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Former Fifth Fleet commander lobbies for Qatar’s Ministry of Defense; Benin opposition seeks Biden’s help for election do-over; Haiti picks up ex-envoy to the Dominican Republic: Tuesday’s Daily Digest

Former Fifth Fleet commander lobbies for Qatar’s Ministry of Defense

A soldier attends the National Day parade in Doha, Qatar on Dec. 18, 2017

A retired US Navy officer who commanded the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain has registered to lobby for Qatar’s Ministry of Defense as Doha continues to build up its military amid a lingering dispute with its Arab Gulf rivals.

Vice Adm. John “Fozzie” Miller and his Virginia-based Fozzie Miller Group (FMG) signed a year-long, $300,000 contract with Aisha al-Mesned, the deputy defense attache at the Embassy of Qatar in Washington on March 10. Miller plans to mediate between the Qatari Ministry of Defense and the US Department of Defense to “advance defense goals and advise on issues related to technical military matters,” including the country’s maritime security and naval capabilities.

FMG is but the latest addition to the two dozen or so firms working for Qatar as Doha continues to ramp up its lobbying presence in Washington despite the end of the Saudi-led embargo in January.

Read the story here.

Benin opposition seeks Biden’s help for election do-over

Then-Foreign Minister Rogatien Biaou signs documents in Cotonou on Feb. 10, 2006

One of the leaders of Benin’s fractured opposition has hired a Washington communications and political advisory firm to draw attention to democratic backsliding in the West African nation in the hopes of building international pressure for a do-over of next month’s flawed election.

Former Foreign Minister Rogatien Biaou and his Alliance Patriotique Nouvel Espoir (New Hope Patriotic Alliance) have hired Sanitas International for outreach to US and international media regarding the April 11 presidential election. President Patrice Talon, a business who made a fortune in the cotton industry, is the runaway favorite after most of his opponents were barred from running.

The contract is for $30,600 and runs three months starting March 1.

“There’s an opportunity here for the Biden administration in being able to influence democracy in West Africa in general by really focusing on Benin,” said Alliance spokesman Joe Biaou.

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Liberia: Brownstein Hyatt has registered policy director Samantha Carl-Yoder on its account with Liberia’s ship registry, Virginia-based LICR LLC. A veteran diplomat, Carl-Yoder held senior roles in both the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations and served in Indonesia, Peru, Burma and Brazil over two decades. She joined the firm last month and was already registered to represent the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Cambodia and South Korea.


Haiti: The Embassy of Haiti in Washington has hired law firm Patino & Associates of Coral Gables, Florida for lobbying help as the government of President Jovenel Moise battles public pressure to step down. The contract is for $37,000-per-month for an indefinite amount of time. Registered on the account are the firm’s president Ralph Patino and Dallas-based consultant James Walter Brewster, who served as the US ambassador to the Dominican Republic during Barack Obama‘s second presidential term. Patino for his part has deep Caribbean expertise as a longtime advocate of closer ties with Cuba.

According to the contract, Patino & Associates will “interact with and gather information from Haitian officials or private sector representatives to attain better information to inform its outreach efforts, will cultivate interest in Haitian issues among public policy organizations (think tanks) and will communicate with US officials, including members of Congress and staff members, on issues impacting the US-Haiti relationship.” This is the firm’s first registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Patino & Associates join two other groups lobbying for Haiti in Washington. The country has leveraged its lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs to make the case that Moise’s term runs until 2022, a view shared by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations. Mercury has had a contract with its parent company Mercury International UK to represent the office of President Moise since 2018. Damian Merlo, former US advisor to ex-President Michel Martelly, and his Miami-based Latin America Advisory Group also signed a year-long, $8,000-per-month contract with the embassy last fall for outreach to Congress and the executive branch. Johanna Leblanc, a former vice-chair of Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s Commission on African Affairs, has been paid $5,000 a month to serve as an adviser to the Haitian government since March 2019.

Haiti lobby battles diaspora over support for embattled president


Armenia/Azerbaijan: The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) sends us this reaction after we reported Monday that Mercury Public Affairs had renewed its $1 million lobbying contract with the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK) for the 2021 calendar year:

“Whether they are cashing paychecks from Erdogan or one his front groups, they’re clearly doing Ankara’s dirty work in Washington,” said ANCA Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian. “No American public relations firm should profit from Armenian Genocide denial — directly or indirectly.”

Mercury dropped its $1 million account with the Turkish government last year amid pressure form ANCA and other Armenian diaspora groups over Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Chouldjian pointed out that Mercury’s new contract with TAIK appears to carve out a larger role for the Turkish Ministry of Economy, which is now called upon to “play an active and direct role” in the issues and activities advanced by Mercury.


Georgia: The Chartwell Strategy Group has registered director Megan Greeley as a foreign agent on its $65,000-per-month account with the government of Georgia. The contract explicitly calls for increasing US security assistance and foreign direct investment. The Caucasus country fought a war with its Russian neighbor in 2008.

Georgia re-ups lobby push for US security assistance

Middle East

Morocco: Florida phosphate mining company Mosaic has hired Democratic lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies to lobby on “subsidized imports” and other issues. Mosaic filed a complaint last year with the US Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission accusing Russia and Morocco of subsidizing their production of phosphate, a key ingredient in fertilizer. Blue Star CEO Karen Tramontano is registered to lobby on the account. The firm joins Squire Patton BoggsBallard PartnersDawson & Associates, the Washington Tax & Public Policy Group and Michael Torrey Associates in lobbying for Mosaic.

Moroccan mining giant OCP and its New York-based subsidiary OCP North America have responded with their own lobbying and public relations campaign focusing on farm state lawmakers to ward off threatened import tariffs. OCP has five firms working on the account: CCO Communications, Cornerstone Government Affairs, Covington & Burling, DiNino Associates and Fleishman-Hillard, in addition to OCP North America’s own in-house lobbying.

Mining giant leads Moroccan lobbying blitz

Turkey: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer has registered former Senate Finance Committee International Trade Counsel Brian Bombassaro on its campaign to get Turkey back into the F-35 jet program. The firm signed a $750,000 deal last month with Ankara-based SSTEK, which is wholly owned by the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), the government office that manages Turkey’s defense industry. The Donald Trump administration decided to kick Turkey out of the program two years ago over its purchase of Russian air defense systems.

Turkey lobbies to get back in F-35 program