With plans to step up its grotesque war in Yemen and the first major meeting of defense ministers for the 41-nation military alliance it leads fast approaching, it’s no wonder the Saudi government has called upon public relations firm Burson-Marsteller for its services.
The New York-based company, known as one of the world’s most controversial public relations firms, has now become the latest Western PR firm to land on Saudi Arabia’s payroll. They’ve been hired with the specific intent of improving the image of the so-called Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism – an alliance occasionally referred to by the nickname “Muslim NATO,” as it is modeled after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The alliance, founded in late 2015, was created by the Saudis in partnership with 34 Muslim majority nations with the intention of sharing information and training, equipping and providing forces needed to combat Daesh (ISIS) militants who are active in Iraq and Syria, as well as fighting “any terrorist group that appears in front” of the alliance. The move was welcomed by the Obama administration, which had been seeking greater regional involvement in the U.S.-led campaign to fight Daesh.
The praise bestowed upon the alliance by Obama administration officials was unusual, given that the Obama State Department was aware at the time that Saudi Arabia provides “clandestine financial and logistic support” to Daesh and other extremist terrorist groups that are active in Syria and Iraq.
In addition, according to a leaked memo authored by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Saudi Arabia is known to the State Department to be the world’s largest funder of Wahhabi militant groups worldwide, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Other members of the Islamic military alliance – Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – were also listed as countries known to be funding Wahhabi terrorists.
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