Washington lobbyists who represent undemocratic Middle East governments find themselves in a delicate spot today. With two high-paying clients suddenly forced from office and more threatened by mass uprisings, the firms are trying to track events abroad, influence the U.S. response and not seem like parties to violent crackdowns on the reform movements sweeping the region, The New York Times reports
|Iranian snipers in parade exercises. (Getty Images)
One firm dropped its six-figure public relations contract with the government of Tunisia in early January, a week before President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country. “We basically decided on principle that we couldn’t work for a country that was using snipers on rooftops to pick off its citizens,” said Gregory L. Vistica of the Washington Media Group.
A power trio of lobbyists who represented Egypt under ruler Hosni Mubarak, since deposed, still is collecting a fee of several million dollars to represent the re-emerging Egyptian state.
“What we have done for them in the past is what we will continue to do for them in the future — everything in our power to build good relations between the Egypt of today and the United States,” said Robert L. Livingston, a former Louisiana congressman who works for Egypt alongside K Street titan Tony Podesta and former Connecticut Congressman Toby Moffett.
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