Conservative Middle East Council – The Haftar Lobby: A Register of Interests

The Haftar Lobby

In March 2017, the Conservative Middle East Council published a report entitled ‘Inside Libya: Chaos in the Mediterranean‘. The report pushed for urgent ‘engagement’ with Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the self-appointed commander of the Libyan National Army who had spent the best part of 20 years semi-retired in Washington DC. The report was the culmination of almost 16 months of lobbying and campaigning (The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s 2016 ‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ report, “Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options” had set-up the framework of urgency and relevancy just nicely).

Shortly after the publication of ‘Inside Libya’ (they’d spent all of 48 hours ‘inside Libya’, incidentally) British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote an article for Spectator Magazine repeating much the same claim: the Islamic militias we had used to topple Gaddafi in 2011 and whose GNA government we had helped form in 2016, had ‘limited capacity to deliver any kind of governance or security’. And Boris had pushed ahead with publication despite the fact that fatwas had been already been issued by senior Libyan clerics against anyone supporting Haftar and these included Prime Minister Serraj, the UN’s Martin Kobler and Libyan Foreign Affairs Minister, Mohamed Sayala. Inevitably, a good number of the rebels aligned with these militias (certainly those straddling the often unclear divide between IS and Ansar al Sharia around Benghazi, Derna and Sirte) fully supported the clerics. Salman Abedi was one of them. And just a few weeks after the CMEC report & Spectator article had been published, Salman Abedi detonated an improvised explosive device, packed with nuts and bolts, in the foyer area of the Manchester Arena. 23 people were killed. According to reports Serraj, Kobler and Sayala had also been on his target-list. The whole equally disturbing story behind that sequence of events can be found here.

This was the logic they used; they took an already combustible situation, poured petrol all over it and tossed in a match. And the quote that CMEC used to launch the offensive? “I decline utterly to be impartial between the fire brigade and the fire.” The words first uttered by Winston Churchill when justifying the use of brutal military force against striking workers in the General Strike of 1926 (in the Siege of Sidney Street in January 1911 Churchill had ordered the fire brigade not to enter and save the fire-ravaged building harbouring the revolutionaries and cheerfully recycled the incident as a metaphor some years later).

It was betrayal and provocation on a spectacular scale.

But what was behind the change in policy being proposed by Johnson and the Conservative Middle East Council? Was it a simple recognition that the British-backed GNA couldn’t govern adequately? Or was it the GNA’s failure to award the lucrative oil, gas and infrastructure contracts to companies either based in Britain, or to those who were donating significant sums of money to the Conservative Party leadership?

Personally, I think the donations to the Conservative Middle East Council and the Conservative Party should speak for themselves. You’ll find a summary of these donations below. Many of those donating have already appeared in the press for one reason or another. It is also worth noting that at the Libyan ‘summits’ held in Malta and London by Boris and John Kerry in October and November 2016, a number of Saudi and UAE banking representatives were present.

Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) Donations

£30,000.00 08/03/2017 CC Property Company Ltd (Consolidated Construction Company)
£8,500.00 08/03/2017 Maody Ishak
£25,000.00 01/03/2017 Mark Hilton (DLA Piper?)
£100,000.00 20/10/2016 David Rowland
£5,000.00 03/10/2016 Majid Jafar (Crescent Petroelum)
£10,000.00 23/09/2016 Assam Allam
£50,000.00 05/09/2016 Rosemary Said
£20,000.00 27/05/2016 AGC Equity Partners Limited (Walid Abu-Suud/Greece)
£10,000.00 23/03/2016 Mr Bassam Aburdene (Consolidated Construction Company)
£25,000.00 23/02/2016 Mr Wael S Khoury (Consolidated Construction Company)
£10,000.00 19/01/2016 Assam Allam
£10,000.00 27/10/2015 Dr Assam Allam
£12,000.00 23/09/2015 Majd Jafar (Crescent Petroelum)
£3,000.00 23/09/2015  Majd Jafar (Crescent Petroelum)
£20,000.00 23/06/2015 Rosemary Said

Kwasi Kwarteng (CMEC)
£3,250.00 09/12/2016 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£3,717.00 03/04/2016 Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs
£1,836.00 14/01/2016 Shafik Gabr Foundation
£3,050.00 29/10/2015 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£3,098.00 04/08/2015 Mohamed Shafik Foundation
£2,600.00 04/12/2014 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£1,700.00 15/09/2014 Conservative Middle East Council
£3,700.00 06/12/2013 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£5,749.19 10/03/2013 Majlis As Shura, Shura Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
£1,960.00 27/08/2012 Conservative Middle East Council
£1,960.00 27/08/2012 Kurdistan Democratic Party
£3,500.00 30/03/2012 Government of the United Arab Emirates

