When you have money, you have access. When you have oil money, you have access to the most advanced intelligence gathering and infiltration methods the world over. At least, that is what an in-depth report from Foreign Policy has alleged. But consider that a report containing information from former CIA and intelligence sources may not tell the whole story, whatever that complete story may be.
The narrative is based around the tiny nation sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Oman, with a coastline buttressed by the Persian Gulf. To say that the United Arab Emirates is filthy rich doesn’t put a thorough perspective on the extent of wealth that oil has bestowed upon its relatively small populace. GDP per capita in the UAE is 324% higher than the world average. Home to one of the vacation destinations most desirous to Westerners, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates bestows several life-long perks on its citizens that are reminiscent of the nation’s abundant wealth.
Virtually any item or service is within their reach, and blueprints for the most secretive of American intelligence training and tactics apparently was on the wish list of Emirati leaders. As described by Foreign Policy, the hiring of former American intelligence community employees falls within the nation’s efforts to create ‘a professional intelligence cadre modeled after the West’s’.
In addition to $1,000 per day salary, intelligence officers who spoke to FP describe being put up in five-star hotels or villas in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi, an ultra-modern gem of a city which sits on a peninsula jutting out into the Gulf. After an exciting career as an intelligence operative, the lure of the money was second in comparison to the opportunity to continue interesting work for many.
That is, those that are truly ex intelligence operatives…
The timeline of UAE-CIA relations makes greater sense within the context of broader American-Emirati relations. The war of accusations between Qatar and more closely aligned nations Saudi Arabia and UAE over involvement in the September 11th attacks and funding of terrorism in general is unconvincing on all accounts. Qatar has accused the UAE of supporting the attacks, while the UAE has returned the accusation. The UAE has been alleged as the nation of origin of two of the hijackers and ‘had unknowingly served as a transit hub for the terrorists’ prior to 9/11, according to Foreign Policy. We know Saudi Arabia is guilty on both accounts as well. But America has chosen to ally itself with Saudi Arabia for decades, and the Kingdom of Saud announced in December that it was engaging in a formal diplomatic and military alliance with the UAE, leaving Qatar as the odd man out, logically so.
Israel, it has been speculated, would likely not be averse to engaging in further diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates. Considering their recent warming up to Saudi Arabia, the dominos falling in the Middle East suggest that Israel becoming friendlier with the relatively Westernized nation of the UAE only makes sense. Which is all to say, an American presence in the UAE – especially a presence by the notoriously secretive and preemptive CIA – may not be as surprising or independent of government relations as may first appear.
After all, in January of 2017, a raid in Yemen resulted in the death of an American Navy SEAL. Along for the mission was a squad of Emirati commandos. The history of American operations in the Middle East mean that it is highly unlikely Americans, and especially the elite SEALs, would go into any operation if they did not feel confident in the capability of their squad, which in this case included Emiratis. The Emiratis have remained loyal outside of military operations as well. They were one of the first nations to voice support for President Trump’s travel ban, and he has reciprocated support for America’s increasingly close ally in the Gulf. We have also reciprocated with arms.
'since 2011, the United States has sold the UAE more than $7 billion worth of advanced military hardware. In addition, the U.S. Air Force and Army operate out of the country’s Al Dhafra and Al Minhad air bases, while the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps routinely make use of various ports.’ (Medium)
And, unlike many the Middle Eastern countries where we have attempted to train goat herders and ramshackle militias as our allies in the past, Emiratis have a stronger predilection toward military service, making them a far more plausible recipient base for American tactical and intelligence techniques.
‘A country with only approximately 9.4 million residents in total, every male citizen of the UAE has to serve at least a years in its small military. If you go to secondary school your term of service is only 12 months.
The UAE’s forces are “arguably the best trained and most capable” among the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council political and economy bloc — aka the GCC — which also includes Saudi Arabia, according to the 2016 edition of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ The Military Balance.’
With this small, but effective and professional force, many American military officials have dubbed the UAE “little Sparta.” (Medium)
Now we know that America has seemingly had a hand in the fortification, if not the formation, of Little Sparta in the Gulf. Foreign Policy reports that a former clandestine CIA officer named Larry Sanchez has headed an operation for the past six years that has supplied training to UAE forces through cooperation with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke is a ‘longtime top advisor to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi as the CEO of Good Harbor Security Risk Management.’
Clarke has a long history in high-ranking intelligence positions, serving as President Reagan’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. Under George H.W. Bush Clarke was appointed to be his Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs. If Clarke is involved with the Crown Prince as a ‘longtime top advisor’, the UAE has been in our plans for a while, and providing intelligence/military training in some capacity has most likely been a part of that ‘advisor’ role for a significant period, likely longer than the six years being reported in FP.
In fact, according to one source which happens not to be very fond of Clarke, ‘Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney specifically asked him to coordinate relations with the UAE. Over the following decade, Clarke negotiated many deals with the Emirates, essentially becoming an agent of the UAE, and he was particularly close to the UAE royal family.’ This would have been in the 90s under the first Bush administration.
The source continues, drawing conclusions about U.S.-Emirati relations involving Clarke and his agency that go far deeper than the FP piece.
‘More importantly, authors Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin noted in their historic book False Profits that the CIA was involved in the founding of BCCI [bank]. The CIA connection to the origins of the BCCI terrorist network is revealing because the royal family of the UAE was also said to have played a primary role in the creation of BCCI. As the official U.S. government report on the subject pointed out, that there was no relationship more central to BCCI’s existence than that between BCCI and the ruling family of Abu Dhabi.’
Point is, the CIA and UAE go way back, back further than the six years noted by Foreign Policy. Whether or not training was in fact taking place in the time before the admitted six year period cannot be proven for certain, at least not by me. However, a close intelligence and defense connection between our nation and the UAE has been long-established.
Still, it’s significant that the media has now become privy to admissions that ‘former’ intelligence employees and ‘private contractors’ are actively training Emiratis. Notice no mention of ‘active’ employees in the FP report to which so many government-linked officials are willing to talk.
Draw your own conclusions about the veracity of the report’s claims or the span of the training connections between American and Emirati intelligence. But it is interesting that the Foreign Policy report rings of paranoid former employees concerned that the idea of their training of Emiratis would somehow threaten their livelihoods.
‘Six former intelligence officials and contractors described the training operation to FP, but they requested anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence operations, to shield friends and associates still working in the UAE, and to protect their future employability.’
Why the concern, considering Navy SEALs have conducted operations with Emirati commandos? Somebody is training them, and we know American troops are unlikely to go into combat with troops trained solely by Middle Eastern entities, lest they be Israeli. There is little doubt that we are closer with the UAE than ever, and that almost certainly includes military training, yet the FP report reflects an aura as if such training would be taboo.
Again, draw your own conclusions, but consider the source when it comes to the most secretive ranks of American intelligence, their allies, what they would let you know, when and why they’d let you know it, and more importantly, what they wouldn’t.