Qatar lobbyists ‘paid $4m by mysterious PR firm’

Joey Allaham (left) and Nick Muzin have both attracted attention for their “unconventional” lobbying in the US on behalf of Doha. (Twitter/AFP)
Updated 10 January 2019
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Qatar lobbyists ‘paid $4m by mysterious PR firm’

  • Qatar accused of using “illegitimate” means in its attempts to win favor globally
  • Details revealed in a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing in the US

LONDON: A US lobbyist in 2017 received nearly $4 million from a PR firm with apparent links to the Qatari government, in what one analyst said was an ongoing attempt by Doha to curry favor in Washington. 
Stonington Strategies, which is run by a well-known pro-Qatar lobbyist, received two payments for $1.95 million in late 2017 from a company called Blue Fort Public Relations, according to a Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing in the US.
Over the course of the six-month contract, Stonington Strategies “made senior level introductions, arranged trips, and fostered dialogue between American and Qatari companies,” the filing — seen by Arab News — shows. The document lists 15 US business executives consulted as part of the deal.
The agreement was signed by Nick Muzin, and involved sub-payments totaling $2.1 million to a company called Lexington Strategies, which is run by fellow lobbyist Joey Allaham.
The two men had previously attracted attention for their “unconventional” lobbying in the US on behalf of Doha, Mother Jones magazine reported.
There would be “no reason” for Muzin to register the six-month contract under the FARA legislation unless he believed that the state of Qatar could be considered a beneficiary of the lobbying work, the magazine noted. 
While lobbying is an acceptably activity, one analyst said that Qatar has often used “illegitimate” means in its attempts to win favor globally.
The latest lobbying attempts follow accusations made by several of Doha’s Arabian Gulf neighbors, which claim that Qatar funds terror and extremist groups globally. 
“Qatar has been using many vehicles over the past 20 years to lobby for its own causes and those of its allies, mostly … extremists,” said Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global, a management consultancy focused on the Middle East.

“Qatar uses both its own established media channels as well as influencing through various means, often illegitimate (and) breaking local laws in countries it operates.

“Qatar is known to have used illegal hacking as well as propagating fake news to undermine whom it perceives as risks to its activities.”


Daesh fighters pinned on Syrian riverbank, warplanes fly above

Updated 52 min 20 sec ago
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Daesh fighters pinned on Syrian riverbank, warplanes fly above

  • Defeat there would signal the end of the ultra-hard-line Islamist movement’s control in eastern Syria
  • The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday said they had driven the remaining Daesh fighters in the town of Baghouz

DEIR EZZOR, Syria: Warplanes flew near Baghouz in eastern Syria early on Wednesday, a Reuters witness said, as the final remnants of the Daesh group held a narrow strip of land along the Euphrates in a last-ditch defense of its dwindling territory.
Defeat there would signal the end of the ultra-hard-line Islamist movement’s control in eastern Syria, having held more than a third of Syria and Iraq at one point in 2014 as it sought to carve out a huge caliphate in the region.
On Tuesday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they had driven the remaining Daesh fighters in the town of Baghouz from a makeshift encampment that had represented most of its remaining territory.
But while the capture of Baghouz, close to the Iraqi border, would mark a significant milestone in Syria’s eight-year war and in the battle against the militant group, Daesh remains a threat.
Some of the group’s fighters are still holed up in the central Syrian desert and others have gone underground in Iraqi cities to wage an insurgent campaign to destabilize the government.
Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF, said late on Tuesday that clashes with the militants at the Euphrates were continuing “in several pockets.”