Charlotte Leslie (CMEC)
£6,722.14 09/04/2017 The Shura Council of Saudi Arabia
£4,000.00 12/02/2017 Indian High Commission/Government of India
£3,250.00 08/12/2016 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£3,042.50 05/12/2016 The All China Youth Federation
£4,313.00 03/11/2016 Falcon and Associates International Ltd (UAE Mohammed bin Rashid)
£2,800.00 01/04/2016 United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs
£4,753.26 21/01/2016 Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs
£1,836.00 14/01/2016 Shafik Gabr Foundation
£2,677.09 15/11/2015 UK China Forum Ltd
£3,050.00 29/10/2015 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£3,098.00 04/08/2015 Mohamed Shafik Foundation
£1,714.00 10/05/2012 Conservative Middle East Council

David Morris
£5,000.00 27/04/2017 Mr Mark Hilton (DLA Piper?)
£10,000.00 21/04/2017 Mr Mark Hilton (DLA Piper?)
£2,779.00 01/04/2017 Government of Pakistan
£2,000.00 14/03/2017 Mr Mark Hilton (DLA Piper?)
£2,000.00 07/02/2017 Mr Mark Hilton (DLA Piper?)
£4,313.00 03/11/2016 Falcon and Associates International Ltd (UAE Mohammed bin Rashid)
£2,007.00 24/09/2016 Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan
£1,815.00 26/07/2016 The European Azerbaijan Society
£2,800.00 01/04/2016 United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs
£3,114.84 10/02/2016 Falkland Islands Government
£4,753.26 21/01/2016 Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs
£1,836.00 14/01/2016 Shafik Gabr Foundation

Alistair Burt
£3,500.00 01/04/2017 United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
£2,000.00 16/12/2016 Australia Israel Cultural Exchange Limited (AICE)
£3,250.00 09/12/2016 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£8,000.00 12/11/2015 United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
£2,600.00 04/12/2014 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£7,000.00 13/11/2014 United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
£3,300.00 13/06/2014 British University in Egypt
£5,000.00 25/05/2014 Markham Services Ltd
£4,000.00 11/05/2014 The Doha Forum
£7,000.00 21/02/2014 United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
£3,000.00 15/02/2014 Kurdistan Regional Government

Alan Duncan (former CMEC Chairman 2015-2016)
£1,537.00 03/04/2016 Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs
£1,836.00 14/01/2016 Shafik Gabr Foundation
£3,500.00 18/11/2015 Government of Oman
£3,050.00 29/10/2015 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£5,000.00 05/10/2014 CC Property Company Ltd (Consolidated Construction Company)
£3,500.00 06/01/2011 Government of Oman
£4,000.00 04/12/2010 Government of Oman
£3,000.00 04/01/2010 Government of Oman
£2,000.00 16/03/2009 Government of Bahrain
£1,500.00 04/01/2009 Government of the Sultanate of Oman
£2,048.52 03/11/2008 Government of the Sultanate of Oman
£3,000.00 30/12/2007 Government of the Sultanate of Oman
£2,000.00 29/09/2006 Government of the Sultanate of Oman
£2,096.00 29/09/2006 Conservative Middle East Council

Sir Nicholas Soames (CMEC President)

£3,550.00 08/12/2016 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£4,313.00 03/11/2016 Falcon and Associates International Ltd (UAE Mohammed bin Rashid)
£3,700.00 05/12/2013 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£3,928.01 20/05/2013 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
£5,749.19 10/03/2013 Shura Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
£5,500.00 29/03/2012 Falcon and Associates (UAE Mohammed bin Rashid)

Main donors

CC Property Company Ltd (2011-2017) £64,076.51

CC Property Company Ltd To Conservatives 2011-2017: £836,576.51

Falcon and Associates donated £29,443.14 between 2012-2017 – John Penrose, David Morris, Sir Nicholas Soames, Nadhim Zahawi, Charlotte Leslie, Hugh Robertson

Majid Jafar of Crescent Petroleum (2012-2016) £71,250.00

David Rowland (2010-2016) £405,220.00

Rosemary Said (2007 -2016) £170.000

Ian Taylor, the chief executive of Vitol £378,000 to Conservative Party (2017)

Ayman Asfari – CEO of Petrofac £50,000 to Conservative Party (2017)

Vitol CEO Ian Taylor writing to Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Energy under Cameron


CC PROPERTY COMPANY LTD – Owned by Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC)
Major Tory donor (acting as British agent of parent company CCC)

