Qatargate Unveiled: The UAE’s Employment of ALP Services in Brussels
The complexities of geopolitics in the Arab world, particularly in the Arabian peninsula, are characterized by intertwined conflicts, vast interests, and the ambitions of petromonarchies seeking to expand their spheres of influence. The struggle for power is often played out through underground wars fueled by immense financial resources drawn from sovereign wealth funds and the unscrupulous methods of intelligence services. In the midst of this intricate landscape, a shocking revelation has come to light – a media manipulation plot originating from the Gulf, which has now reached European institutions and prosecutors, leading to the infamous “Qatargate” investigation.
The Genesis of Tensions: UAE and Qatar
The UAE and Qatar have a long-standing rivalry, marked by diplomatic tensions and mutual distrust. Despite a recent tactical rapprochement with the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, the underlying hostilities persisted. In a bid to cripple Qatar’s influence and reputation in Europe, the intelligence agencies of Abu Dhabi sought a way to identify and undermine pro-Qatar lobbyists.
ALP Services: A Swiss Intelligence Company in the Shadows
ALP Services, a private Swiss intelligence company based in Geneva, founded by Mario Brero, an Italian-Swiss “expert in confidential relations.” This seemingly covert organization was enlisted by Abu Dhabi to target real, potential, and even imaginary pro-Qatar lobbyists. In exchange for their services, ALP Services received a staggering sum of approximately six million euros. The company’s network stretched across continents, involving former cybersecurity agents and hackers, with connections ranging from Africa to the Balkans, Western Europe, Central Asia, and Russia.
The Unveiling of Qatargate
Alp Services identified nearly 70 potential targets to counter the influence of their perceived enemy, Qatar. Among these targets are three individuals who would later become central figures in the Qatargate scandal: MPs Marc Tarabella from Belgium and Eva Kaili from Greece, both associated with the EU-Qatar friendship group, and the alleged mastermind, former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri.
At the beginning of 2019, Alp Services could not have anticipated that the individuals they cataloged as obscure lobbyists for Qatar would eventually play significant roles in an international scandal, although the nature of the scandal is still presumed as investigations continue. Nevertheless, a crucial event involving Panzeri came to the attention of Swiss investigators. In April 2018, Panzeri, who was then the president of the subcommittee on human rights in the Parliament, visited Doha. During this visit, he committed to organizing a hearing in the European Parliament for Ali Bin Samikh Al-Marri, who was the president of the Committee national human rights at the time.
The alignment of the investigation’s findings with the ALP Services’ dossier raised eyebrows and sparked allegations that the UAE’s intelligence agencies may have orchestrated a carefully scripted fantasy to sway the outcome of the Qatargate investigation. This revelation exposed the potential manipulation of European authorities by foreign powers, casting a shadow over the credibility of the investigation itself.
The Abu Dhabi Secrets Dossier: A Web of Slander
One of the infamous works of ALP Services is the “Abu Dhabi Secrets” dossier, listing 160 individuals and 80 organizations allegedly supporting the cause of the Egyptian Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. This movement had historical ties to Qatar and was accused by the UAE and Saudi Arabia of spreading Islamist propaganda through the well-known network Al Jazeera.
However, the investigation by the EIC Consortium revealed that many individuals and entities in the dossier had little to no connection with Doha or Islamist militants. The inclusion of people without any logical thread or association exposed the dossier as a work of collective slander.
Questionable Involvement of European Figures
The impact of the ALP Services’ activities extended beyond the Gulf region. Prominent European figures found themselves entangled in the smear campaign. For instance, the Belgian Environment Minister, Zakia Khattabi, was falsely implicated as the vice president of the Belgian Muslim Executive, a position she never held. Such baseless accusations raised serious concerns and prompted her to seek clarification.
Additionally, the “Qatargate” investigation targeted three individuals – Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, former Vice President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili, and former trade unionist and lobbyist Antonio Panzeri. Strikingly, the conclusions reached by the Brussels prosecutor’s office and the investigating magistrate, Michel Claise, mirrored those of ALP Services, UAE intelligence, and the secret services of Brussels. This raised suspicions about the involvement of these parties in crafting a predetermined narrative.
The alleged employment of ALP Services by the UAE in a smear campaign targeting Qatar raises serious concerns about the use of unscrupulous tactics in the realm of geopolitics. The tangled web of misinformation, collective slander, and questionable involvement of prominent European figures has triggered the Qatargate investigation. It serves as a stark reminder of the complexities and darker aspects of international relations, where clandestine operations can influence the course of events. As the truth continues to unfold, the implications of this media killing maneuver may have far-reaching consequences for regional stability and the credibility of involved parties in the eyes of the international community.