The imperfections of US democracy have been laid bare: Replications of events in various Arabic countries could not have been possible without the involvement of a foreign state. In some cases, including in Libya, quite a few countries have been increasingly open about their meddling. And while Turkey is the most obvious foreign player on the Libyan battlefield, there are also other parties – such as United States of America.
On October 5, the US Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale spoke at the ministerial consultations on Libya at the UN Security Council. He stated that “the United States will work with internal and external parties of the conflict in Libya to settle it”. At the same time, there are a number of facts which indicate that the US has been busy in Libya for a long time and at a level which can hardly assumed to be “aimed at a settlement”.
Amusingly, the main source which represents American meddling into the Libyan conflict is an official website of the US Ministry of Justice. According to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), adopted by the United States back in 1938, there is a number of obligations for individuals and organizations which, due to instructions and with financial support from other countries, try to influence the formation of public opinion in the United States. FARA requires such organizations to register at the US Ministry of Justice and submit an income and expense report every six months.
Thus, there is a document at the FARA section of the Ministry of Justice website which discloses a row of organizations responsible for the lobby on behalf of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) which is controlled by Fayez Sarraj.
The most active lobbying was conducted by Mercury Public Affairs, Gerstman Schwartz LLP, Yorktown Solutions LLC and Gotham – Government Relations and Communication.
The very same document also reveals specific details of this lobbying effort. For instance, on April 25, 2019 Mercury Public Affairs LLC signed a lobbying agreement with the GNA. The stated purpose of the agreement – lobbying Congress and the US executive branch, for support in the media. According to the agreement, the fee for the support and whitewashing of the GNA activities in the American media is pretty significant – $150 000 monthly, as well as $50 000 quarterly for the year and beyond, unless one of the parties decides to terminate the agreement.
It is also quite spectacular to peruse the names of those who were involved on lobbying organizations such as Mercury Public Affairs LLC. One of them is the former Senator of Louisiana David Vitter whose political career has been severely tarnished by a prostitution scandal.
According to his “Short Form Registration Statement Pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938” he is noted as an employee of Mercury Public Affairs and provides services involving strategic planning, lobbying, communications with the US officials and public relations.
There are also names of other US officials on the FARA documents, senators in particular, such as Chris Coons, Lindsey Graham, Chris Murphy, Marco Rubio, Ted Lieu, Ann Wagner and Tom Malinowski.
In addition, the list includes numerous professional staff members of committees of the US House of Representatives and Senate, as well as Stephanie Williams (the acting UN Special Envoy to Libya) and Robert O’Brien, who has served as the US President’s National Security Advisor since September 2019.
Moreover, it is worth investigating the reports on the media activities which are also represented in the FARA documents. Accordingly, these reports include links to the articles and publications which are dedicated to accusations against the GNA opponent Field Marshal of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar, raising the issue of alleged Russian intervention in the Libyan conflict while whitewashing US meddling in Libya in order to “protect American interests”.
According to the FARA files, an organization such as Gotham – Government Relations and Communication signed a contract with the GNA of Libya. Among the tasks of the US lobbyist were interviews with the Prime Minister of the GNA Fayez Sarraj in the Washington Post, discussing legislative options for Libya at the State Department and researching legislative and diplomatic options personally with Eliot Engel, the chairman of the US Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Gotham organization, according to the reports, is also responsible for arranging interviews in the Washington Times with the GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, infamously known for his links to the militants and Islamists.
And into the bargain, the archives of the US Ministry of Justice contain loads of documents which reveal decidedly ambiguous activities. Among them is a press release which consists a statement by the Gotham organization, which, as a representative of the GNA in the US, expresses gratitude to Donald Trump for the murder of the Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, killed in January of 2020 by a US airstrike.
“A representative of Libya’s Government of National Accord is thanking President Trump for eliminating Qassem Soleimani,” the document distributed by the company says.
To make matters worse, the FARA files consist of clear evidence that the American lobbyists who work for the GNA also deal with the countries which are open about their support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
For example, Steven Hilton represents the interests of both the GNA and US – notably the Turkey Business Council, as well as the Turkish Embassy. The same is true for another Mercury Public Affairs` worker – Suheyla Tayla who is a Turkish citizen. David Vitter, who has already been mentioned, incidentally shares the same client list.
But not only the Turkish track is presented in the FARA documents. There are also the names of Katherine Lewis and Kaylee Otterbacher who are employees of Mercury Public Affairs and who interact simultaneously with the Embassy of Qatar.
Actually, the sheer scale of the media campaign whitewashing the GNA and other countries’ officials which has been organized by the US lobbyists, is quite breathtaking. The list of media outlets that have participated in these activities are downright impressive: Associated Press, Bloomberg, Al-Jazeera, The Guardian, BBC News, Reuters, Washington Post, The Daily Signal, Fox News, France 24, NBC News, AFP, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, TIME, The Sun, The Independent, The Telegraph and many more huge media players.
No doubt, all these “giants of objective journalisms” will most certainly survive their presence on the FARA list and unabashedly continue to present themselves as the most transparent and democratic media on the planet.
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