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Syria’s Kurdish YPG fighters hire their first lobbyist; PR firm ends work on stalled US-UK free trade deal; Mariana Islands hires Ben Carson adviser: Friday’s Daily Digest

Syria’s Kurdish YPG fighters hire their first lobbyist

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) graduation in Deir ez-Zor, Syria on Jan. 11, 2018 / SDF Press Office

The Syrian Kurdish military forces have hired their first Washington lobbyist as they continue to battle the remnants of the Islamic State (ISIS) in their autonomous region of northeast Syria.

Republican political operative Jim Dornan has registered his firm Jim Dornan Strategies as an agent of the “Kurdish Defense Forces/YPG SDF,” effective April 30. The YPG, or People’s Protection Units, are the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). They are considered a terrorist group by Turkey, contributing to the tensions between the US and its NATO ally.

Dornan is registered to lobby on “US/KDF (Kurdish Defense Forces) cooperation regarding ISIS.” The registration is effective today, April 30.

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Jamaica: Finn Partners terminated its foreign agent registration on behalf of the Jamaica Tourist Board effective March 31. O’Dwyer’s reports that the board has hired the Lou Hammond Group to replace the New York public relations firm. Lou Hammond is expected to pitch the island as a “four-season destination of choice” for Americans due to its scenery, culture and opportunities for wellness. Finn had represented the board since 2012 and disclosed $580,000 in fees in the six months through March.


Spain (Catalonia): The Delegation of Catalonia to the US received $315,000 from the autonomous community’s government in the six months through March. During the period delegation chief Isidre Sala and senior adviser Magali Muria disclosed contacts with staffers for Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) , Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) as well as staffers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

United Kingdom: Finn Partners terminated its foreign agent registration on behalf of the British Department of International Trade on March 5 as talks on a post-Brexit free trade deal with the US have stalled. The department signed a $180,000, 12-month contract with the New York marketing and advertising firm last March as part to “promote the UK’s innovation and future opportunities to collaborate with North American businesses in the UK facing businesses and the trade and investment market.” The contract had a provision for two extensions, for a total of $540,000. Finn was one of several firms brought on board to help with the talks initiated under President Donald Trump:

Source: Foreign Agents Registration Act (graphic by Foreign Lobby Report)
Inside the UK’s $7.5 million legal battle plan for a US free trade deal


Mariana Islands: The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory, has hired Jason Osborne and his firm Connect Strategy to lobby on “workforce development issues and immigration as it relates to the Northern Mariana Islands.” Osborne was a deputy senior strategist on Ben Carson‘s 2016 presidential campaign and executive director of the Mariana Islands Republican Party. He has also registered to lobby for the Northern Marianas Business Alliance on the same issue. Both registrations were effective April 1.

Middle East

Bahrain: APCO Worldwide has registered Washington public relations consultant Alexander Brendan-Ray Gibson on its strategic communications and media relations account with the Economic Development Board of the Kingdom of Bahrain. APCO’s latest contract with the board runs for one year starting Oct. 7, 2020 and is for 1,872 Bahraini dinars (around $5,000) per month, down from $132,000 per year previously. APCO has represented the kingdom’s investment promotion agency since 2018.

Iran (opposition): Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey disclosed a $5,000 speaking from the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran in the six months through March. During that period he donated a total of $8,600 to the campaigns of Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) but did not disclose any lobbying activities.

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Iraq (Kurdistan): BGR Government Affairs has registered vice president Pete Landrum on its account with the Kurdistan Regional Government office in Washington. Landrum served as the senior defense policy adviser for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for a decade before joining BGR in 2017. The firm has represented the KRG since 2007.

Libya: Mercury Public Affairs has registered vice president Katie Gregory on its account with Libya’s transitional Government of National Unity (GNU). Mercury signed a new contract with the GNU last month after representing its predecessor, the Government of National Accord (GNA), since 2019.

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Turkey: Mercury Public Affairs has registered vice president Katie Gregory on its account with the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK). The firm has renewed its $1 million-a-year contract with the council for the 2021 calendar year despite dropping its $1 million-a-year contract with the Turkish government amid pressure from the Armenian diaspora over Ankara’s support for Azerbaijan. Mercury has represented TAIK since 2018 and provides “strategic public relations, government relations, and business consulting and management services.”

United Arab Emirates: APCO Worldwide has registered director Nicole Monge and consultant Lauren Rogers on its account with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. The company hired APCO earlier this month to represent its managing director Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber in his capacity as the UAE’s climate envoy. the $45,000 contract with Dubai-based APCO Worldwide FZ is for “strategic communications and media relations services within the United States” and runs from April 4 through the end of June.

UAE climate envoy launches US PR push