The UAE has sought to influence US political decisions to serve its own interests according to a classified US intelligence report.
The Washington Post citing the report written by the National Intelligence Council revealed yesterday that the Gulf state, long considered to be an important ally of the US, has for years attempted to shape US policy, both illegally and legally throughout various White House administrations.
The UAE has managed to do this by exploiting vulnerabilities in the US government which include "reliance on campaign contributions, susceptibility to powerful lobbying firms and lax enforcement of disclosure laws intended to guard against interference by foreign governments".
While some of the UAE's influencing measures were known to national security officials, some operations closely resembled espionage, the Post said.
One of the influence operations mentioned in the report involved the hiring of three former US intelligence and military officials to help the UAE monitor dissidents, politicians, journalists, and US companies.
The trio admitted last year to providing sophisticated computer hacking technology to the Emirati government and agreed to pay over $1.68 million in fines. According to the Justice Department, the case was the "first-of-its-kind."
Last week, an associate and adviser of former President Donald Trump was acquitted of unlawfully acting as a foreign agent of the UAE. Tom Barrack was arrested last year on nine criminal counts, including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.
The 75-year-old was accused of working for years to covertly advance the UAE's interests through his influence in the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and his administration.
The UAE's ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, in a statement said he is "proud of the UAE's influence and good standing in the US."
"It has been hard earned and well deserved. It is the product of decades of close UAE-US cooperation and effective diplomacy. It reflects common interests and shared values."
Since 2016 Abu Dhabi has spent more than $154 million on lobbyists according to Justice Department records. Hundreds of millions of dollars more have also been spent on donations to US universities and think tanks, with many having gone on to produce policy papers with findings favourable to UAE interests.