HomeMiddle EastQatar and its association with Brookings Institution: President Allen put on leave...

Qatar and its association with Brookings Institution: President Allen put on leave amid FBI probe into lobbying charges

John R. Allen, the retired four-star general who at a time commanded American troops in Afghanistan, has been placed on administrative leave as President of the prestigious Brookings Institution amid a federal investigation around his alleged lobbying for the government of Qatar. The announcement was made by the think tank on Wednesday.

The report by The New York Times is based on filings by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) to a court and linked to Allen’s role in 2017 when he had retired from military service from Afghanistan and was yet to be tapped in to join Brookings.

Allen had collaborated with Richard Olson, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, and Imaad Zuberi, a Pakistani-American venture capitalist and political fundraiser, who is currently serving a prison sentence for fraudulent records in order to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying US government officials, evading tax and illegal campaign contributions.

It is to be noted that under US law, lobbyists working for foreign governments are required to register with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) which Allen had intentionally not done.

Link to Qatar

“Allen’s behind-the-scenes work involved traveling to Qatar and meeting with the country’s top officials to offer them advice on how to influence U.S. policy, as well as promoting Qatar’s point of view to top White House officials and Congress,” according to the FBI affidavit.

Allen has been reported to be allegedly involved in lobbying to help Qatar against Saudi Arabia’s economic embargo. According to the filings by the New York Times, Allen travelled to Doha, where he negotiated a payment of $20,000 as speaking fees, and then also went on to pursue another contract which would have brought million dollars to him, but it is not clear if he received it. 

Brookings Doha Centre

Brookings, one of the most influential think thanks in the US, has had strong ties to Qatar. In 2007, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs had agreed to fund a Brookings-backed offshoot in the country called the Brookings Doha Center. The Qatari government said in 2012 in a news release that the center’s role included “reflecting the bright image of Qatar in the international media, especially the American ones,” according to a New York Times report. The report also showed Qatar had given Brookings $14.4 million in donations over a period of four years.

Though highly prestigious, the alleged links with Qatar have put Brookings Institution into deep zone of questioning and allegations. For the corruption charges, it would be befitting to close down the Brookings Doha Centre.

Latest articles