Newspaper: A US intelligence report says that “a Gulf ally has interfered in Washington’s politics.”

US intelligence officials have “compiled a classified report” detailing extensive efforts to manipulate the US political system by the UAE, long considered a close and trusted partner of the United States, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Those activities include “illegal and legal efforts to steer US foreign policy in ways favorable to Emirati policy,” three people told the newspaper.

These people said it “reveals the UAE’s effort to exploit weaknesses in US government, including its reliance on campaign contributions, its susceptibility to lobbyist intervention, and lax enforcement of disclosure laws aimed at countering interference by to protect foreign governments,” according to the “Washington Post”. “.

Lauren Frost, spokeswoman for the director of national intelligence, declined to comment when asked about the report.

For his part, the UAE ambassador in Washington, Youssef Al-Otaiba, said he was “proud of the UAE’s influence and good standing in the United States,” according to the “Washington Post.”

Over the years, the United States has agreed to sell the UAE some of its “most advanced and lethal” military equipment, including MQ-9 drones and advanced F-35 fighter jets, a privilege not granted to any other Arab country.

Some of the influence operations described in the report are familiar to national security professionals, but these activities have flourished because of Washington’s “reluctance to reform foreign influence laws or provide additional resources to the Justice Department.”

Other activities closely resemble espionage, people familiar with the report said, according to the Washington Post.

The UAE has spent more than $154 million on lobbyists since 2016, according to US Justice Department records.

The UAE has also spent hundreds of millions of dollars in “donations to American universities and think tanks, many of which produce policy documents with results favorable to Emirati interests,” according to a previous report by responsiblestatecraft.

Commenting on the report, one US lawmaker said it showed “how American democracy is being distorted by foreign money,” and said it should serve as a “wake-up call.”

“A very clear red line needs to be drawn against the UAE’s manipulation of US policy,” he said, adding: “I’m not convinced we’ve ever raised that with the Emiratis at a high level.”

Both the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the State Department declined to comment on whether they had taken up the issue with their senior counterparts in the UAE, according to the Washington Post.

People briefed on the report declined to provide a copy of it, saying the activities attributed to the UAE “beyond mere influence peddling.”

One of the exploits included “the appointment of three former US intelligence and military officials to help the UAE monitor dissidents, politicians, journalists and US companies,” according to the Washington Post.

Last year, the three admitted in court to providing advanced hacking technology to the UAE, agreed to hand over their security clearances and pay about $1.7 million to settle criminal charges, according to the Associated Press.

The Justice Department called the settlement “the first decision of its kind.”

Critics saw the financial penalty as frivolous given the large payments received by former US officials, raising fears of “repetition of similar behavior in the future”.

Reference was made to the federal trial of Thomas Barrack, an adviser to former President Donald Trump, who was acquitted this month of charges that he allegedly worked as an agent for the UAE and lied to federal investigators about it, according to ‘ a previous report by The Washington Post.

US prosecutors accused Barrack of “exploiting his relationship with Trump for the benefit of the UAE and working on a secret back channel for communications involving the transfer of sensitive information to Emirati officials.”

Evidence presented in court included “thousands of letters, social media posts and flight logs,” as well as communications showing that Emirati officials “provided him with talking points in the media that praised the UAE.”

Barak strongly denied the charges against him, and prosecutors failed to convince the jury that his abuse of power led to the commission of crimes.

One of his aides, Matthew Grimes, was acquitted, and Barak declined to comment through his spokesman, according to the Washington Post.

Since 2012, the UAE has been “the third largest buyer of US arms,” ​​and has built what many consider the most powerful military in the Arab world by cultivating close ties with the US political, defense and military establishment, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The UAE military has fought alongside US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and the country hosts 5,000 US soldiers at Al Dhafra Air Base and US warships at Jebel Ali port.

The UAE is often described in research centers and US military circles as “Little Sparta” for its military prowess, while its human rights record is shunned, according to the “Washington Post”.

In the UAE there are “no elections, no political parties, no independent judiciary, criticism of the government is forbidden, trade unions and homosexuality are forbidden.” Freedom House ranks the Gulf states among the least free countries in the world.

The Gulf state angered US officials after the Defense Ministry’s oversight board said that “the UAE may have financed the (Wagner) Group, a Russian mercenary army close to the Kremlin accused of committing atrocities in Libya, Ukraine and Africa committed,” which the UAE denies.

Last month, a Washington Post investigation revealed the UAE’s “widespread flirtation” with retired senior US military personnel.

The investigation showed that 280 retired US service members had worked as military contractors and advisers for the UAE over the past seven years, “more than any other country.”

The UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, has been instrumental in the UAE’s success in Washington, forging strong relationships with powerful politicians and businessmen from across the political spectrum, according to the report.

When asked about the findings of the intelligence report, Otaiba said he was “honored to be among a group of serious people of goodwill in both countries who have established a full and lasting partnership that the UAE, the United States and made the region safer, more prosperous and more open.”

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