BGR Government Affairs
Hired: June 2018
2018 fees: $470,000
(Dec. 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020)
Bahrain paid BGR Government Affairs $462,000 and reported $231,000 in expenses in the six-month period ending May 31. The firm reported meetings with staffers in four Senate offices in December and three House offices in February.
(for Bahrain Economic Development Board)
Hired: Oct. 2018
2018 fees and expenses: $22,000
NEW Informational materials
APCO Worldwide distributed a press release on how the World Economic Forum, in partnership with the Bahrain Economic Development Board (an APCO client), “has launched a new Roadmap for Cross-Border Data Flows to help drive global tech-based collaboration.”
Miller & Chevalier
Hired: March 2018
2018 fees: $99,000
(Oct. 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020)
Miller and Chevalier provided no services to Bahrain in the six-month period ending March 31. The firm did not receive any fees from the country in that period.
2018 fees: $258,000
(Sept. 1, 2019 – Feb. 29, 2020)
DLA Piper reported no activity or fees for Bahrain in the six-month period ending Feb. 29.
Hired: May 2019
Rokk Solutions amended its six-month filing for the period ending Sept. 30, 2019, to note that it was paid $110,000 by Richard Attias and Associates for public relations and consulting services around the "Peace to Prosperity" economic workshop held in Manama, Bahrain in June 2019, which sought to build support for the Donald Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan. Rokk’s contract with Attias, a Dubai-based global communications advisory firm, was terminated July 18, 2019.
Sonoran Policy Group
Hired: Feb. 2018
2018 fees: $500,000
(July 1, 2019 – Dec. 31, 2019)
Sonoran Policy Group was paid $55,000 by Bahrain, according to the firm’s lobbying filing for the second half of 2019. The firm met with Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., and Jason Crow, D-Colo., on behalf of Bahrain in July and September (Sonoran’s contract with the Bahraini Embassy in Washington was terminated Oct. 5). Lobbyist Anne Ekern left the firm Oct. 20, leaving founder Robert Stryk and CEO Christian Bourge as the firm’s only two foreign agents.
- 2019 fees: $800,000
Bahrain banks on Trump with Israeli-Palestinian gambit
Julian Pecquet is the Editor of Special Projects for Al-Monitor, where he supervises the award-winning Lobbying Tracker as well as managing long-form stories. Before that he covered the US Congress for Al-Monitor. Prior to joining Al-Monitor, Pecquet led global affairs coverage for the political newspaper The Hill.
Posted: September 11, 2019
The tiny kingdom of Bahrain is deepening its ties to the United States and Israel in a bid for more influence amid increasing regional tensions with Iran.
After playing a lead role in the fruitless Gulf public relations campaign against Qatar in 2017 and unsuccessfully battling President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs last year, Manama has once again changed up its lobbying focus. Undeterred by regional criticism that the Trump administration greatly favors Israel over the Palestinians, Bahrain agreed to host the roll-out of the US peace plan’s economic component in May despite widespread skepticism that it would amount to anything.
“The ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop underscores the close strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United States as well as the strong and shared interest in creating thriving economic opportunities that benefit the region,” Bahrain Minister of Finance and National Economy Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa declared in a joint statement with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the time. A month later, Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner told the Bahrainis he was “overwhelmed” by their assistance on the peace push.
In order to promote the conference, Bahrain hired Washington communications firm ROKK Solutions — via Dubai-based Richard Attias and Associates — for $110,000 to help with message development; media opportunities; engaging with TV reporters, producers and anchors; running the on-site media center; content development; and media monitoring.
Separately, the kingdom continues to retain the services of four other firms — DLA Piper, BGR Government Affairs, Sonoran Policy Group and Miller & Chevalier — the last three of which were hired last year. All told the Bahraini government paid out almost $1.4 million for lobbying in 2018, notably to defeat a resolution from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to restrict arms sales to Manama (the resolution failed 77-21).
In addition, the Bahrain Economic Development Board paid APCO Worldwide $22,000 last year to “promote the country as an attractive location for business investment and expansion.” The Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority country has begun to see a rebound in pledged foreign investment following the political unrest of the 2011 Arab Spring protests and the subsequent crackdown, but faces new challenges to its role as a gateway to the Saudi market as Riyadh pursues its own economic modernization.
Despite backlash in parts of the Arab world, Bahrain’s US gambit appears to have earned some early returns. The same month that Manama announced it would be hosting the Palestinian investment summit, the Pentagon notified Congress of plans to sell the country $2.5 billion in Patriot missile batteries and $750 million in missiles for its F-16 fleet.
The kingdom has failed to make headway on the issue of tariffs, however, which threaten the country’s effort to diversify its economy and attract manufacturing jobs. Bahrain was the fourth-largest exporter of aluminum to the United States in 2017, according to the Congressional Research Service, with $585 million worth of exports. Moody's credit rating agency predicts the kingdom, which ranked as the world’s eighth-largest aluminum producer in 2016, is among the countries with the most to lose.
Main lobby firm:
Sonoran Policy Group
Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018
- Bahrain hosts international maritime coalition including Israel
- Kushner lauds Bahrain role in peace summit
- Bahrain scores $3 billion weapons sale
- Israel-Palestinian peace conference fails to deliver
- US steel and aluminum tariffs remain in place
- Saudi reforms threaten foreign investment push
The winners and losers of the Bahrain conference