Last March, an article entitled “The dirty secrets of a Smear campaign” appeared in the well-known American media outlet The New Yorker, providing a little more insight into Abu Dhabi’s all-out strategy for eliminating its enemies. In it, David D. Kirkpatrick reveals how a Swiss company, Alp Services, run by the famous Mario Brero, who is well known in Geneva, worked for Mohamed Ben Zayed in order to harm Qatar and anyone else who attacked the Emirates. Among the ideological tools used to do this was the dissemination of fake news and preconceived ideas designed to harm Doha: in particular, accusing Qatar of supporting radical Islam, and in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, which, with the support of the small Emirate, is seeking to gain a foothold throughout Europe.
For several years now, a war of influence has been waged between Qatar, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia on the Old Continent. France is a prime target: the hexagon is a privileged political, economic, military and energy partner. Influence is exerted through the media. For example, with the support of Alp Services, Mohamed Ben Zayed has been doing everything in his power for years to influence newspapers and defend his political agenda in French editorial columns. False accounts, crooked journalists, tainted media, hundreds of articles have been published to defend a vision, Abu Dhabi’s vision of the Middle East and above all against Qatar, its main competitor for wealth.
According to the American media outlet The New Yorker, the Africa Intelligence website is a perfect example. It was indeed in the service of Alp Services. In addition to the espionage, tracking and burglaries set up by the company, the distribution of false information in media of convenience was part of the deal. Brero was to publish around a hundred articles a year in the media in favour of the Emirates. But beyond Africa Intelligence, other sites were targeted: for example, a certain Tany Klein maintained a false account on Mediapart and published articles in this vein. Africa Intelligence describes itself on its website as “the daily newspaper of the continent”. The site is part of the Indigo group, just like La Lettre A and Intelligence online. All the events are taking place in 2019, as is this operation: the Gulf crisis is in full swing in 2019, pitting Saudi Arabia and the Emirates against Qatar.
Alp Services finally produced a file containing several lists of French and Belgian nationals who, according to them, were reputed to be working for Qatar or to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood, or in any case to be fervent detractors of the Emirati confederation. At the beginning of July, a vast European consortium (European Investigative Collaboration) published several articles explaining the workings of Mario Bréro’s operation: 160 Belgians had been “handed over to the Emirati secret services”. Among them were researchers (Michaël Privot, Sébastien Boussois), representatives of associations (Fatimah Zibouh), and even ministers, such as the Belgian green minister Zakia Kattabi, who was not only accused of being close to the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar but also denounced as a Shiite! Many of them have lodged complaints of slander and invasion of privacy. For the moment, all the spotlight is on Mario Brero and Alp Services, but the methods are not very elegant and are already being traced back to the Al Ariaf centre, which is allegedly being used as a cover by the Emirati government and in particular a certain ‘Matar’, the Emirati agent in charge of steering Alp Services’ operations in Europe.
There is talk of nearly 160 people in Belgium being put on file, but 200 in France and no fewer than 1,000 people in all in Europe considered to be enemies of Abu Dhabi.