DATAPOINTS

$0

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

1

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

8

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#17 (tie)

Qorvis Communications
(for Yemen)

Hired: Feb. 2019
Contract: $60,000/month

NEW Registered agent
Oliver Corbishley

Oliver Corbishley, an account executive at Qorvis Communications, is now representing Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Muslim World League. The league is based in Mecca and receives funding from Saudi Arabia.

Southern Transitional Council (US), Ltd.

Registered: May 2018

NEW Informational materials

The head of the Southern Transition Council — a separatist movement in Yemen — cannot visit the United States because of the Donald Trump administration’s travel restrictions, newly released emails show. “Please note that on the visas, they are all still pending due to PP9465 (the visa ban), but they are being considered for a waiver — unfortunately, this can take some time,” Vanessa de Bruyn, a former Yemen desk officer at the State Department, told a representative of the council’s US office last month.

Yemen hires its own lobby shop as Saudi patron loses clout

Editor

Julian Pecquet

@JPecquet_ALM

jpecquet@al-monitor.com
bookmark

Julian Pecquet is the Washington Editor for Al-Monitor.

Posted: September 11, 2019

Yemen's government in exile in Riyadh has acquired its own representation as its patron Saudi Arabia loses clout in Washington.

The Yemeni Embassy in Washington retained Qorvis/MSLGroup in February for $60,000 per month to provide “public relations capacity building, media relations, events, content creation, stakeholder engagements, research and polling.” Qorvis has separately represented Saudi Arabia since 2002, touting the kingdom's intervention against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since 2015 as a humanitarian endeavor.

The most recent available lobbying records show that the firm's half-dozen registered agents for Yemen reached out to key lawmakers in February and March as Congress debated US participation in the war. These include the offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho; ranking member Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; and Middle East subcommittee Chairman Mitt Romney, R-Utah, as well as Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., the chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee's Near East panel.

Qorvis lobbyists also repeatedly emailed the offices of Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., the co-sponsors of legislation to end US support for the Yemen coalition. Both the House and Senate passed the resolution this spring in a bipartisan rebuke of the Saudi intervention's high civilian death toll but could not override President Donald Trump's veto. Democrats in the House and Senate, however, have vowed to continue the fight, notably by seeking to prohibit US funding for the war.

Lawmakers have also stepped in by seeking to block US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for use in the Yemen campaign. In an unprecedented move, Trump's State Department in May sought to bypass Congress by declaring an emergency with regard to Iran, only to have the Senate respond by voting to bar $8.1 billion in arms transfers to the Saudis and the Emiratis in another tacit bipartisan rebuke of the war.

In the end, Trump vetoed the Senate bill. But the president is also growing tired of the war: Late last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration wants to hold direct talks with the Houthis in Oman.

The Yemeni Embassy continues to receive support from Saudi lobbyists. Former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., of Hogan Lovells, for example, invited lawmakers to a Capitol Hill briefing on the Houthis' use of landmines on behalf of Ambassador Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak in June.

Yemen's Washington outreach is complicated by a separate lobbying push from the UAE-backed separatists of the Southern Transitional Council. The council paid Grassroots Political Consulting $135,000 from the time the contract began in January 2018 through its termination at the end of November to lobby Congress for South Yemen's “sovereignty and independence.”

And in May 2018, the council launched its own operations in Washington led by Abdulsalam Mused, who identifies as the director of the council's General Directorate of Foreign Affairs in the United States and Canada. Mused delivered remarks on Capitol Hill last September but does not appear to have filed any of the semi-annual activities logs required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

“We ask your support for our people's right to self-determination,” Mused said. “We are confident that solving the southern cause will positively contribute to the peace and security of the whole region.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Main lobbying firm:
Qorvis Communications

 

 

$0

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • Trump vetoes resolution to end US support for Yemen intervention
  • Trump seeks to bypass Congress on Yemen war arms sales
  • Southern secessionist push gains little traction in Washington
LOSSES
  • Congress seeks end to US support for Saudi-led intervention
  • Trump administration seeks direct talks with Houthis
  • Yemen patron Saudi Arabia loses clout in Washington

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