Significant figures:

  • Marwan Salloum (Vice President of CCC) – Close friend of Saif al Islam Gaddafi (released to pro-Haftar forces in June 2017)
  • Wael Khoury (Minerals/Director) Major Tory donor. Son of owner CCC Said Khoury
  • S&K Holdings – At one time controlled by the Palestinian billionaires Hasib Sabbagh and Said Khoury

Appearances in press stories:

Palestinian group, Lebanese-registered/HQ in Greece. Parent company of CC Property Limited

  • Council Members at the Libyan British Business Council with DLA Piper, Kellogg Brown and Root (Joseph Walker Cousins), Vitol (Ian Taylor), Tatweer Research
  • CCC came under scrutiny for possible breach of UK donations laws (foreign donors using UK-registered subsidiary CC Property Company Ltd as conduit)

Significant figures:

  • Marwan Salloum (CC Property Company Ltd/close friend of Saif al Islam Gaddafi)
  • Baroness Liz Symons (International Consultant)
  • Blair adviser, Stephen Byers (Consultant – 2004 -2012?)

Major dealings:

  • CCC built the Abu Gharib prison
  • Tripoli Airport
  • Operated Libya’s Bouri oilfield (largest producing oilfield in the Mediterranean)
  • CCC sister company called Libyan Consolidated Contractors Company.
  • Kazakhstan interests (CCC employed Stephen Byers to seek development in Libya and Kazakhstan around the time that Leo Docherty’s wife Lucy Kelaart was based in Kazakhstan for Steppe Magazine)
  • CCC member and subsidiary, SICON OIL & GAS (engineering & procurement) has offices in UAE, Tripoli (Libya) and Kazachstan

Appearances in press stories:


  • Minerals/Director at Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC)
  • Major shareholder in the Arab Palestinian Investment Company
  • Major Tory donor.
  • It was Wael who featured with Byers in ‘disgrace’ case/scandal in 2011

Appearances in press stories:



In 2012 Capital Trust launched EuroMena III – the third incarnation of a Beirut-based private equity fund set up to to exploit new markets, including Libya. See: Eurmena Libya Summit – 19th-22nd November 2012

Falcon and Associates “works to positively influence the conversation about Dubai and the UAE as a place of opportunity for business, culture and lifestyle.”

Very established links with Gaddafi, Britain and Libya. Falcon and Associates Patron, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (United Arab Emirates) was planning major city with Gaddafi in Libya.

  • Director Giselle Pettyfer, previously head of “comms” for the International Olympic Committee.
  • Blair deals with Gaddafi featured Mohammed bin Rashid.
  • Rashid was involved in an Mi6 back channel to help persuade Gaddafi to give up pursuit of nuclear weapons. As PM Blair saw the great oil and gas benefits.
  • In the early noughties Mohammed bin Rashid was also financial advisor to Saif al Islam Gaddafi (in March 2003 Rashid met with Saif al Gaddafi and 3 Mi6 officers in Mayfair).
  • Hugh Robertson (Conservative MP Faversham and Mid Kent, 2001 to 2015) stepped down from politics to take up role at Falcon in 2015. Now runs its London office. Former Minister for Sport and for the Olympics (2010-2013). Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2013-2014)

DLA PIPER (Lobbying/Law company)

Main figures:

  • Mark Hilton? (CMEC & David Morris donor? – needs to be verified)
  • Baroness Symons (International Consultant)
  • DLA Piper’s Sir Nigel Knowles and Baroness Symons have long standing relationship with Blair and Gaddafi.
  • DLA Piper – Brought in to advise Gaddafi on his demands from the EU ( who were willing to negotiate with Gaddafi to halt the flow of immigrants)

Appearances in the press


  • DLA Piper Consultant/CCC consultant too.
  • Former Minister of State for the Middle East (2003-2005)
  • Arab British Chamber of Commerce (private company)
  • Blair’s Middle East Envoy
  • Involved until March 2011 with Gaddafi’s ‘National Economic Development Board of Libya’ (she praised his ‘sound ideology’)


  • Son of Syrian-Saudi billionaire, Wafic Saïd and Rosemary Said (major Tory donors)
  • Magna Holdings Scandal (Wafic Said, Tony Blair and in Libyan tourism deal)
  • Director of the Turquoise Moiuntain Foundation donated £12,000 in Feb 2012.
  • The sister-in-law of CMEC’s Leo Docherty, Thierry Kelaart volunteered for Khaled Said’s Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan at this time.


