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Algeria pays David Keene a six-figure salary to lobby against Morocco

Algeria has paid a six-figure salary to American foreign lobbyist David Keene to defend its interests in Washington, a research group revealed. Keene was able to meet the US National Security Advisor John Bolton, weeks after he addressed the Western Sahara conflict.

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David Keene, the former president of the US National Rifle Association (NRA). / Ph. DR

A meeting with the National Security Advisor of the United States John Bolton was at the heart of the services rendered by an American lobbyist to Algeria, a Washington-based research group said in a detailed article published Wednesday.

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) revealed that David Keene, the former president of the US National Rifle Association (NRA), has received at least $180,000 from the Algerian government to improve the image of the country in the US since late last year.

Quoting the latest Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filling submitted by Keene, the NGO indicated that the lobbyist has relied on his Republican Party connections to support Algeria’s stance, especially when it comes to the Western Sahara conflict.

Keene, Bolton and the Western Sahara conflict

Keene was able to meet Bolton after the Donald Trump Administration announced that it is adopting a new Africa strategy. In fact, Keen and Bolton, who are former colleagues at NRA, met in January «shortly after Bolton expressed frustration that the conflict had not been resolved amid United Nations peace talks», the same source reported.

In addition to his meeting with Bolton, Keene said in his 2019 FARA filing that he worked on «projecting an up-to-date image of Algeria, her government and her role in regional and world affairs».

It is not the first time that the American lobbyist works for the Algerian government. The NGO indicated that between 2006 and 2008, Keene was hired by Algeria to promote the country’s stand on the Western Sahara issue. He «wrote an opinion piece blaming the U.S.-backed Morocco for the Western Sahara conflict a few years after terminating his registration», it added.

Morocco and foreign lobbyists in the US

While Algeria was relying on the services rendered by David Keene, Morocco opted for foreign lobbyist Richard Smotkin. The research group revealed that Rabat «has spent nearly $1.5 million targeting the U.S. last year according to Foreign Lobby Watch».

One of the latest lobbying activities conducted in the US for Morocco was related to the former vice president for the United States Joe Biden.

According to California-based daily Mercury News, Biden who is running for president, has refused two donations made by a lobbyist for Morocco. Biden’s presidential campaign has «refunded» a total of $2,800 donated by Jay Footlik, who operates as a lobbyist for the Moroccan and Qatari embassies.

Quoting a report filed by Footlik’s firm with the Department of Justice, the same source indicates that the American lobbyist received $257,000 in March, 2019, form the Moroccan embassy for services he rendered from July to December, 2018.

In addition to his work with the Moroccan and Qatari embassies in New York, Footlik’s name is linked to his partner Smotkin. The latter made headlines last year for allegedly being behind the former Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt’s visit to Morocco.

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