UAE Enlists Samantha Power Aide Navigate UN Challenges

UAE Enlists Samantha Power Aide Navigate UN Challenges

Amidst mounting criticism on the global stage, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken a strategic step by engaging the expertise of a former aide to Barack Obama’s UN ambassador, Samantha Power. The UAE’s mission to the United Nations has recently brought on Max Gleischman, a former director of communications for President Obama’s UN ambassador. This decision comes as the UAE faces intense scrutiny over alleged human rights violations in regions such as Libya and Yemen.

Gleischman is spearheading efforts on a $400,000 contract with the Glover Park Group, where he serves as the account lead. This contract, signed on November 19 and set to run for four months, outlines the provision of communications and strategic counsel. The scope of this work encompasses a range of tasks, from engaging with media entities to addressing global security, development assistance, and related matters of interest to the UAE’s foreign principal. The firm is also tasked with website development services for the UAE mission.

Although Gleischman did not respond to requests for comments, his involvement echoes the UAE’s strategy of enlisting former aides with relevant expertise. The UAE previously enlisted Hagar Chemali, another former Power aide, from September 2016 to September 2018. Chemali’s engagement coincided with the UAE facing increased criticism for its involvement in countering the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Leaked emails published by The Intercept revealed that Chemali aimed to undermine the credibility of a critical non-governmental organization, the Arabian Rights Watch Association, without directly linking the UAE to such efforts.

Samantha Power, a prominent advocate for human rights, has been an outspoken critic of US involvement in the Saudi-led intervention against the Houthis under President Donald Trump. Yet, her stance was notably subdued during the same intervention carried out during Obama’s tenure.

The UAE’s decision to hire Gleischman arrives at a pivotal juncture, as the nation grapples with international pressure on multiple fronts at the UN. Notably, a report by the UN Panel of Experts on Libya, released on November 29, accuses the UAE, along with Egypt and Jordan, of supporting Libyan strongman Khalifa Hifter militarily, in violation of UN sanctions. Additionally, the UAE’s involvement in Yemen, particularly its support of the secessionist Southern Transitional Council, has drawn scrutiny and risked destabilizing the coalition against the Houthi rebels. Even after the UAE withdrew most of its troops in July, its actions prompted the Yemeni government to request a UN Security Council session to address the UAE’s aerial bombardment against Yemeni armed forces.

In a separate incident, Reuters reported this month that a UAE cybersurveillance program attempted to compromise email accounts of foreign diplomats representing UAE rivals at the UN in New York. The UN confirmed these attacks, underscoring the complexity of the UAE’s engagement on the international stage.

Gleischman, who has notable experience in Middle East lobbying, is not new to the realm of diplomatic engagement. He has previously worked for the Glover Park Group, representing entities such as Saudi Arabia and Dubai-based Adalid Business Consulting DMCC. Gleischman currently holds the position of Senior Vice President at Breakwater Strategy, a firm co-founded by Arik Ben-Zvi, a co-founder of Glover Park. The Glover Park Group, which boasts a team including Victoria Esser, Joshua Gross, and Brett O’Brien, is actively engaged with the UAE Embassy in Washington and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

The UAE’s strategic moves to navigate complex international challenges underscore the significance of public relations and advocacy efforts in shaping diplomatic relations and perceptions on the global stage.

Brookings Institution (Pro KSA) Previous post Profile: Brookings Institution (Pro KSA)
UAE's Expanding Influence Strategy Amidst Gulf Dynamics Next post UAE’s Expanding Influence Strategy Amidst Gulf Dynamics