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Reports: UAE tried to bribe congressional hearing witness

Image of the UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba [File photo]
UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba [File photo]

The Emirati Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba, allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a witness in the US congressional hearing yesterday, thus casting doubts over his credibility.

Leaked documents show that the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS), whose Director of the Middle East Security Programme, Ilan Goldenberg, will testify before the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee, received at least $250,000 from the UAE embassy.

The hearing “assessing US-Qatar relations” was scheduled yesterday and called for by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

Read: Israel provided Haftar weapons, UAE mediated

Leaked emails also show the extensive email and phone correspondence between Al-Otaiba and Ilan Goldenberg since last summer. The communication was aiming to fund CNAS’ work and a trip for Goldenberg and his colleagues to the UAE.

The emails also show Goldenberg pushing business contracts for Lockheed Martin, while CNAS’s CEO Michele Flournoy was pushing Al-Otaiba for Polaris to win a UAE government contract.

A letter to Al-Otaiba from August 2016, signed by Flournoy, requested that Al-Otaiba fund a study about UAE missile technology. The study was given to Al-Otaiba in February 2017 and distributed to UAE leadership, including Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed.

The other two witnesses being called to the congressional hearing are Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, and Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Both of these organisations are also thought to have received funding from the UAE.

Update July 31, 2017: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy refutes the claim above, stating their policy is to only accept funds from US sources:

By longstanding policy, The Washington Institute accepts funding solely and exclusively from American sources – U.S. citizens, foundations, institutions and corporations. Our belief is that this American-only funding policy is the most transparent and straightforward way for us to fulfill our mission: “to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them.”

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Asia & AmericasMiddle EastNewsQatarUAEUS
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