Qatar spent millions in 2017 to influence Trump foreign policy - reports

L-R: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Saudi King Salman, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump, visit a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. / Sputnik

Qatar’s government spent more than $16 million during 2017 alone in an unconventional lobbying program to influence President Donald Trump into adopting policies desired by its leaders, media reported.

Because Trump often shuns typical policy-making processes special interest groups have changed tactics including advertising during the president’s favorite television shows, the Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday.

Qatari officials compiled a target list of 250 so-called Trump influencers, the report added, including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, conservative radio host John Batchelor, and lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

Earlier in August, the Intercept reported that US officials persuaded Saudi Arabia to call off a planned invasion of Qatar amid their diplomatic row.

In particular, then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed plan to invade and conquer Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain in June 2017 cut diplomatic ties with Qatar — which they accused of supporting terrorists — and closed down Qatar’s land, sea and air borders with Arab neighbors. At about that time, or shortly afterward, Qatari intelligence agents reportedly working inside Saudi Arabia claimed to have discovered the invasion plan and notified Tillerson.

Tillerson then reportedly made a series of phone calls urging Saudi officials not to take military action against Qatar — calls that US officials then described as an attempt to negotiate an end to the diplomatic rupture.

Sputnik