Global asset investment/hedge fund company with offices in London and the Middle East

  • Walid Abu-Suud Director (former JP Morgan)
  • Khalil Amiouni Director
  • In 2012 AGC handled a $10 billion Middle Eastern investment by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)
  • Abu-Suud & Amiouni’s Dredillett Investments Ltd features in the Panama Papers (offshore leaks)
  • Travel sector successes (Greece)
  • Likely to be working alongside Greece-based Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) investors

Appearances in press


Syrian-born British businessman.

  • CEO of oil Company Petrofac
  • Sponsor of The Voices Project (Syria Campaign) activist group campaigning for regime change in Syria (and supporting controversial Syria Civil Defence/White Helmets).
  • Donated £50,000 to Theresa May’s 2017 election campaign.
  • Petrofac are at the centre of a Serious Fraud Squad investigation (Unaoil)
  • Petrofac were at forefront of new Libyan Oil Race

Appearances in press

see also:


  • UAE businessman & CEO of Crescent Petroleum
  • Signed co-development deal with Rosneft in November 2012 for interests in Libya and North Africa.
  • Donated £65,000 to the Conservative Party and Conservative Middle East Council between 2016 and 2017.
  • Poised to make debut in Libya in 2012


  • American engineering, construction & procurement company.
  • Senior Council Member of the Libyan British Buisness Council
  • Employs former ‘stablisation’ adviser to British Embassy in Benghazi, Joseph Walker Cousins.
  • Walker-Cousins has been the most prominent media represenative for the pro-Haftar lobby and chief architect of the ‘migrant crisis‘ framework in which it sits.
  • The UK subsidaries of KELLOGG, BROWN & ROOT (KBR) feature in a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Unaoil scandal.

Appearances in press

See also:

Donees & their Associates


  • MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale
  • In receipt of several donations from a Mr Mark Hilton (Hilton has submitted no donations to any other other party or individual but Morris and CMEC – may be a DLA Piper reprentative).
  • Close friend and former colleague of singer Rick Astley (there is some speculation he may have asked Astley to play at the reopening of  the Manchester Arena concert in September)
  • Morris played key role in parliamentary ‘Haftar debate’ in October 2016 with Kwarteng, Alastair Burt and Charlotte Leslie (backing Haftar and HoRs for greater power role)
  • Requested that Cabinet Ministers meet with Haftar’s HoRs in Parliamentary debate dated July 2017


  • CMEC director
  • former MP for the Bristol North West

Appearances in press


  • Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer
    MP for Spelthorne in Surrey.
  • Co-writer with Leo Docherty of ‘Crisis in the Med’ report backing Khalifa Haftar in March 2017.
  • Part of small delegation that met Haftar in February 2016.


  • former Vice Chairman of the CMEC (Conservative Middle East Council)
  • co-author of Inside Libya: Crisis in the Mediterranean
  • MP for Aldershot (2017)
  • attended School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London)
  • Wife Lucy Kelaart involved at Steppe Magazine – a Public Relations effort aimed at selling Kazachstan as tourist destination
  • Sister-in-law Thierry Kelaart worked alongside Sir William Patey and Rory Stewart at the Turquoise Foundation in Afghanistan (director, Khaled Said). She is a close friend of Kate Middleton.

Former Ambassador, Sir William Patey and Conservative Minister of State for Africa, Rory Stewart featured alongside Thierry Kelaart at Turquoise Mountain Foundation (Khaled Said is Director). Thierry is the sister of of Leo Docherty’s wife Lucy. It was Leo who wrote the Inside Libya report for the Conserbative Middle East Council.

Patey is mentioned here along with Symons and DLA Piper at the Iraq, Libya and Egypt: Mitigating Risks and Maximising Reward
March 19th at 1 Whitehall Place in 2014.


  • Former oil trader with links to VITOL (another Libyan British Business Council member)
  • former Chairman of Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC 2015-2016)
  • Conservative Minister of State for Europe and the Americas
    former Minister of State for International Development
  • Played a key role in the Libyan Oil Cell of 2011 (Mi6/Foreign Office plot to block fuel supplies to Libya). Offered significant support to LIFG rebels.
  • Set up deals between Libyan rebels and Vitol (who supplied oil to rebels upfront without cash)
  • In reciept of CCC/CC Property Company donation for ‘leisure’ activity in Oct 2014.
  • In 2008 it was discovered that Duncan’s private office was being funded by donations from Ian Taylor, the chairman of Vitol oil company
  • In March 2016 IntelligenceOnline claimed that Duncan was again teaming up with Vitol

Vitol was the company to organise the first controversial sale of Libyan rebel oil to Tesoro Corporation in early April 2011.

