The United Arab Emirates is engaged in a longstanding espionage attempt to compromise the United States government, according to three intelligence officials interviewed by The Washington Post.
The Gulf Arab nation’s interference in American politics takes the form of political bribery as well as more traditional espionage, as per a report reviewed by the officials in question, according to the Post.
Agents of the Middle Eastern kingdom rely on “campaign contributions, susceptibility to powerful lobbying firms and lax enforcement of disclosure laws intended to guard against interference by foreign governments” according to a verbal summary of the report described to the Post and published Saturday.
Lobbyists for the Emirates have been paid more than $154 million by the country’s government since 2016, according to the Post’s summary of the report.
The country has directed even more money towards universities and think tanks, with an expectation that they’ll produce content amenable to Emirati interests.
The United Arab Emirates is nominally friendly to the United States, with three American military bases in the nation and 5,000 American service members stationed there, according to the American Security Project.
The interference isn’t new.
The document on Emirati espionage operations described subterfuge that dates back through multiple presidential administrations, according to the New York Post.
The report on the espionage described well-financed operations that have succeeded in bribing three former U.S. intelligence and military officials to spy on American politicians, journalists and American companies to advance Emirati interests.
Intelligence sources didn’t provide a copy of the report on Emirati subterfuge to The Washington Post directly.
Three former American intelligence and military officials were convicted of violating export laws by working for a state-controlled Emirati company that hacked computer systems in America and around the world last year, according to the Associated Press.
The oil-wealthy nation has responded to global energy shortages by cutting its own production, according to Reuters.
The UAE isn’t a democracy.
Power in the nation is held by a dynastic council of hereditary emirs, and the country holds a dismal 17/100 score in Freedom House’s democratic rankings.
The UAE and its neighbor Saudi Arabia have an antagonistic relationship with Iran, and seek American security assistance with hopes of influencing their Shia Muslim rival.
The hesitance of Gulf Arab nations to produce the oil needed to meet American energy needs has spurred some leaders to question the longstanding security relationship.
Three Democrats introduced legislation that would withdraw all American personnel from Saudi Arabia and the UAE in October, according to Military.com.
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