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Saudi appoints 3 pressure groups to improve its image before Biden’s inauguration

December 17, 2020 at 3:14 pm

US President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware, on 9 November 2020 [ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images]

Saudi authorities are making efforts to improve their image ahead of  the inauguration of the administration of Joe Biden in the new year, hiring lobbyists in America to make contacts with lawmakers.

One of the pressure groups that Saudi Arabia has recruited is the public relations company LS2 Group, with which it signed a one-year contract in 2019 at a cost of $1.5 million, according to CNBC.

The documents also revealed that Saudi Arabia will use the services of Arena Strategy Group, as the records of the contract signed on 1 December indicate, with the company commission to “inform the public, government officials and the media of the importance of strengthening relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

According to leaked documents, the contract, worth $5,000 a month, was signed a few weeks after Biden’s victory in the elections.

Saudi Arabia is also paying $25,000 a month to Off Hill Strategies for a period from October to 18 January 2021, so the pressure group would “support efforts by the embassy to communicate with the Congress and to strengthen bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

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Figures from the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP), a Washington-based independent organisation, indicate that in 2018 Saudi Arabia spent more than $30 million on lobbyists and about $5 million in 2020 so far.

Riyadh’s relations with the White House witnessed a significant rapprochement during the era of Donald Trump, who established a personal relationship with the kingdom’s rulers and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign against its opponent, Iran, while turning a blind eye to Riyadh’s violations of human rights.

The kingdom is concerned that the Biden administration will withdraw the sanctions Trump imposed on Iran and re-join the nuclear agreement with Tehran, limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia and hold the kingdom accountable for human rights violations.

A representative from the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to CNBC‘s request for comment.