UAE adviser 'sent Republicans millions' to push anti-Qatar agenda

UAE adviser 'sent Republicans millions' to push anti-Qatar agenda
George Nader, now a witness in the Mueller probe, wired $2.5m to a Republican party fundraiser to promote anti-Qatar policies.
3 min read
26 March, 2018
George Nader, an advisor to the UAE government, made suspicious payments to Trump's fundraiser [AP]
A top fundraiser for President Donald Trump received millions of dollars from a political adviser to the United Arab Emirates last April, just weeks before US politicians considering legislation targeting Qatar started receiving large cash donations.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have led a bloc of Gulf Cooperation Council nations in a campaign against Qatar, a geopolitical rival which rejects Saudi regional hegemony, since last summer.

George Nader, an adviser to the UAE who is now a witness in the US special counsel investigation into foreign meddling in American politics, wired $2.5 million to Trump's chief fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada, AP has reported.

The money was reportedly paid to Broidy to bankroll the persuasion of US Congressional leaders into taking a hard line against Qatar, a long-time American ally yet a recently turned bitter adversary of the UAE.
Shortly after receiving the cash, Broidy sponsored a conference on Qatar's alleged ties to Islamic extremism. During the event, Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced he was introducing legislation that would brand Qatar as a terrorist-supporting state.
Trump's fundraising chief Elliott Broidy [Getty]

Broidy has since donated nearly $600,000 to Republican members of Congress and its political committees, allegedly attempting to sway politicians to implement anti-Qatar policies.

Broidy responded to the findings by insisting he had always been outpoken against militant groups.

"I've both raised money for, and contributed my own money to, efforts by think tanks to bring the facts into the open, since Qatar is spreading millions of dollars around Washington to whitewash its image as a terror-sponsoring state," he told AP.

Read more: What's behind Trump's volte-face on Qatar?

Despite Washington being on the receiving end of many politically motivated donations from various interest groups, there are strict restrictions on foreign donations, which are registered on a public record.

Emails written by Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US, which were leaked last year after the diplomat's account was hacked, appear to show the extent of the emirates' "lobbying" activities - including Otaiba's alleged payment of $250,000 to a witness in a US Congressional hearing on Washington's relations with Qatar.

The latest allegations have gained special importance due to the ongoing investigation into foreign meddling in US politics, in which Nader is a witness.

The timeline of the influx of cash wired by Nader, an adviser to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the de facto leader of the UAE, may provide material for US special counsel Robert Mueller's legal team as it probes the activities of Trump and his associates during the 2016 campaign and beyond. However, it is not yet clear if Mueller has expanded his investigation in that direction.

The Saudi-led bloc waging a blockade against Qatar has issued it with a list of demands, including shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran, and closing a Turkish military base.

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