The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

On Egyptian lobbying in the US

From the same collection of ProPublica articles on foreign lobbying in the US as the post on Morocco, here is a spotlight on Egypt's efforts:

Egypt, historically one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, mounted a large lobbying effort, employing PLM Group — a joint venture of two well-connected K Street firms, the Podesta Group, headed by Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, and the Livingston Group, founded by former Republican Rep. Robert Livingston of Louisiana — to preserve that funding between October 2007 and October 2008. The stakes are not small: Egypt has received more than $50 billion from the United States since 1975.

The United States agreed to large foreign aid payments to Egypt and Israel in 1978 following the historic peace agreement negotiated by Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. As the Arab nation’s economy has eroded, excess American aid has allowed it to put off much-needed changes rather than spur them, critics say.

Lobbyists for Egypt had at least 279 contacts on military issues, the bulk of which occurred when PLM Group accompanied delegations of Egyptian military officers to meet members of Congress, administration officials and representatives from defense contractors — including BAE Systems, General Dynamics, General Electric, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. All five have done business with the Egyptian government, selling tanks, fighter jets, howitzers and radar arrays to its military. At the time of the meeting with the contractors, Podesta Group counted BAE Systems, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin among its clients, while the Livingston Group represented Raytheon.

Incidentally, Egypt is ranked at #6 globally in terms of the number of contacts with Congress.

The info used for this reporting is made available by, through which you can look at individual countries' records. Here's the page for Egypt, which shows three Egyptian lobbying clients: the government, the government-backed textile exporters' association Alcotex, and -- this is a surprise -- the steel magnate and Gamal Mubarak acolyte Ahmed Ezz.

If you look at the page for Ahmed Ezz is says that Ezz paid the communication firm Qorvis for its work promoting the National Democratic Party conference in 2007. Which confirms what is widely said about Ezz: he finances the NDP out of his personal pocket; why else would the party not pay its PR firm itself? Here you have the cronyism of Egyptian politics in black-and-white.