UAE 'meddled in American politics': US intelligence report

UAE 'meddled in American politics': US intelligence report
However cordial bi-lateral relations remain in front of the cameras, the revelations of this new report show an increasing deficit of trust behind the scenes. 
2 min read
13 November, 2022
It is highly rare for the US government to engage in such counter-surveillance activity against a supposedly friendly ally [Getty images]

The United Arab Emirates has engaged in organised campaigns to manipulate the United States' political system to their advantage, according to a classified intelligence report whose existence was leaked to the Washington Post

The report details numerous attempts, both legal and illegal, by Emirati officials and US "recruits" to coerce the US government to favour the foreign policy interests of the Gulf state. 

Lobbying firms, large cash donations, and lax disclosure laws have all played a part in securing positive outcomes for the UAE, according to the revelatory document.

The sources spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, and refused to provide actual sight of the document.

Soft power, hard cash 

The Gulf state has invested at least $154 million on lobbyists since 2016, according to the US Justice Department. The funding of lobbyists is legal but is a democratically vulnerable aspect of the US political system. 

It has spent hundreds of millions of dollars more on soft power investments, including handouts to American academic and research institutions, with a view to producing output findings favourable to UAE interests.

One legal pursuit involved hiring three former US intelligence individuals to help the UAE engage in surveillance activities against a range of individuals on US soil. 

In public legal filings, US prosecutors said the men assisted the UAE in hacking computers in the United States and other countries. 

Last year, all three admitted in court to providing sophisticated hacking technology to the UAE.

Clampdowns and cooling relationships

The new intelligence report comes after the US-Emirati relationship has already been tested throughout 2022. 

The UAE's close ties with Russia that have endured throughout the invasion of Ukraine, and the decision by the OPEC+ oil production bloc to reduce oil outputs in the lead-up to the US midterms have unsettled both sides of the previously close partnership. 

Democrat members of Congress called on the US to drop support for the UAE and Saudi Arabia after OPEC announced a controversial cut in oil production earlier in the autumn.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was also forced to apologise to de-facto ruler crown prince Muhammad bin Zayed earlier this year after Washington delayed their response to Houthi attacks on UAE soil.