The Financial Times claims Vitol was approached by Qatari national oil company to sell a cargo of crude oil supplied by the Libyans in exchange for technological supplies and fuel for the National Transitional Council of Libya.


  • Bristololian ex-Paratrooper and former adviser at the Benghazi Embassy in Libya
  • Institute of Statecraft adviser to a Lords Select Committee following-up Operation Sophia (Mediterranean Migrant Crisis)
  • Director, Middle East Business Development at Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR Saudi Arabia)
  • First in UK to publically propose shift in power from British-backed GNA to Khalifa Haftar and the HoRs. Debates and questions inparliament (courtesy of David Morris, Charlotte Leslie and Kwasi Kwarteng  reinterate almost verbatim the proposals put forward by Walker-Cousins.
  • Walker-Cousins and Kellogg, Brown and Root (the company at the centre of a Serious Fraud Office investigation) are key members of the Libyan British Business Council.


UAE violating Libyan UN ARMS EMBARGO
A recent GlobalLeaks report claiming UAE violated UN arms embargo in support of Haftar leaves little doubt of UAE plans. Arming Haftar’s opposition (as also claimed) expedites desired outcome (speeding up crisis point necessary for UN/Nato intervention, lifting of arms embargo, political and military support for Haftar & HoRs)

Qatar, the UAE and the Libya connection
Some Middle Eastern reports claim that the UAE perceives the possibility of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Libya as a threat to its status in the region.

It has been claimed that the UAE has been detrimentally interfering in Libya by being deeply involved in fuelling the ongoing divisions and conflict throughout the country, especially in the last three years since the breakout of civil war.


Have the UAE been arming both sides? Is this what the Jadalla Al-Abedi story may be hinting at?

It was reported in Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options (UK Foreign Affairs Committee) that Libyan National Army’s Youssef al-Mangoush and Jadalla Al-Abedi, under the command of Khalifa haftar, had been channelling money and arms to the Libyan Shield militia.

Alison Pargeter, the author of the report suggested this was “throwing money at the absolute mess” and “inconceivable”. They put it down to a lack of planning but perhaps there was another kind of logic going on. The period Jadalla Al-Abedi assumed control of the LNA was in 2015. Was this another attempt at bringing the situation to crisis point?

At the very least, the UN report below proves UAE was arming Libya’s Ministry of the Interior (largely controlled by the militias)

United Nations Panel of Experts report on the Libyan arms embargo – February 2015

UK Parliament publication mentioning LNA’s Jadalla al-Abedi arming Libya Dawn in 2015:


I see Bell Pottinger donated £17,00 to CMEC in June 2009 (Bell Pottinger’s Alisdair Haythornthwaite took up his UAE positon round this time. Trafigura scandal also had surfaced a month or so before).

I notice that CMEC had made a couple of donations themselves. One to Nick Herbert MP (ask questions in March about Petroleum and Licensing the same month) and the other to Antoinette Sandbach. The donations were part of a fact finding mission to Lebanon (both Consolidated Contractors Company and Crescent Petroleum have interests here. Recently Crescent Petroleum qualified for first-round in Lebanon licensing bid:

Sandbach also received a donation from United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs (bilateral relationships).

I see that CC Property Company Ltd has fallen foul of the ban of foreign donations several times. Simple idea though: channeling donations through a small UK-registered subsidiary.

My feeling is that several interrelated interest groups who had (or were about to be awarded) significant contracts with Gaddafi’s Libya in the period 2004-2010 are now trying to revive their business interests in the region. The National Transitional Council and the subsequent GNC assumed administrative control of Libya between 2012 & 2015 and many of the companies associated with the donors below lost their contracts with Libya. If the LNA’s Khalifa Haftar is instated as President and the UK was to seek greater engagement with his forces it entirely possible that fresh deals could be negotiated. The release of Saif al Gaddafi (currently under the protection of Haftar) could be critical to those negotiations. At time of writing Haftar is locked in a debilitating conflict with the Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord, denying the country the kind of out of outside investment needed to kickstart  an economy.

Many of the CMEC donors and their associates had strong business relations with Saif al Islam Gaddafi (released in June this year). CMEC’s report in March, ‘Inside Libya: Chaos in the Mediterranean‘ appears to have been the culimination of several months of lobbying.


Symons, Libya and Blair Inc.


Falcon trip arranged within days of the October 2016 questions on Libya in Parliament.

Falcon and Associates on 3/11/2016 Nicholas Soames CMEC (£4,313.0), Leslie CMEC (£4,313.00) and Morris (£4,313.00), Hugh Robertson

Falcon and Associates patron, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid planning major city with Gaddafi in Libya?


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