Cruz too cozy with Qatar?

Sen. Ted Cruz likes to complain about the Washington swamp, but he sure has a lot of swamp creatures hanging around him.

Consider his former deputy chief of staff, Nick Muzin. Muzin registered as a foreign agent for Qatar and announced that his firm, Stonington Strategies, was pulling down some $300,000 per month, according to US Justice Department filings per the Foreign Agents Registration Act. 

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Nice work if you can get it. While Muzin recently put out a tweet saying his firm no longer represents Qatar, it’s worth asking what he promised that peninsular gas-rich state for all that money. And Sen. Cruz should tell us what meetings he had with Muzin and what he pledged to do for his former deputy.

Certainly, Qatar is worth a closer look. While officially a US ally and home to a major US air base, the emir of that Arab Gulf state also publicly finances Hamas, a group that the US and European Union, among others, have officially designated as “terrorist” and whose military wing is known for killing Americans and Israelis. 

Qatar offered to pressure Hamas to release the corpses it is holding of two Israeli soldiers to their widows in exchange for positive comments and visits by American Jewish leaders. (The Jewish leaders of course declined.)

According to UN and US State Department reports, Qatar also funds al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda offshoot in Syria. And Qatar publicly pledged $1 billion to the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Arab organization whose charter calls for the armed overthrow of America’s Arab allies and for replacing those governments with strongmen who administer Sharia (Islamic law).

Let’s not forget Qatar’s state-run broadcaster, Al Jazeera. That network, in both English and Arabic-language programs, has hosted terrorists on its air, helping to normalize their extremist points of view across the entire Middle East and beyond.

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Somehow, that network always seems to magically get al-Qaeda videos before any other. Why is that?

One of its on-air correspondents in Spain was arrested as a co-conspirator with an al-Qaeda chapter there. Huh?

Qatar also has a deplorable human-rights record that is unfriendly – to say the least – to Christians, women and foreigners.

International labor organizations have faulted its abuse of low-paid construction workers, treating them as virtual slaves – abuse that has led to a high number of deaths. Think of that if you see any of the colossal soccer stadiums they’ve built with the expectation of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals.

In all this, why have we not heard one word from Sen. Cruz? Does he not repudiate his former staffer and his noxious former paymaster?

Qatar is spending a fortune to gain access to key

US senators (or at least the appearance of access), by buying the services of their key former and even current officials. The question is: What is Qatar getting in return? Does Sen. Cruz listen to Texas or Qatar?

At first, it seems like an overwrought, or even partisan, question.  Still, the evidence shows continuing between Muzin and Sen. Cruz – they were recently photographed together – and maybe even continuing between Muzin and Qatar. 

Muzin has never filed a statement with the Justice Department declaring that his work with Qatar has, in fact, been terminated. So isn’t it fair to ask what Muzin telling the senator? And why is the senator granting access to a man who has been lobbying for a regime that does not share our values?

If the situation was reversed and Sen. Cruz’s challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, was taking meetings with a former staffer linked to such an authoritarian regime, you can bet that the Texas conservative would be yelling from the rooftops about foreign influence in American politics.  Maybe it’s time for reporters to ask Sen. Cruz about his associations.  Fair is fair.

The writer is the president and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, a Washington DC strategic communications firm, and a former Bill Clinton White House press aide.

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