DATAPOINTS

$0

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

3

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

33

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#10 (tie)

Mayer Brown
(for Tri-Star International Trading / Mustafa Eteer)

Hired: June 2018
2018 fees: $50,000

NEW Supplemental (termination filing)
(Feb. 1, 2019 – July 31, 2019)

Fees: None
Meetings: None

Mayer Brown stopped working for Libya’s Tri-Star International Trading on Feb. 1. Tri-Star, a company owned by Libyan poultry mogul Mustafa Eteer, hired Mayer Brown in June 2018 for $50,000 to provide “advice and assistance in connection with developments in the country of Libya regarding the formation of a democratic government.”

Libyan rivals take their fight to Washington

Editor

Julian Pecquet

@JPecquet_ALM

jpecquet@al-monitor.com
bookmark

Julian Pecquet is the Washington Editor for Al-Monitor.

Posted: September 11, 2019

Libya’s warring governments have taken their battle for control of Tripoli to the US capital.

Both the UN-recognized Government of National Accord and strongman Khalifa Hifter’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) inked $2 million annual lobbying contracts this spring to seek US support. The dueling campaigns come amid mixed messages from the Donald Trump administration, with the president appearing to endorse Hifter’s assault on the Libyan capital even as his own State Department continues to support Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and advocate for a political settlement.

The Sarraj government kicked off the latest lobbying spree in late April when it hired Mercury Public Affairs less than a week after Trump was widely reported as giving a green light to the attack on Tripoli in an April 19 phone call with Hifter. The firm has devoted no fewer than 19 registered foreign agents to the account, including former Sen. David Vitter, R-La., former Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and Bryan Lanza, who served as deputy communications director for Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Separately, the Tripoli government’s Libyan Investment Authority hired New York law firm Gerstman Schwartz last month to lobby the US Treasury Department and the US delegation to the United Nations — and potentially the State Department and Congress — to help retrieve frozen assets. About $50 billion worth of Libyan assets remain frozen under UN sanctions.

Within a month of being hired, Mercury had scored meetings with seven members of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees as well as with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker, D-N.J. Vitter in particular helped arrange a late April phone call between Graham, a stalwart Trump ally on Capitol Hill, and Sarraj after which the US senator publicly called on the administration to “lead the political reconciliation process and firmly reject any effort – by any party — for a military takeover.”

Ibrahim Sahad, a Sarraj ally on Libya’s consultative Higher State Council, told Al-Monitor during a May visit to Washington that a key ask was for the United States to step in to stop the flow of arms and fighters from Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates in a bid to slow Hifter’s momentum. In a win for Tripoli, House lawmakers included language in their annual defense authorization bill calling on the president to provide a detailed US strategy for Libya and an accounting of foreign military intervention in the conflict.

Mercury also helped organize media interviews for Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq during his visit to Washington in early May. Maiteeq has separately retained the services of Prime Policy Group, pro bono, which has registered a dozen foreign agents on the account including former Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn.

Hifter’s army responded in kind a month later, striking a $2 million deal with Texas-based Linden Government Solutions. The five registered agents on the account are tasked with providing “strategic consulting services, advice, planning, coordinating meetings with business, government and non-government representatives and public relations services in support of the [LNA’s] diplomatic goals.”

Meanwhile, on June 30, the Hifter-aligned eastern government out of Tobruk parted ways with former Israeli arms dealer Ari Ben-Menashe and his Canada-based Dickens & Madson after hiring him for a flat $6 million fee three years ago to help create “a national unity government acceptable to the foreign principal.” In a twist, Ben-Menashe had been mining those contacts as part of a $6 million June deal with Sudan’s military junta that notably aims to swap Libyan funding for Sudanese “military help” for the LNA. The abrupt termination followed a failed attempt to set up a meeting between Hifter and Sarraj in Russia, according to Dickens & Madson’s latest public filing.

As if things weren’t complicated enough, two other Libyan political players have registered to lobby the United States for their own interests.

Hassan Tatanaki, a Libyan oil tycoon with ties to both Hifter and the family of deposed dictator Moammar Gadhafi, hired Yorktown Solutions in November 2018 for $30,000 per month to represent his Libyan United Democratic Party and push for new elections. The firm is run by Daniel Vajdich, a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer and adviser to the 2http://islamic016 presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who previously lobbied on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

And chicken magnate and Michigan resident Mustafa Eteer hired law firm Mayer Brown in June 2018 via his Tri Star International Trading Co. for a fixed fee of $50,000 to lobby Congress and the Trump administration “regarding the formation of a democratic government in Libya.” Former Rep. Toby Moffett, D-Conn., is representing Eteer, who has argued for delaying the elections initially planned for December 2018.

HIGHLIGHTS

Main lobbying firm for GNA:
Mercury Public Affairs

 

 

$0

Total lobbying and PR spending by GNA for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • $2 million lobbying campaign shows early traction
  • Congress sides with GNA over rogue general
  • State Department stands against Hifter's assault on Tripoli
LOSSES
  • Trump invites assault on Tripoli
  • Rogue army launches lobbying countermove
  • US fails to rein in Egypt, UAE support for Hifter

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Laborum nesciunt ipsum dolore error repellendus officiis aliquid a, vitae reprehenderit, accusantium vero, ad. Obcaecati numquam sapiente cupiditate. Praesentium eaque, quae error!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Perferendis, maiores.

image-from-the-document-managerimage-from-the-document-manager-1