The Washington Post reported Saturday that the UAE’s efforts include legal and illegal measures to try to influence the country’s foreign policy in ways that would benefit the UAE. The daily based its reporting on conversations with three people who have read the report.
The report found that the UAE worked throughout multiple administrations to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the US government, including a reliance on campaign contributions, its predisposition to lobbying firms and lax enforcement of disclosure laws that are designed to prevent foreign interference in US affairs.
The National Intelligence Council compiled the report, and top US lawmakers were briefed on it in recent weeks to help their decision-making in the country’s policy toward the UAE and Middle East, according to The WaPo.
US intelligence has previously found interference in elections and the country’s political system from adversaries like Russia and China.
National security staff are aware of some of the activities that the report describes, but these operations have been able to be in effect because the federal government has not reformed foreign influence laws or provided more resources to the Justice Department, the newspaper reported.
The UAE has spent more than $150 million on lobbying since 2016 and hundreds of millions more on donations to US universities and think tanks, many of which create papers that support the UAE’s interests.
One lawmaker that the paper spoke to said the large spending shows how foreign money can influence US democracy.
Another example of the UAE’s influence campaign includes hiring three former U.S. intelligence and military officials to help the UAE conduct surveillance on dissidents, politicians, journalists and American companies. All three officials admitted to providing sophisticated hacking technology to the UAE in court last year, The Post reported.
The UAE has been the third-largest buyer of US weapons since 2012 and has fought alongside US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, according to The Washington Post.
The Post reported that Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the US, stated he is “proud” of the UAE’s standing and influence in the US. He noted it is the product of close cooperation and effective diplomacy and reflects common interests and shared values.