Everything you need to know about 'those' UAE emails

Everything you need to know about 'those' UAE emails
The e-mail account of UAE’s Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al-Otaiba has been hacked by a group who published the material on Saturday.
4 min read
03 June, 2017
Yousef al-Otaiba, United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States [Getty]
A group of hackers allegedly stole e-mails from the UAE's Ambassador to the United States account and threatened to release them in full on Saturday.

The group, which calls itself "GlobalLeaks" and uses a Russian email account address, told reporters it will release every email in Yousef Al-Otaiba's account.

The hackers claim the full database shows a clear picture of the UAE's lobbying arm and detrimental effects on US interests abroad.

The emails were reportedly provided by a paid whistle-blower from a think-tank based in Washington DC and a selected batch were released to various media outlets as proof.

The Israel Connection

Some of the more controversial e-mails released show a very clear link between the UAE and the Israeli political firm, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

Several of the e-mails show the FDD provided the UAE government with a list of companies that are known to be working with Iran, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

"This is a target list for putting these companies to a choice, as we have discussed," Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), wrote in an e-mail to Otaiba.

It is thought that the list is being used to pressurise those companies into ending any business with Iran.

Another email shows FDD senior counsellor, John Hannah, requesting a meeting with Mohammad Dahlan, a security adviser to Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and hopeful future President of Palestine.

The FDD is financed by Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire ally of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the largest donor to US President Donald Trump's electoral campaign.

Israel has moved closer to the Gulf in recent years due to a shared enmity with Iran, despite the fact the UAE and Saudi Arabia do not currently recognise the state of Israel officially.

This is not the first time Israel has engaged with the UAE on foreign policy matters. The UAE and Israeli air forces took part in a joint practice drill in Greece in March for the second time in twelve months.

The UAE twists the US' arm

The real importance behind the e-mails lies in how much sway the UAE has had in influencing US policy in the Middle East - especially against Iran and Qatar.

The hackers claim that the emails show "how a small rich country/company used lobbyists to hurt American interests and those of its allies."

In 2013, Otaiba sent regular emails to contacts throughout Washington, praising the overthrow of deposed Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi.

"Countries like Jordan and UAE are the 'last men standing' in the moderate camp," he wrote.

"The Arab Spring has increased extremism at the expense of moderation and tolerance."

Read more: The UAE has it in for the Muslim Brotherhood

The e-mails reportedly show a clear picture of the back-channels the UAE ambassador has taken to ensure the UAE's interests are promoted abroad.

Several of the e-mails relate to Qatar and its clear support for UAE's enemies, including Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.

Otaiba is known to be extremely close with the US' secretary responsible for the Middle East, Jared Kushner. One Politico article reported the two were in "almost constant phone and email contact" after meeting through Tom Barrack, a Lebanese-American businessman and Trump fundraiser.

Some of the FDD e-mails talk of "political, economic, military, intelligence, and cyber tools," that can be used to "contain and defeat Iranian aggression."

The Moscow Connection

GlobalLeaks claims to be connected to DC Leaks, a cyber espionage group which the US Department for Homeland Security (DHS) found to be attached to the Kremlin.

"The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions," the DHS said in a statement.

Moscow has been at odds with a number of Gulf Arab monarchies over the Syrian conflict. Russia has backed the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, whereas a number of Gulf states have allegedly provided arms and support to the Syrian rebels and Islamic State.

It has not been confirmed or verified whether GlobalLeaks is connected to DC Leaks or the Kremlin.

Otaiba, who has been named "the most charming man in Washington," reportedly gave out iPads to journalists and other political types as Christmas presents.