Saudi Arabia’s well-funded public relations apparatus moved quickly after Saturday’s explosive execution of Shiite political dissident Nimr al-Nimr to shape how the news is covered in the United States.
A Politico article about the rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran by Nahal Toosi...quoted three sources: the State Department, which provided a muted response to the executions; the Saudi government; and Fahad Nazer, identified as a “political analyst with JTG Inc.” Nazer defended the executions, saying that they served as a “message … aimed at Saudi Arabia’s own militants regardless of their sect.”
What Politico did not reveal was that Nazer is himself a former political analyst at the Saudi Embassy in Washington. He is currently a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, a think tank formed last year that discloses that it is fully funded by the Saudi Embassy and the United Arab Emirates.
An editorial published by the Wall Street Journal approvingly quoted Joseph Braude of the Foreign Policy Research Institute claiming that Nimr was a violent extremist who advocated a “military option” against Saudi Arabia. But as journalists and editors from the Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, the BBC, and other prominent outlets have reported, Nimr advocated nonviolence and encouraged his followers to protest peacefully. Braude did not provide any evidence for his claims beyond anonymous “Saudi sources.”
Braude is a contributor to several Saudi-owned media outlets, including Al Arabiya and Al Majalla, a magazine owned by a member of the Saudi royal family. Neither of these affiliations were disclosed in the Wall Street Journal editorial. (Braude was also convicted in 2004 of attempting to smuggle 4,000-year-old artifacts looted from the Iraqi National Museum after the fall of Baghdad into the United States.)
Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece on the above-mentioned Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW), and here is a biography of Fahad Nazer. Here is a biography of the above-mentioned Joseph Braude, a Senior Fellow at the Philadelphia-based think tank Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI).