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Television stations across the country are being flooded with $6 million of advertisements from a group called the “American Security Initiative” urging citizens to call their U.S. Senators and oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.
Though the American Security Initiative does not reveal donor information, the president of the new group, former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., is a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia. Coleman’s firm, Hogan Lovells, is on retainer to the Saudi Arabian monarchy for $60,000 a month. In July 2014, Coleman described his work as “providing legal services to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia” on issues including “legal and policy developments involving Iran and limiting Iranian nuclear capability.”
The co-chairs of the American Security Initiative include former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and former Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. Chambliss works at DLA Piper, another lobbying firm retained to influence U.S. policy on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia.
The advertising effort is part of a fierce lobbying campaign to convince senators to support legislation expressing disapproval of the international accord with Iran, which will lift economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for inspections of the Iranian nuclear industry to ensure that it remains peaceful. The vote is scheduled to take place in September.
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led Persian Gulf governments have long viewed Iran as a regional adversary. The rivalry stems from the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide, and experts also believe Iranian oil exports could challenge Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the market. The crises in Syria and in Yemen have become proxy wars between the two nations as Saudi Arabia and Iran are playing an active role in fueling opposing sides in both conflicts.
Last month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that senior Saudi officials have reversed course and now express support for the Iran deal.
But analysts believe that Saudi Arabia is still trying to kill the deal, just not in public. As Newsweek reported, Saudi officials speaking on condition on anonymity have attacked the deal. And Saudi media outlets tied to the royal family have also widely condemned it.
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