US General who wrote Israel-Palestine security plan investigated for ties to Qatar

Allen is credited with building the framework for a security plan if Israel and Palestinian groups were to come to a peace agreement.

Retired Gen. John Allen, (photo credit: RETIRED GEN. JOHN ALLEN)
Retired Gen. John Allen,
(photo credit: RETIRED GEN. JOHN ALLEN)

Retired US four-star general John R. Allen – who was tasked with forming a security plan to supplement a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by President Obama in 2014 – is under investigation for alleged ties to the government of Qatar, according to court documents published by the New York Times. 

After a long career in public service culminating with his election as President of the prestigious Brookings Institute think tank in 2017, Allen resigned from his position in shame on Sunday – just days after his alleged lobbying of the Trump administration on behalf of the Qatari government came to light.

Allen, who served in the military for 37 years and held numerous prominent positions, such as State Department envoy to combat ISIL, is credited with building the template for a security plan if Israel and Palestinian groups were to come to a peace agreement in 2014, when he worked with the Obama administration. His framework was adopted by Donald Trump’s administration in their attempt to broker peace in 2019.  

Allegations of corruption

The allegations against Allen include joining a secret deal with former United States ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan Richard G. Olson and Middle East-based businessman Imaad Zuberi to lobby US government officials – who were not aware he was being compensated for his work and ostensibly trusted his military expertise – and advocated for Qatari interests amid a 2017 blockade of Qatar by the UAE and Saudi Arabia. 

"If we can do this we will own half of Qatar"

Imaad Zuberi, a business partner of Gen. Allen

Documents show that Allen received a $20,000 speaking fee for a speech in Doha, Qatar and one of his several dealings with Qatar-affiliated businesses would have provided him with a commission of over $1 million. “If we can do this we will own half of Qatar,”  Zuberi wrote to Olson via WhatsApp about their proposed plan with General Allen, according to the filing. 

 US President Barack Obama (R) meets with retired Marine Corps General John Allen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 16, 2014. (credit: GARY CAMERON/REUTERS) US President Barack Obama (R) meets with retired Marine Corps General John Allen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 16, 2014. (credit: GARY CAMERON/REUTERS)

Allen also had ties to an Israeli security company named Fifth Dimension, which was previously led by Israel’s current defense minister Benny Gantz. Court filings showed that Fifth Dimension had agreed to pay Allen $10,000 a month, along with a 1.5% commission on any new business deals he generated. Allen subsequently took credit for persuading Qatar to sign a contract worth $72 million with the Israeli company, implying that he would receive a commission surpassing $1 million for this deal alone.

“The Allen Plan”

Dozens of Israeli officers took part in the negotiations to provide a security plan for Israel in the event of a deal that paved the way for Palestinian statehood. Israeli sources told Haaretz that the conversations over the plan were “very substantial” and took place in an atmosphere of “openness and transparency.” Then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz took a central role in the drafting of the deal and praised the agreement. 

“The Allen plan” has never been presented to the public and most of its contents remained secret even after the Obama administration’s 2013-2014 peace talks fell apart.

Along with being known as the architect of this framework, Allen is further credited with his leadership in Afghanistan and his work to combat ISIL, though the current allegations of corruption sow doubt about the sincerity of his efforts.