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

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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)

http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk

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

Donors

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

Significant figures:

Appearances in press stories:

CONSOLIDATED CONTRACTORS COMPANY (CCC)
Palestinian group, Lebanese-registered/HQ in Greece. Parent company of CC Property Limited

Significant figures:

Major dealings:

Appearances in press stories:

WAEL KHOURY (CCC)

Appearances in press stories:

SAID KHORY (CCC)

BASSAM ABURDENE

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 & ASSOCIATES (UAE – GISELLE PETTYFER Director)
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.

DLA PIPER (Lobbying/Law company)

Main figures:

Appearances in the press

BARONESS ELIZABETH SYMONS

KHALED SAID

AGC EQUITY PARTNERS LIMITED

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

Appearances in press

AYMAN ASFARI

Syrian-born British businessman.

Appearances in press

see also:

MAJID JAFAR

KELLOGG, BROWN & ROOT (KBR)

Appearances in press

See also:

Donees & their Associates

DAVID MORRIS MP

CHARLOTTE LESLIE

Appearances in press

KWASI KWARTENG

LEO DOCHERTY

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.

ALAN DUNCAN (MP)

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.

JOSEPH WALKER COUSINS


WHAT’S THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATE’S ROLE IN ALL OF THIS?

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.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/06/qatar-uae-libya-connection-170612080219306.html

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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?

http://www.lana-news.ly/eng/news/view/83850/Chief_of_the_General_Staff_of_the_Libyan_army_says_we_started_to_make_painful_blows_to_terrorist_organizations

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


http://www.derechos.org/peace/libya/doc/lby1664.html

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

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmfaff/119/11906.htm

ODDS AND ENDS

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:

http://www.mesp.me/2017/04/26/lebanon-first-licensing-round-companies-qualified-tender/

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.

Links/Sources:

https://cmec.org.uk/publications/inside-libya-chaos-mediterranean

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/23/oil-bosses-have-given-390000-to-tories-conservatives-under-theresa-may

https://www.libya-businessnews.com/2017/03/21/uk-lawmakers-push-for-urgent-engagement-with-haftar/

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2017-07-11d.154.3

Symons, Libya and Blair Inc.
https://tinyurl.com/y7lj6sjb

http://www.pathfindertradeandinvest.com/sir-william-patey-baroness-symons-head-event-on-risk-in-transitional-countries/

https://www.scribd.com/document/202033047/FINAL-Libya-Report

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8514036/Playboy-Saif-Gaddafi-the-Tory-donor-and-girls-in-bikinis-how-the-Libyan-dictators-son-does-business.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2987252/The-despot-bought-Blair-16million-Cherie-320k-s-deal-shames-Britain-ex-PM-sold-virtual-gangster-linked-torture-money-laundering-bribery-murder.html

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/nov/06/uk.Whitehall

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/legal-firm-that-employs-nick-cleggs-wife-advised-gaddafi-regime-6569916.html

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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

https://tinyurl.com/ya33v6dd

Falcon and Associates patron, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid planning major city with Gaddafi in Libya? https://tinyurl.com/y95z8aq3

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