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
0

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.”


Yemen combatants start talks in Jordan on prisoner swap deal

Updated 20 sec ago
0

Yemen combatants start talks in Jordan on prisoner swap deal

  • The agreed prisoner swaps are planned to take place at two airports
  • As part of that effort, the two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap

AMMAN: Yemen’s warring sides started talks in Amman on Wednesday on how to implement a prisoner exchange that will allow thousands of families to be reunited as part of UN-led peace efforts, UN officials and delegates said.
Delegates from the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government met in the Jordanian capital to discuss the swap, which was agreed in UN-led talks in Sweden in December.
“The two parties exchanged the list of prisoners in Sweden and they’re now discussing steps to implement it,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, have pressed the two sides to agree confidence-building steps to pave the way for a wider truce and a political process to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people.
As part of that effort, the two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap that delegates said would be conducted via the Houthi-held Sanaa airport in north Yemen and the government-held Sayun airport in the south.
The measures also included a plan to withdraw from the contested port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing famine, and place it under the control of an interim entity.
Hadi Haig, the head of the Yemen government delegation, said the two sides were verifying the prisoner lists as part of a five-stage process before the swap takes place.
The swap would be overseen by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The operation will require the Saudi-led coalition to guarantee that air space is secure for flights, the ICRC said.