As a presidential candidate, the amount of foreign cash the Clintons have amassed from the Persian Gulf states is “simply unprecedented,” says national security analyst Patrick Poole.
“These regimes are buying access. You’ve got the Saudis. You’ve got the Kuwaitis, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. There are massive conflicts of interest. It’s beyond comprehension,” Poole told TheDCNF in an interview.
Overall, the Clinton Foundation has received upwards of $85 million in donations from five Persian Gulf states and their monarchs, according to the foundation’s website.
Activist groups have charged the five states — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — committed numerous human rights abuses.
For years, the accusations have centered on the Persian Gulf practice of importing hundreds of thousands of poor foreign laborers who work for low wages, including hundreds of thousands of female “domestic workers” who have no labor rights and often face exploitation and sexual abuse.
The ongoing Clinton financial relationship with despotic Persian Gulf states could hurt Hillary as a supporter of labor rights and tarnish her image as a vigorous supporter of women.
Yet as secretary of state, Clinton consciously and actively sought to legitimize the sheikdoms through many new Department of State programs.
It’s unclear what kind of promises or concessions the Clintons may have given the monarchs in return for their lavish financial support over the years, but last month the candidate reversed her long-standing support for fracking.
Hillary’s new position, unveiled last month at a CNN presidential debate with Democratic opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, put her in alignment with the Gulf State policy that opposes North American oil and gas fracking.
The FBI has reportedly launched a second investigation of the former secretary in addition to its probe of her private email server. This investigation is looking into “political corruption” and is seeking evidence where former Secretary Clinton may have offered official government favors to foundation donors.
Most troubling for Hillary, however, could be Bill’s personal, five-year business partnership with Dubai’s authoritarian ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin-Rashid al-Maktoum and his overall friendship with the rulers of the United Arab Emirates — a confederation of states that includes Dubai.
During Bill’s partnership with bin-Rashid, his stature rose. He now is the undisputed ruler of Dubai and the prime minister of the UAE.
The former president and bin-Rashid did their private financial deals with a California-based private equity fund called Yucaipa Partners, which is owned by billionaire and Democratic funder Ron Burkle. The three became business partners and sought to create an offshore sovereign wealth fund for Yucaipa.
Clinton ended his partnership with the investment firm five years later, but not before pocketing at least $15 million in “guaranteed payments” from the company, according to his personal tax returns from 2003 to 2008. The former president allegedly received another $20 million of “walking away money” to leave the partnership, according to The Daily Beast.
Today, Bill is a regular visitor to Dubai. His friend bin-Rashid runs Dubai as an absolute monarchy where there are no elections. Human rights groups deplore the labor practices of both Dubai and the UAE for the exploitation of at least 250,000 foreign laborers.
The International Labor Organization (ILO), founded by Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor after World War I and now organized labor’s main international labor body, has continued to criticize labor conditions in the Persian Gulf states.
Its 2016 “World Employment and Social Outlook” report stated the governments in the Persian Gulf use “forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and the worst forms of child labour”
“Given the heavy reliance on migrant workers, the risk of forced labour or trafficking in the Arab States cannot be ignored,” the ILO concluded.
A 2014 Human Rights Watch report also focused on the 146,000 female migrant workers who work in the United Arab Emirates. The human rights group charged the women “suffered abuses that amounted to forced labor and trafficking.”
Migrant workers are excluded from the country’s labor laws. “Domestic workers have virtually no legal safeguards governing their employment,” the activist group reported.
The Clinton Foundation’s ties go beyond support from governments. Four billionaire Saudis, along with groups the Dubai Foundation and Friends of Saudi Arabia, contributed another $30 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the foundation’s website.
Bill’s Dubai links run deeper than just his dealings with sheikhs. Between 2011 and 2014, he received $5.6 million from the Dubai-based company GEMS Education for serving as the “honorary chairman.”
The American University of Dubai has a William Jefferson Clinton Scholars program and the former president has been a frequent guest of the university.
When she was secretary of state, Hillary also strengthened the Clinton-UAE relationship. The State Department approved Bill’s speaking engagements to the UAE, which delivered $1.1 million to him in speaking fees.
In 2005, Bill personally advised Dubai on the controversial deal where the emirate would own six U.S. ports. The deal was vigorously opposed by intelligence officials who viewed the port as vulnerable to terrorist infiltration. Facing ferocious opposition in Congress, Dubai withdrew its effort to purchase the U.S. ports.
