Wednesday, November 2, 2016

UAE Embassy Paid CAP 700K for Favorable Think Tank Report?

Another day and another pay-for-play scheme at a Washington think tank.  The most recent example comes from LobeLog, a blog named after longtime journalist Jim Lobe.  Here are some excerpts:

...Now it turns out that the foreign ministry of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may well have helped draft the latest Middle East report by the “liberal” Center for American Progress (CAP). (The hyper-interventionist and highly confusing Washington Post has since endorsed the report in its lead editorial Sunday.)
Eli [Clifton] made a startling discovery in plain view within the report itself. One of its co-authors, Muath Al Wari, currently a “Senior Policy Analyst with the National Security and International Policy Team” at CAP, served in the UAE Embassy in Washington from 2009 and 2011 and, more recently, at “the Supreme National Security Council of the United Arab Emirates, where he focused on regional security in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings.”
Al Wari, who incidentally authored two reports about the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) since joining CAP, helped develop the Emirates’ strategy on the Arab Spring, a movement that CAP and Katulis generally welcomed as offering an unprecedented opportunity for democratization, liberalization, and accountability throughout the region.
Tom Caiazza, associate director of media relations at CAP, told LobeLog that “The Embassy of the UAE in DC contributed $699,000 to CAP in 2016 with no contributions coming in 2015.” That contribution wasn’t disclosed in the report as posing a potential conflict of interest.

The piece, which was co-written by reporter Eli Clifton, goes on to say that the revelations raise serious questions about how much financial and other contributions by certain countries are influencing think tanks.

Needless to say, the UAE and numerous other countries have collectively donated millions of dollars to Washington's most powerful think tanks over the years and have strong relations with top think tank chiefs.

The above-mentioned CAP report was released just as think tanks have begun to ramp up production of policy papers meant to influence the new administration.

One thing is clear: The media needs to do a better job in citing and referencing think tanks and think tank scholars.

More on the CAP report can be found from The Intercept's Zaid Jilani in a piece entitled "At Hillary Clinton's Favorite Think Tank, a Doubling Down on Anti-Iran, Pro-Saudi Policy."  Jim Lobe also wrote a previous piece entitled "For the Middle East, It's the Center for American Regress."

More on the funding of think tanks by Gulf countries can be found here (via Quorum Centre).  More on the rampant pay-for-play culture at think tanks can be found here.