McCain Institute cozies up to Qatar front groups

· April 4, 2019  
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The Decision Theatre at the McCain Institute
Wikimedia Commons

Cindy McCain, the widow of deceased Republican Sen. John McCain, and the McCain Institute have continued to cozy up to two shadowy front groups that work to advance the interests of a theocratic Middle Eastern regime.

Over the past few years, Mrs. McCain and the McCain Institute have ramped up partnerships on many fronts with the Sports Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA), which describes itself as an “independent coalition aiming to reform the integrity and governance of sport,” and its founder, the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), which claims to have similar goals. 

Whistleblowers, however, have shown that while SIGA and ICSS claim to be sports-oriented organizations, they merely act as a front for more nefarious purposes. SIGA, which was formed by ICSS, a group that is entirely controlled by the nation of Qatar, has created tremendous inroads in the United States thanks to the support of the McCain family. Since SIGA’s 2017 founding, Cindy McCain and the McCain Institute have offered SIGA the legitimacy it needs to pursue further partnerships and collaboration with international brands such as Mastercard and Deloitte and high-profile international organizations like UNESCO.

Qatar’s continuing investments in the sports world hardly have anything to do with sports. As The New York Times explained in a seminal piece Thursday, sports is a key function of Qatar’s soft power strategy. 

“Qatar’s investments — especially in luxury, sports and the arts — aren’t just about prestige and profits,” Giorgio Cafiero, who heads Washington-based consultancy Gulf State Analytics, tells the Times. “They are also about hearts and minds, and anchored in forging deep alliances that give outside players a greater stake in the continuation of Qatar as an independent state.”

Cindy McCain is a founding member of SIGA and currently sits on its SIGA council alongside Mohammed Hanzab, who chairs ICSS, which formed SIGA. It is unclear whether Mrs. McCain is paid to sit on the board of SIGA.

A few months ago, the McCain Institute, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and ICSS (the Qatari front group), co-hosted a “Securing Sport 2018” conference, which was supported by the Qatari Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The McCain Institute has for the past few years co-hosted other events with ICSS and SIGA, offering credibility to the Qatari front groups, which appear ultimately intended to expand Qatar’s influence abroad and protect its selection for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The McCain family ties to Qatar go back many years, but a strong bond began to form during the 2011 Arab Spring.

At a 2011 address at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Sen. McCain praised Qatar for its role in fostering the Arab Spring. 

Unfortunately, the Arab Spring quickly became an Islamist Winter. The supposed democracy movement empowered Islamist and jihadi groups with the political momentum to topple U.S. allies and sow chaos in the region. 

Over the next few years, McCain continued to offer strong support to Qatar and other nations’ arming and funding of “rebel” jihadist groups in Syria and Libya. 

In 2017, when Qatar’s Gulf neighbors boycotted Doha, demanding that it stop funding terror, McCain wrote an op-ed in the New York Times urging the sides to settle their difference in the face of “more pressing threats,” such as Russia. 

The McCain Institute has not only cozied up to Qatari front groups, but plenty of other dictatorial nations. The nonprofit outfit, like the Clinton Foundation, has been accused of acting as a crony pseudo-international humanitarian network that ends up empowering the world’s worst theocratic regimes. However, its particular affinity for the nation of Qatar has gone relatively unnoticed in the media.

In 2017, at the McCain Institute’s high-level Sedona Forum, “Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s Ambassador to the U.S., was invited to mingle with the McCain Institute’s pre-selected guests,” the Daily Caller reported.

The McCain Institute frequently highlights its claimed efforts in combatting human trafficking. Given that it is such a high-priority item for the organization, its decision to partner with Qatari institutions may strike many as odd, because Qatar remains the equivalent of a modern slave state for non-Qatari workers in the country. Qatar’s usage of forced labor to build its World Cup sites has been described as a “human trafficking nightmare.”

Nonetheless, the McCain institute has been embedded with SIGA and other Qatar-linked groups since the beginning.

“The McCain Institute shares SIGA’s belief that a cohesive effort is needed to restore trust in the sports industry, and are therefore proud to be one of the organisation’s founding members,” reads a press release from the McCain Institute website, touting its partnership with the Qatar-created front in working to supposedly combat human trafficking, which as stated above, is a government-sanctioned epidemic in Qatar. 

The McCain Institute claims to be transparent about its funding mechanisms. However, it shields some of its donors with anonymity, so it’s unclear whether Qatar-backed institutions donate directly to the organization. The McCain Institute does reveal that it has received “two anonymous donations in support of its efforts countering human trafficking.”

Cindy McCain and the McCain Institute have partnered with elements of the Qatari regime and offered its front groups the political legitimacy that it needs to expand its nefarious influence inside the United States, to the detriment of U.S. citizens and freedom-loving people throughout the world.

The McCain Institute did not respond to a request for comment.


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Author: Jordan Schachtel

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review and editor of The Dossier for Blaze Media. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.