Brookings helped Riyadh during Jamal Khashoggi crisis: report

TEHRAN, Nov. 02 (MNA) – The Brookings Institution has secretly worked with an influential Saudi institution close to the Saudi Crown Prince to help Riyadh get out of the crisis that emerged after brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington DC, has secretly worked with an influential Saudi institution close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to help Riyadh craft better public policy in the midst of the kerfuffle over the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Tehran Times has revealed in a report.

During the Khashoggi drama, which put huge, global pressure on the Saudi crown prince, Bookings adopted a more or less hawkish position on bin Salman for his role in the heart-wrenching killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. 

“In murdering Khashoggi, the Saudi government violated a diplomatic norm of long-standing: that governments do not go after their critics on foreign soil,” wrote one Brookings senior fellow, underlining that the U.S. should not stop at imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia. 

Another fellow called for the U.S. to use its massive arms sales to Riyadh as leverage against bin Salman. 

But behind the scenes, Brookings, including some of its outspoken senior officials at the time, was busy doing business with a bin Salman apparatchik who enjoys great influence at the Saudi Royal Court.

In early December 2017, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Brookings Institution and the Saudi Decision Support Center (DSC) to boost cooperation between Brookings and Saudi think tanks. Two senior officials close to DSC Chairman of the Board Yasir Al Rumayyan and Brooking President Johan Allen played a key role in signing the MOU, which is to last for five years, meaning it is still in force. 

Progressive hypocrisy: Brookings worked with Riyadh during Khashoggi murder

A piece of the document showing the signatures of Al Rumayyan and Allen on the bottom of the contract between the DSC and Brookings.

In line with the MOU, Brookings drafted a Project Agreement to outline the areas of cooperation between the two sides. The core objective of the Project is for Brookings to evaluate the Saudi think tank sector and assess the strengths, weaknesses, and viability of Saudi think tanks. It also aimed to assess the ways for Saudis to achieve greater impact. 

In fact, the Project was an attempt by Brookings to pitch their services to the Saudi Royal Court. And they succeeded in that. 

The Project convinced the Saudis to splash out a whopping US$ 700,000 on a contract with Brookings. Under the contract, Brookings pledged to assess if Saudi think tanks are addressing the most important issues and informing policy debate, among other issues.

The contract was signed by DSC Chairman of the Board Yasir Al Rumayyan and Brooking President Johan Allen and continued well into the tragedy of Khashoggi. Al Rumayyan signed the contract in mid-December 2017 while Allen signed it in mid-February 2018. 

A few months later, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and never came out. It was then when Brookings started inveighing against bin Salman while receiving greenbacks from him.

For instance, some Brookings experts grumbled that the Trump administration had in effect tried to subcontract policy in the region to Saudi Arabia but bin Salman instead brought headaches for Washington. Brookings and its experts kept voicing criticism against bin Salman. Most recently, Allen called for a change in U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia, particularly its war in Yemen.

But documents seen by the Tehran Times show Allen signed the contract with Al Rumayyan. According to the documents, which have been leaked by people close to Al Rumayyan, many Brookings experts and staff received tens of thousands of dollars under the contract. One Brookings official received more than $50,000 from Saudi Arabia as per Brookings’ contract with the DSC. 

The DSC is headed by Al Rumayyan. It defines itself as “a center to support decision-making and public policies, affiliated to the Royal Court organizationally, and aims to support decision-making in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and improve its effectiveness and efficiency in various fields, through scientific and practical mechanisms and means that support decision-making.”

Hady Amr, a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, received the lion’s share from the Saudi contract. Amr earned more than $110,000.

The contract also handed Khaled Elgindy, a nonresident senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, and Charlotte Baldwin, a managing director at Brookings, more than $35,000 and $10,000 respectively, according to the documents seen by the Tehran Times. 

The Brookings employees used paid-up “business class” flights from Washington to Riyadh and vice versa. And they might even have tweeted expressions of sympathy with Khashoggi during these flights.


News Code 180313


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