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#10 (tie)

Mercury Public Affairs
For office of the Prime Minister

Hired: April 2019
Contract: $2 million/year

NEW Registered foreign agent
John Anthony Deschauer

Public relations consultant John Anthony Deschauer has registered to lobby on a part-time basis for the Turkish Embassy in Washington and for Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli via Mercury Public Affairs. He will assist Turkey with “public relations campaigns, including speaking with and dispensing information to members of the media” and provide “strategic consulting regarding public affairs and government relations, including outreach to US official, nongovernmental organizations and think tanks” on behalf of the GNA. Deschauer previously lobbied for Qatar via Levick Strategic Communications and Saudi Arabia via Qorvis Communications.

Gotham Government Relations
(for Government of National Accord)

Hired: Sept. 2019
Contract: $1.5 million

NEW Contract

Libya's Government of National Accord hired Gotham Government Relations to lobby the executive branch and work on reports on “human rights violation and crimes against Libyan civilians.” The firm will be paid $1.5 million for the one-year contract; Brad Gerstman (who was involved in Trump’s 2015 announcement that he would run for president) and Shai Franklin will lobby on the contract. Gerstman and Franklin also lobby for Libya's $67 billion sovereign wealth fund, which is controlled by the GNA, through the Gerstman Schwartz law firm.

Sanitas International
(for Libya Institute for Advanced Studies / Aref Ali Nayed)

Hired: Sept. 2019

NEW Contract

An ally of Libyan warlord Khalifa Hifter has hired a lobbying firm connected to President Donald Trump, as the rogue general competes with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord for influence in Washington. Aref Ali Nayed, a former Libyan ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, retained Sanitas International on Sept. 1 via his Libya Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS) to conduct outreach to “key stakeholders in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe” and discuss “a realistic and democratic approach to improving the lives of all Libyans. Specific terms of the contract, including fees, have not been finalized. Founding partner Christopher Harvin, a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and managing director Bruce Fryer will work on the account. Nayed has been a vocal ally of Hifter, who is also supported by the UAE. Nayed previously retained Sanitas’ services four years ago, paying the firm $417,000 for two months of work. At the time, Nayed told Al-Monitor that “the guys in Tripoli are basically a bunch of thugs. They’re not partners in the fight against terrorism; they are precisely part of the problem. They are incubating terrorism and using the democratic system to further their ends.” Harvin and Fryer also run Vanguard Africa, a nonprofit that “advocates for free, fair and transparent election processes in Africa and helps to consolidate democratic forces to advance a reform agenda,” according to IRS filings. Nayed is on the nonprofit’s “emeritus council,” according to its website.

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


Julian Pecquet



Julian Pecquet is the Editor of Special Projects for Al-Monitor, where he supervises the award-winning Lobbying Tracker as well as managing long-form stories. Before that he covered the US Congress for Al-Monitor. Prior to joining Al-Monitor, Pecquet led global affairs coverage for the political newspaper The Hill.

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.


Main lobbying firm for GNA:
Mercury Public Affairs




Total lobbying and PR spending by GNA for 2018



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

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