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.
The contract began March 10 and renews automatically unless FMG or Qatar decide to terminate.
Miller is the only person registered as a foreign agent on the account. He is expected to help set up meetings and communications with Defense Department officials on behalf of Qatar.
Although the contract began in March, the Qatari Defense Ministry has already paid FMG a total of $260,000 for “technical and strategic defense advisory services” in January and February.
Miller spent over three decades in the US Navy and has considerable expertise in the Middle East, having served as commander of US Naval Forces Central Command and commander of the US Fifth Fleet stationed in Manama, Bahrain. He retired in 2015. This is his first registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Miller declined to comment on the scope of his lobbying for the Ministry. The Embassy of Qatar did not respond to Foreign Lobby Reports requests for comment.
Qatar has been expanding its military as its relationship with its Gulf neighbors has deteriorated as Doha pursues an independent foreign policy including close ties to Iran and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups in the region.
After Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt blockaded the country in June 2017, Qatar made several arms purchases to boost its defense. These include a $12 billion deal with Boeing to procure F-15 fighter jets and a $4.5 billion contract with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build seven vessels for Qatar’s fleet. And Reuters reported in October that Doha has expressed interest in acquiring F-35 fighter jets after the Donald Trump administration authorized their sale to the UAE.
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 Gulf embargo in January. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Qatari government spent more than $9 million on US lobbying in 2019, the last year for which complete records are available.
Since President Joe Biden‘s election in November, the Embassy of Qatar in Washington has added no fewer than four new firms to its lobbying roster.
Most recently, the embassy hired Hayden Rogers, a former chief of staff to Senate Armed Services Committee member Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), in a year-long contract with the Integrated Strategy Group. The embassy also has a new contract with Democratic lobbyist Robert Crowe‘s new firm, RB Crowe, as well as with Ogilvy Government Relations. Meanwhile Nelson Mullins recently added Ralph Nurnberger, a former legislative liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and his firm Nurnberger & Associates as a subcontractor on its account with the embassy.