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Lobby firms bolster Egyptian military

February 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

Earlier this month The Hill, a political newspaper based in Washington DC, announced that Egypt’s interim authorities had hired a lobby firm to bolster its image after the US decided to withhold selected military aid in response to the ongoing crackdown against Egyptian protesters following the 3 July military coup that ousted Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

A few days later MEMO uncovered the news that the leadership of this firm, the Glover Park Group (GPG), includes Arik Ben-Zvi an Israeli citizen who served in the Israeli army as well as two executives previously employed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful arm of the Israel Lobby in the US.

GPG is considered to be one of the most influential lobby groups in Washington when it comes to representing foreign governments, and its founders have close ties with former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.

Since then, MEMO’s exclusive on GPG’s ties to Israel has been widely reported in both the Arab and English media, which has apparently unnerved the military regime in Egypt because GPG has now removed the firm’s profile of Ben-Zvi. Although a Google search still shows the prior existence of his profile on the firm’s web site, the page is no longer accessible.

However, Ben-Zvi’s profile is still accessible on the Bloomberg Businessweek web site, and it confirms that Ben-Zvi serves as a Managing Director of GPG, and previously served as the firm’s Senior Vice President and Vice President. Furthermore, it confirms that he served a three-year term in the Israeli Defence Forces “in an elite Tactical Reconnaissance Unit, finishing his service in a command position over a nine-man squad.” A similar profile can also be found on the Huffington Post web site.

Based on MEMO’s original article, Al-Jazeera reported that Egypt’s contract with GPG is worth $250,000 a month, which makes it one of the most lucrative contracts ever filed with the US Department of Justice.

Egypt’s military regime also has another Washington-based lobby group working on its behalf. Since 3 July, AIPAC has been pressuring the US to support the military coup. According to an article in Foreign Policy magazine in mid-August, AIPAC surprised Washington when the lobby publicly mobilised strong opposition to an amendment sponsored by Senator Rand Paul in July that proposed redirecting $1.5 billion in Egyptian aid to rebuilding US infrastructure instead. The amendment was overwhelmingly defeated. According to congressional aides from both the Democratic and Republican parties, AIPAC has also been “operating behind the scenes in private meetings with lawmakers to keep alive Cairo’s funding.”

When AIPAC failed to achieve this and the US decided to start limiting military aid to Egypt, the military regime in Cairo immediately turned to GPG for additional help.

Thus as Zaid Jilani recently observed on Al-Jazeera America, while the military regime “has finally hired its own registered Beltway lobbyists, they join a chorus of other powerful pro-coup lobbyists for domestic pro-Israel and military-contract interests.” But as long as Egypt’s brutal crackdown continues, the military regime will need all the help it can get.