Qatar leaders embraces killing of Jews and loses some, but not all, American lobbyists

Washington Free Beacon:
After multiple people central to Qatar's efforts to win influence in the United States severed ties with the Persian Gulf country this week, influential U.S. lobbyists with connections to Doha have not said whether they plan to follow suit.

Key figures who helped Qatar improve its standing in the U.S., make politically useful investments, and gain favor with the American Jewish community ended their relationships with the Qatari government after the country's leader embraced a prominent Islamic scholar who has called for the killing of Jews and Americans at an event last week.

However, at least two big-name lobbyists receiving money from Qatar are not saying whether they'll do the same.

Neither Jim Courtovich, Washington-based lobbyist and founder and managing partner of Sphere Consulting, nor Florida-based lobbyist Brian Ballard, president of Ballard Partners, responded to requests for comment on details of their business relations with Qatar and whether they are considering amending or terminating those relations.

Courtovich previously signed a deal to represent Qatar as a lobbying client, according to a Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing from February. Under the deal, Sphere Consulting's sister firm, Sphere Government Relations, receives $40,000 a month and "provide[s] government and public relations services for Qatar with regard to bilateral issues pertaining to the relationship between Qatar and the United States. Such services may include outreach to the United States Congress, the federal government, and the media."

Ballard Partners earlier this year signed a contract with Qatar's embassy in the United States under which the firm "provide[s] strategic consulting and advocacy services" to the embassy "in connection with its business with the executive agencies of Florida governmental [and] private entities located within the state of Florida and the United States government." Such services can cover areas including "enhancing U.S.-Qatar bilateral ties, developing trade, investment, and business opportunities."

The agreement became effective on March 29 and runs through March 31 of next year. Under the contract's terms, the Qatari embassy pays Ballard's firm $175,000 a month for its duration, not including "reasonable costs associated with the representation" such as travel expenses. The second $175,000 monthly payment was due on May 1. It is unclear whether the firm intends to remain in the agreement for the full year or whether it has received payment beyond the initial $175,000 upon signing the contract.

Multiple top Qatari agents recently cut ties with Qatar, Politico reported Thursday. New York businessman Joey Allaham, a restaurateur born in Syria, had helped Qatar gain favor with the American Jewish community and make "politically useful investments" until he ended his relationship with the country.

"Qatar enjoys portraying themselves as the purveyor of peace in the region, but this could not be further from the truth," Allaham told Politico.
Qatar is already on thin ice because of alleged ties to terrorism and has been sanctioned by other Arab countries because of its ties to Iran and to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Their ties to the Palestinians is also a negative.  They do host a US base in the Middle East, but Congress may wish to look at that arrangement if the country is tied to genocidal preachers of hate.


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