Arab reformers have harshly criticized Clinton’s State Department programs designed to bolster the image of the UAE and legitimize the fortunes of many monarchies in the gulf.
“The fruit of Clinton’s own policy basically empowered the old regimes,” charges Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and co-founder of the Muslim Reform movement.
Looking back at her four years as secretary of state, Jasser told TheDCNF, “I could not see anywhere where she empowered reformers.” He said Bill and Hillary are part of the “global establishment” that seeks the status quo.
“The ‘global establishment’ has suffocated the peoples of these countries for generations,” he told TheDCNF. “And Hillary Clinton is part of the global establishment of monarchs, autocrats and dictators.”
Hillary launched major initiatives that were welcomed by the UAE. In September 2012, she personally hosted at the State Department a conference attended by executives from 90 American companies, called the Global Infrastructure Conference. It was attended by eight top UAE leaders.
The former secretary also heavily promoted and spoke before a December 2012 State Department program called the “Third Global Entrepreneurship Summit with Entrepreneurial Ventures of Arabia,” which was held in the UAE. The Persian Gulf nation called the State Department’s conference, “UAE’s flagship platform for innovation.”
Her effort helped legitimize the UAE’s poor global image. A 2015 Freedom House report flatly ranked UAE as “not free.” On a scale where one was “best” and a seven “worst,” Freedom House ranked the UAE a six for civil liberties, political rights and overall freedom.
During Hillary’s term, the U.S. consulate in the UAE also organized with senior UAE officials a trade mission that traveled across the United States seeking U.S. investment.
In December 2011, Hillary personally led a U.S. delegation to the UAE and met bin-Rashid at his Zabeel Palace with UAE Foreign Minister and de facto leader Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Zayed family gave between $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the foundation’s web site.
The Clinton Foundation seems to have tolerated extremist Islamists in their Middle East offices. An Egyptian court sentenced a former top Clinton Foundation employee, Gehed el-Haddad, to life imprisonment in April 2015 for “inciting violence” and supporting an Islamist protest against the military-led ousting of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
From 2007 to 2012 el-Haddad was a Cairo city director of the Clinton Foundation in Egypt and ran its in-country office as well as directed communications.
El-Haddad had a well-known reputation for promoting radical Islam. He formally joined Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party in May 2011 as a senior adviser for foreign affairs, overlapping for more than a year during his tenure with the Clinton Foundation, according to his Linked-In social media page.
Clinton also could be doing the bidding for the Gulf States on domestic issues. As previously stated, she recently reversed her support for fracking and announced her opposition to it.
Hydraulic fracturing of shale has turned the United States from an importer of oil and gas to an exporter, which threatens oil producing states, but particularly oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and the gulf states.
A 2014 left-wing Mother Jones Magazine article lashed out at Clinton’s aggressive promotion of fracking overseas. “Under her leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe,” it charged.
It was particularly critical of her convening a State Department shale oil conference in August 2010 that was closed to the press. “The media was barred from attending, and officials refused to reveal basic information, including which countries took part,” Mother Jones reported.
In a March 6 CNN debate, however, Clinton reversed her fracking position and laid out many conditions she would impose as president on the continuation of fracking.
“By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” she told the audience.
Richard Rahn of the Institute for Global Economic Growth said he believes Hillary changed her tune on fracking in part to appease the sheikhs in the gulf.
“The Clinton’s always do everything in a calculated manner. ‘Ok, I go after fracking, why not go ahead and make my environmental friends happy, but at the same time reap the benefits from foreign source income by making my Sheikh’s happy,’” he told TheDCNF.
Dr. Steven J. Allen, vice president of the Capital Research Center, which monitors dark money flows to advocacy groups, agreed.
“Why would she take a position on fracking that would alienate people in places like Pennsylvania after it’s not plausible that Bernie could get the nomination,” Allen asked.
“The oil states in the Middle East would be interested in our not attaining energy independence. So fracking would be something they would be against and would be quite happy with her reversal,” he said.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow asked Clinton in March if she should shut down the Clinton Foundation. “Is there a case to be made, an ethical case to be made that the Clinton Foundation and the global initiative should essentially be wound down as a family foundation while you run for president,” she asked the Democratic candidate. “I think it is not unreasonable to suspect that people may give donations to The Clinton Foundation hoping that they will favorably influence your opinion toward them, as a presidential candidate, or eventually as president if you’re elected.”
Clinton sidestepped the question.
The Clinton campaign did not reply to an email request for comment from TheDCNF on its relationship with Persian Gulf leaders.