How UAE Influencing US Foreign Policy

Influencing US Foreign Policy: How UAE Wields Lobbying Power through Think Tanks

The political landscape in the United States has come under scrutiny in recent years due to concerns about foreign interference. While attention has been focused on election-related meddling, another area that deserves scrutiny is the influence of foreign governments through think tanks. These policy research organizations often play a significant role in shaping US foreign policy, and it turns out that many receive substantial funding from foreign countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This article explores how the UAE leverages its financial contributions to think tanks to shape American foreign policy decisions.

Think Tanks and Foreign Funding:

Washington’s think tanks, though tax-exempt non-profits, are not immune to foreign funding. Foreign governments pour tens of millions of dollars into these institutions every year, hoping to sway their policy recommendations and influence US foreign policy in their favor. The concerning part is that many of these experts, whose insights are frequently used by politicians and officials, are being paid directly or indirectly by the countries on which they provide advice, without any public disclosure.

The UAE’s Funding of Think Tanks:

The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Center for American Progress (CAP) are two prominent think tanks that have received millions of dollars from authoritarian governments in the Middle East, with a significant portion coming from the UAE. MEI, for instance, reportedly received a secret $20 million contribution from the UAE to hire experts and influence US policy considerations regarding the region. CAP has publicly reported receiving at least $1.5 million from the UAE.

Other Examples of UAE’s Influence:

Apart from MEI and CAP, several other think tanks in Washington have accepted money from authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. For example, the Brookings Institution received a $14.8 million donation from Qatar. These funding relationships raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest and lack of transparency in shaping US foreign policy.

Impact on Policy and Public Response:

Recent events have raised questions about the influence of foreign funding on think tanks and their policy recommendations. For instance, CAP’s ties to the UAE were questioned following its response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In another instance, Fahad Nazer, a foreign agent for Saudi Arabia, wrote articles for MEI and other mainstream media outlets, advocating for more US support for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


Need for Transparency and Reforms:

There is a clear lack of transparency when it comes to think tanks’ funding sources and potential conflicts of interest. While foreign agents are required to disclose their activities under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), think tanks receiving foreign funding have no such obligation. To address this issue, think tanks should be required to publicly disclose any foreign funding they receive and any potential conflicts of interest. Additionally, media outlets should vet their sources more rigorously and inform readers about potential biases.

The UAE’s financial influence on think tanks poses significant concerns for US foreign policy. Without greater transparency and reforms, there is a risk that foreign governments could unduly shape America’s international decisions. Policymakers, media, and the public must remain vigilant and demand more transparency to ensure that think tanks truly offer unbiased and objective policy recommendations. By shedding light on the influence of foreign funding, the United States can uphold the integrity of its foreign policy and safeguard its sovereignty.

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