The Qatargate scandal, a gripping tale of alleged corruption and interference involving Qatar within the European Union (EU), has taken a shocking twist with the emergence of documents pointing to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the mastermind behind the scandal. Swiss detective agency ALP Services, working on behalf of UAE’s intelligence services, embarked on a strategic campaign aimed at countering Qatar’s influence in the EU. This operation, codenamed Constellation, sought to target European politicians and pressure groups allegedly supporting Qatar, utilizing questionable tactics to sway European institutions.
Abu Dhabi’s Bold Strategy:
In October 2018, ALP Services engaged in discussions with UAE’s secret agent Sheikh Matar and Sheikh Ali Saeed Al Neyadi, advisor to the UAE’s head of national security. Collaborating with their affluent UAE client, ALP Services devised a bold and highly effective plan to combat Qatar’s influence in Europe. The agency was assigned the task of compiling a comprehensive list of European representatives and lobbyists suspected of working for Qatar, laying the groundwork for a compelling campaign to influence the EU.
The Constellation Project:
Under the Constellation project, ALP Services presented a budget proposal to the UAE. The preliminary work was estimated to cost 350,000 euros, with additional monthly expenses ranging from 150,000 to 450,000 euros, depending on the number of targeted individuals or groups. The agency compiled a list of elected officials and lobbyists allegedly associated with Qatar, laying the groundwork for their campaign to influence EU institutions.
Intrigues and Disinformation:
ALP Services resorted to deceptive tactics in their efforts to sway far-right deputies in the EU, including the current President of the French National Rally, Jordan Bardella. While the agency boasted about the achievements of their Constellation project, it heavily relied on public information and questionable methods to support their claims and fulfill the desires of the UAE.
Targeting Avisa Partners and Sihem Souid:
ALP Services viewed Avisa Partners, a rival intelligence firm, as a significant threat to the UAE’s counter-lobbying efforts. Avisa was accused of employing questionable practices, such as disseminating false articles and conducting manipulative online campaigns. Additionally, ALP Services identified Sihem Souid, a former French police officer responsible for managing public relations for Qatar in France and other French-speaking countries, as a key player in the covert lobbying activities in Brussels.
Intrusive Tactics and Media Influence:
The Swiss agency resorted to extreme measures, including covert and intrusive operations, to target individuals believed to be intermediaries for Qatar. ALP Services even went as far as photographing Souid’s residence and subsequently sending fabricated emails to far-right MEP Jordan Bardella in an attempt to generate pro-Qatar stories in the media. However, the response from the MEP did not indicate any definitive commitment.
Implication of the EU-Qatar Friendship Group:
ALP Services compiled a list of suspected members of the EU-Qatar Friendship Group, which included MEPs Eva Kaili and Marc Tarabella, both of whom later emerged as central figures in the Qatargate scandal. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the reports produced by the agency often contained misinformation and baseless assumptions.
A Costly Investment in the Campaign:
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) spared no expense when it came to the ALP Services Constellation project, shelling out a staggering 218,000 euros. These funds were cleverly channeled through Ariaf, a front company for the intelligence services.
Uncertain Progress and Questionable Commitments:
While ALP Services had plans to move forward with the second phase of the Constellation project, it remains uncertain whether they actually did. The agency made a commitment to persistently target alleged Qatari lobbies within the European Union (EU) and impede their activities.
The revelation of documents implicating the UAE in orchestrating the Qatargate scandal raises serious concerns about the utilization of covert intelligence agencies to manipulate democratic processes within the EU. The questionable tactics employed by ALP Services and the UAE’s interference in European affairs emphasize the urgent need for transparency and vigilance in countering attempts to manipulate and undermine the democratic principles that form the foundation of the EU. Thorough investigations into the extent of the UAE’s involvement in Qatargate are imperative to preserve the integrity of European politics and safeguard against external influences seeking to exploit the system for their own benefit.