Who funded MEK-UANI Conference?
Email series suggests UAE and Saudi Arabia funded anti-Iran US lobby
October 03, 2019
A report by The Tehran Times states evidence has emerged suggesting that the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are involved in financing an anti-Iranian US lobby.
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Speaking last week at United Against Nuclear Iran’s (UANI) annual conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the administration was expanding its pressure campaign, targeting Chinese entities believed to be transporting Iranian oil. “[W]e’re telling China and all nations, know that we will sanction every violation of sanctionable activity,” said Pompeo.
Although it was previously unclear who was behind UANI, LobeLog, a website operating out of ETH Zurich in Switzerland, has leaked a series of emails that suggest the “non-governmental” anti-Iran group may not be as non-governmental at all.
In the conference where Pompeo made his tirade against Iran, in attendance included Bahraini Ambassador to the U.S. Sheikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Saudi Minister of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sahban, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, and U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker. UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba was also visible in the audience. Billionaire Thomas Kaplan, who was shown to be a major funder of UANI in 2013, was also in attendance.
The emails show the anti-Iran group members attempting to connect US foreign policymakers with members of the royal families of both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia . According to documents, 35$ million were channeled into projects that sought to increase anti-Iran and anti-Qatar advocacy pressures. The hefty capital available for the group suggests that it is an influential lobby in determining US foreign policy.
UANI has also hosted conferences involving an Iranian opposition listed as “terrorist” by both Iran and the United States, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK). The Tehran Times highlights that this fact was barely pursued by US authorities, which otherwise would have harsh consequences for non-governmental organisations affiliated with terrorist organisations. This is said to be indicative of both the power of the UANI, and the dangerous nature of it as a lobbying force.