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2017 Explanatory Reporting, Small Newsroom winner

Middle East Lobbying: The Influence Game

Winner(s)
Julian Pecquet

Organization
Al-Monitor

Award
Explanatory Reporting, Small Newsroom

Program
2017

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About the Project

Have you ever wondered why the U.S. would quickly resume arms sales to an unsavory ally after a bloody crackdown on protesters? Why Congress would side with a repressive regime in labeling the opposition as a terrorist threat? Or why an annual spending bill would mandate that foreign aid be spent on a desolate strip of the Sahara?

Sure, U.S. economic and strategic interests may be at play. But for every foreign policy decision our leaders make, it’s usually a safe bet that a small army of hired guns are working behind the scenes to make sure foreign governments’ best interests are protected.

Every summer, Al-Monitor’s Julian Pecquet and support staff sift through hundreds of lobbying and financial records to produce the most comprehensive resource available on Middle East lobbying in Washington. The series, which is recreated from scratch every year, reveals the who, the why – and the how much – discreetly guiding all aspects of foreign policy, from weapons contracts and foreign aid to trade deals and financial sanctions.

All that information would be pretty useless, however, without some way to measure foreign nations’ success at getting what they want. That’s why we also pore over State Department budgets, Pentagon arms deals and more to reveal the quantifiable ups and downs in U.S. bilateral relations beyond the political spin and the diplomatic platitudes. Wherever possible we’ve presented that data in visually appealing graphics designed to be easily shared on Twitter and Facebook.

And while numbers really can tell a story, it wouldn’t be complete without Al-Monitor’s authoritative reporting and exclusive interviews with some of the key diplomats driving the conversation in Washington. All that information is then presented in a compelling narrative that’s accessible to lay readers eager to know more about U.S. relations with the Middle East.

Now in its third year, the series has become a must-read among a wide array of experts and professionals, including Capitol Hill and executive branch staffers.