When Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon appeared on Fox News’ “Shepard Smith Reporting” this week, the host asked him whether Brookings’s research is influenced by donations from foreign governments, particularly Qatar, as claimed in a recent New York Times story. Smith quoted a portion of the story in which a former visiting fellow in the Brookings Doha Center, Saleem Ali, told the reporter that “he could not take positions critical of the Qatari government in papers.”
O’Hanlon, also director of research in Foreign Policy and the Sydney Stein, Jr. Chair in International Security, replied to Smith, on whether research is influenced by the money Brookings receives:
No, and we’re also very transparent. And we put all our information about donors on our website; we’ve been doing that for years, long before the New York Times asked us to. But I would say about Mr. Ali, he was at Brookings for three months, five years ago. I’m very sorry he felt that way. I’ve talked to virtually every other scholar in Doha. None of them feel that way. For example, a man named Salman Shaikh has been trying to build a moderate group of Syrian opposition figures; trying to work with them to find an alternative to President Assad. He’s been doing that out of the Doha office even as Qatar has funded more extreme groups in Syria. And I don’t support what Qatar does and just to be very clear, Shep, I think their foreign policy has a lot of problems. But they don’t put pressure on us to align with them.
And that comment by Mr. Ali is very hard to understand frankly. And again it was from a scholar who was there five years ago for three months. The people I have spoken to who have been there for long periods of time, or short periods of time, since have never had that complaint.
And in fact, we have put up papers on the Brookings website by people like Jeremy Shapiro and Bruce Riedel that have taken major issue with the foreign policy of the government of Qatar as well.
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Read Brookings President Strobe Talbott’s message about the story here.