the Saudi ambassador spread the message that Saudi Arabia has deep ties to American trade and is working to improve its human rights record. Companies that left the kingdom after Khashoggi’s murder began to recoup their money and help revive Saudi influence in the United States. A month after Khashoggi’s murder, Trump and lobbyist Richard Holt suspended his contract with the Saudi government, telling the Center for Public Integrity: “I am now in the process of ending my representation, my contribution and retirement to reconsider.” Six months later, Holt revealed in filings filed under FARA that he had returned to work on behalf of the Saudi government. According to recent filings filed in June, Holt continues to advise the Saudi embassy in Washington. In the six months covered by the files, he received $498,000 for his work. Like Holt, BGR Group suspended its contracts to represent the Saudi Embassy and the Center for Studies and Media Affairs in the royal court, headed by Saud al-Qahtani, whom the CIA named one of Khashoggi’s killers, shortly after the crime. But in June, the group began representing an institution funded by the Saudi government, the Muslim World League.

While lobby groups and public relations firms are the backbone of Saudi influence in America, they are assisted by intellectual powerhouses typically operating in Washington, DC, from research centers and leading university colleges across the country. These entities decided to reconsider their relations with Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi. Two weeks after his murder, the Middle East Institute told BuzzFeed that the institute’s board had decided not to accept funding from the Saudi government and to place the funding under strict supervision, pending the results of the investigation into Khashoggi’s death. murder. According to files submitted by the institute, since Khashoggi’s murder he has received more than $600,000 from Aramco Services, which runs the parent company, the oil company. The Center for International and Strategic Studies returned a grant from Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder. And in June this summer, the director of the Middle East Studies Program said he was confident that returning the Saudi scholarship after Khashoggi’s murder was the right decision, but “wasn’t sure that continuing to break up was the right decision is to move forward,” and praised President Biden’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia.

Although most educational institutions announced that they would review their relations with the Kingdom following the Khashoggi murder, none of them severed their relations with them.

Like the Middle East Institute, CSIS files filed under FARA show that Aramco has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to the organization since Khashoggi’s murder. Academic institutions have received more than $2.6 billion, according to the records of the Ministry of Education, which has been shaken by the public condemnation of Khashoggi’s murder. While most educational institutions announced that they would review their relations with the Kingdom in the wake of the crime, none of them severed their relations with it. This includes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which hosted the Saudi crown prince in March 2018, six months before Khashoggi was killed. After reviewing the Saudi funding, the institute decided to maintain the arrangement. The university has since accepted about $17 million from Saudi Arabia, according to an analysis of Ministry of Education records. And MIT is not alone. American academic institutions have received $440 million since Khashoggi’s murder.

American academic institutions have received $440 million from Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi’s murder

As academic institutions and politics reassess their relationship with Saudi Arabia, another branch of the American elite has reassessed the relationship. In an article published in the Hollywood Reporter in November 2021 titled “Hollywood Close to Saudi Money Again,” attempts by American entertainment companies to bypass Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s murder were referred to as late 2021, when Saudi- Arabia organized the Red Sea. International Film Festival. The event brought together important figures in the world of film and music, such as Justin Bieber and Jason Derulo. As Politico’s Healy Faches reported last month, PR firms working on behalf of Saudi Arabia have floated ideas for organizing Globe-style events in Saudi Arabia, a weekly screening of Trever Noah’s “Late Show,” or even partnering with music festivals like Bonaro and Coachella. Brian Lanza, a partner at the PR group Mercury Public Affairs, which has lobbied for the release of rival princes jailed by MBS, told Politico that such partnerships between foreign governments and stars are becoming common. “Stars make more money promoting foreign governments than they do making movies,” he said.

At a time when a number of stars have expressed a desire to take Saudi money, through sports stars such as “World Wrestling Entertainment Inc,” which signed a 10-year contract worth nearly half a billion dollars, a desire to host wrestling events in Saudi. Arabia. In 2020, Formula One signed a 15-year contract in which the kingdom agreed to pay $65 million for each Grand Prix it hosts.

Saudi Arabia spent $1.5 billion on Leaf Golf to improve its image

Perhaps the $1.5 billion that Saudi Arabia spent to improve its image stands out in the Leaf Golf chain. While public relations masters and lobbyists express a willingness to disregard human rights in Saudi Arabia, critics of the regime face an ongoing fight for their lives. While Saudi Arabia holds up its ambassador as an example of protecting and defending women’s rights, women activists face repression and persecution, most recently Leeds University student Salma Al-Shehab. Biden did not present a gift to the crown prince when he visited Saudi Arabia, because the visit would not have been possible without the work of public relations companies, pressure groups, research centers, colleges, sports stars, art and music, which Saudi has taken . money and contributed to improving his image and covering up his mistakes.

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