Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Profile: Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

1- Name of NGO:

Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

2- Brief & Mission:

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank established in 2007 by Michèle Flournoy, a board member of military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, and Kurt M. Campbell, the coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs in the Biden Administration. Recently, leaked emails have brought to light the close relationship between the UAE and CNAS, a prominent national security think tank, revealing how the UAE advances its agenda through this institution. The United Arab Emirates has been known for its repressive government, abusive labor practices, and controversial involvement in the Yemeni conflict. Despite these concerns, the influential U.S. think tank CNAS rarely offers criticism of the UAE and instead provides a platform to its influential ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

CNAS has become a powerful player in U.S. policy circles, thanks in part to its co-founder and current CEO, Michele Flournoy, who held senior positions at the Pentagon during President Obama’s administration. Recently leaked emails have revealed a strong connection between CNAS and Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba. Although think tanks are often perceived as independent, they often receive funding from different sources, including foreign governments. The work of CNAS appears to be heavily biased and serves as a mouthpiece for the UAE government, raising questions about its objectivity and independence.

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

Allegations have surfaced regarding direct ties between this think tank and the UAE government, including its royal family.

5- Sources of Funding:

CNAS acknowledges its receipt of funds from the UAE and lists the country’s embassy as a donor. The hacked emails also show a close bond between CNAS and Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba, with the UAE embassy funding a paper on military-grade drones’ legal regime, for which Flournoy billed $250,000.

6- Activities:

The UAE expressed interest in joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an agreement governing arms exports among 35 nations, which would allow them to acquire advanced American attack drones. Ambassador Otaiba commissioned a private paper on the MTCR from CNAS, underlining the UAE’s support for the think tank’s work. Subsequently, the paper aligned with the UAE’s objectives, urging the Trump administration to consider a policy change.

Additionally, the UAE has been a major consumer of surveillance technology. Intercepted emails revealed Michele Flournoy’s efforts to promote the sale of electronic surveillance tools from a U.S.-based firm to the UAE government. Flournoy sought Otaiba’s assistance in arranging a meeting for the company with UAE officials. These leaked emails raised concerns about the potential use of electronic surveillance to monitor political dissidents within the UAE.

7- NGO Leadership:

Richard Fontaine holds the position of Chief Executive Officer at CNAS, while Richard L. Armitage serves as a Member of the CNAS Board of Directors.

8- Controversy:

Despite CNAS’s claims that its scholars are independent from donors, the leaked emails have cast doubt on the think tank’s objectivity. According to CNAS spokesperson Neal Urwitz, Michele Flournoy’s efforts to promote technology sales took place during her time in the private sector, not while she was associated with CNAS. Nonetheless, these revelations have initiated discussions surrounding transparency and the possible impact of foreign governments on the research conducted by think tanks.

9- Contact Details:

  • Website:
  • Address: USA
  • Email:

10- Classification/Blacklist:

The firm has been labeled as blacklisted because of its associations with UAE governments.

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