General Mattis secretly worked as an advisor to the United Arab Emirates during the Yemen war


James Mattis United Arab Emirates
Marines of Arlington, Virginia, United States, via Wikimedia Commons

Two years ago, the Washington Post broke the news that hundreds of retired US military personnel had made large sums of money working as “consultants” for foreign nations. Many of these veterans are retired generals and admirals, and thanks to a grueling legal battle with the federal government, the Washington Post was able to shine a light on this side of the hoopla enjoyed by America’s most trusted leaders .

With this discovery, questions have emerged, such as how these retired generals and admirals balance their loyalty to the United States with the massive scrutiny they face from foreign governments while testifying before Congress on various foreign policy issues. Does their U.S. government-sanctioned sideline essentially make them proxy lobbyists, at best, and foreign agents, at worst, among those who write their “consulting” checks?

However, perhaps the “consulting” activity of one of America’s most beloved Marine Corps generals and former Secretary of Defense is the most troubling of all the Washington Post’s revelations. General “Mad Dog” Mattis served as an “adviser” to the United Arab Emirates.

The shady details behind the non-disclosure, the possible falsification of official documents and the connection to the current unstable situation in Yemen will shock you.


The United Arab Emirates, or United Arab Emirates as they are commonly called, is not the only foreign nation known to employ U.S. military veterans. However, they have employed more retired military personnel than any other foreign nation.

One such retired US veteran is none other than retired general and former Trump administration Defense Secretary James Mattis. In 2015, General Mattis applied to work for the United Arab Emirates at the behest of his longtime friend Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The two men became close friends while General Mattis was head of U.S. Central Command during the Arab Spring of 2011. The 2015 question came at a time when the United Arab Emirates was working to help quell the civil war in the Yemen with Saudi Arabia.

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In his application, General Mattis wrote:

“My duties would include reviewing the UAE military situation, initially focused on the Yemen campaign, with the aim of providing military advice.”

The request would not have been such exciting news if General Mattis and the State Department had not gone to great lengths to hide it. In fact, if you examine General Mattis’ biography and watch his public confirmation hearing as Secretary of Defense, it is interesting and I suspect that he omits this phase of the job.

Allegedly some members of Congress and some Middle Eastern diplomats were aware of General Mattis’s involvement as an advisor to the United Arab Emirates, but not all. But what gets really strange is the topic of General Mattis’ salary for said job.

Did he do it or not?

In the same question General Mattis writes:

“I will be compensated.”

Yet General Mattis claims he was not paid for his services. Robert Tyrer, co-president of the Cohen Group where General Mattis is currently employed as a senior advisor, states:

“He has never requested or received any compensation from any foreign government at any time.”

The question then remains: Why did General Mattis write on his application that he would be compensated? Mr. Tyrer gives this explanation:

“General Mattis sought the most rigorous level of review for this request. The higher-level review was initiated by describing the role as a paid position, although General Mattis neither requested nor received any compensation.”

So, to recap… to ensure he receives the highest level of scrutiny to keep his powder clean, did General Mattis intentionally lie on an official document? Let’s put that aside for a moment and assume for the proposed reasoning that this was simply an honest and misguided attempt to stay above any perceived impropriety.

It took two months for General Mattis’ application to be approved. In comparison, other applications usually take 8 months to a few years.

General Mattis’ application received approval in record time despite rigorous scrutiny. In 2019, General Mattis reapplied for employment with the Emirati government as a speaker at a conference in Abu Dhabi.

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In your application, you answered the question “Will you be paid for tasks performed?” with the following:

“Yes, the standard honorarium for all speakers in this conference series is $100,000 plus reimbursement for airfare and accommodations.”

However, you guessed it, General Mattis claims he never received compensation. The reasoning behind his answer to the question is the same as that provided by Mr Tyrer for the 2015 question.

Nothing strange here…

A possible connection?

So, what does this news that General Mattis is one of many other retired generals and admirals making money to “advise” foreign governments have to do with anything of real importance today? In addition to the fact mentioned earlier in this article that allowing this practice creates an obvious conflict of interest for highly influential military leaders in DC and the defense industry, this may have many connections to a rapidly escalating conflict in the Red Sea.

President Joe Biden recently approved counterstrikes against Iranian targets in the Middle East in retaliation for a drone strike in Jordan that killed three U.S. service members. This drone strike came on the heels of more than 150 strikes against US assets in the region since October.

Some of these attacks have been courtesy of Yemen’s Houthi group, which has consistently attacked US and British vessels in the Red Sea. So where is the connection between General Mattis working for the UAE in 2015 and Yemen?

A recent BBC investigation alleges that the United Arab Emirates, General Mattis’ employer, has been funding politically motivated killings in Yemen since… 2015. Other whistleblowers in this investigation include former Navy SEALs and COOs of US private security firm Spear Operations Group Isaac Gilmore said he was one of many hired by the United Arab Emirates to assassinate people in Yemen.

Allegedly, these retired military members like Mr. Gilmore not only carried out assassinations but trained UAE units in the art – units such as the Emirati-funded Southern Transitional Council (STC) subunit known as the Counter-Terrorism Unit. The STC’s Counterterrorism Unit includes 11 known al-Qaeda members, including Nasser al-Shiba, the prime suspect in the attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors in 2000.

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The point

While interesting, whether or not General Mattis was paid is not the primary issue surrounding this side hustle for retired U.S. military leaders. General Mattis’s involvement and the possible cascading connection to what is currently happening in Yemen and the Middle East in general is only a secondary symptom of the general malady paralyzing US foreign policy.

Allowing retired U.S. military leaders to work as “consultants” and “advisers,” paid or unpaid, exposes them to easy manipulation by our adversaries and enemy-friends around the world. The testimony these men give to Congress helps shape funding for military aid, humanitarian assistance, international infrastructure projects, and defense spending.

The defense contractors where these men serve benefit directly from the “advice” and “consultancy” they provide to foreign nations on one side of their mouths and to U.S. lawmakers on the other. The question we should ask ourselves is: are these “patriots” loyal to the United States or are they loyal to their own wallets?

The next question is: what pays more…peace or prolonged hostility?

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Retired USAF, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran supporter. Hot mom with two monsters and equal parts wife… More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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