Africa Intelligence: Washington Plans to Remove Al-Kabir from CBL Governorship – Al Marsad

Africa Intelligence, a leading news platform on energy, economy, politics and topics relevant to North African countries, published a report on the Central Bank of Libya and the role of its Governor, Siddik Al-Kabir. The report was titled “Washington, Doha and Ankara wrestle for control of the Central Bank of Libya.”

[Libya, 23 October 2019] – The leading news website, Africa Intelligence, said that “the unification of the two Central Banks of Libya (CBL) is a priority for Washington, which has been doing all in its power since September to oust the powerful governor of the Tripoli CBL, Al Seddik Omar Al Kabir.” However, according to the same report, the CBL Governor who has been “clinging to his post since the official end of his mandate in 2014, has backers in Doha and Ankara.”

The report adds, “with support from Qatar and Turkey, Central Bank of Libya (CBL) governor Al Seddik Omar Al Kabir, 68, has succeeded in making himself a man to be reckoned with. The bank is the country’s financial nerve centre. It has three strategic functions: it receives and redistributes the oil revenues of the National Oil Corporation (NOC); it validates the letters of credit needed for importing; and it manages the country’s foreign currency reserves. But Al Kabir’s pervasive presence has finally upset the United States, which consider him to be an obstacle to a settlement of the Libyan conflict and to the restoration of order among the country’s financial institutions. As of now, Washington considers his removal to be a priority.”

Financial Scrutiny by the US on Al-Kabir and the CBL

Although Al-Kabir appeared to be smiling when he stood by the US Treasury and International Monetary Fund representatives in the State Department’s George C. Marshall Centre lobby while visiting the US capital mid-October, he was not comfortable at all, according to the report.

Siddik Al-Kabir (highlighted in red) standing with US Treasury and International Monetary Fund representatives at the State Department.

According to the same report, Al-Kabir is under intense pressure from Washington, which “launched a first offensive” against the CBL Governor in the Tunisian capital on 24 September via Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Treasury, Eric Meyer, and the US Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland.

“Meyer met Al Kabir in the Tunisian capital and exchanged sharp words with the Libyan Central Banker. He ordered him to improve governance of the CBL and its subsidiaries and bring its accounts back into good order. These remonstrances are part of a bigger project. Washington wants to reunify the Tripoli central bank and its eastern rival, governed by Ali El Hebri. This reunification is written into the United Nation’s crisis exit plan for Libya and represents the financial dimension of the peace plan which is backed by the United States,” the report continues.

Siddik Al-Kabir with Ambassador Richard Norland and Eric Meyer.

Africa Intelligence stated that the “main obstacle is Al Kabir. In its crusade against the Central Bank, Washington can count on French support. The French foreign ministry launched a campaign a year ago to get him to stand down in favour of Mohamed Shokry, who was chosen as governor of the central bank by the Tobruk House of Representatives in December 2017.”

To achieve harmony in the Central Bank of Libya, and to reach an understanding, the report says that “the United States can use the United States has a weapon of massive dissuasion. It can threaten Al Kabir with sanctions on the grounds that he has provided financing for terrorism. An audit of both central banks should be carried out. Its realization has been demanded by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) since July 2018. The affair is being managed directly by UNSMIL number two Stephanie Williams but the process of choosing the firms to carry it out, in which UNSMIL is engaged, is still in progress.”

Such  inspection of CBL’s accounts, typically by an independent body, could put Al Kabir in a very critical position, according to the report. Auditors will have the task of reviewing all transactions made by the Central Bank of Libya since 2011. “They could seek to elucidate accusations made against the governor, like his alleged his approval on behalf of the Ministry of Defense of the payment of two cheques to armed Islamist groups belonging to the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, which is dominated by Ansar Al Sharia, the local branch of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In 2014, the latter was officially branded a terrorist organization by the United States and the United Nations among others but not by Tripoli. At the time, the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries was combating Khalifa Haftar’s offensive for control of the city,” the Africa Intelligence continued.

Strong Support from the Muslim Brotherhood

The report pointed out that “in Tripoli, which has been torn apart since April 4 by the conflict between General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and Tripoli government forces, Al Kabir has the backing of prime minister Fayez Sarraj. The two men have execrable relations but the head of government needs the Central Bank chief more than ever to support the war effort and keep up pressure on the eastern Libyan banks. On April 29, the Tripoli CBL stopped letters of credit being issued by four banks in Cyrenaica. This operation has helped to starve Khalifa Haftar of the funds on which he relies from the eastern banks.”

In the Libyan capital, the report confirms that the CBL Governor heavily rely on the security services provided by the militias to protect the bank which is located on the al-Shatt Street, near the Tripoli sea harbour in the Old Medina. According to the same news platform, the Governor of the CBL avails security support provided by the Special Deterrence Force (RADA), commanded by Abdul Rauf Kara. In spite of the strong backing received from RADA whose elements have administrative assignments in addition to security tasks at the highest financial institution in the oil-rich North African nation, Al Kabir enjoys strong backing from his “most powerful ally”: the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to the report, the Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in infiltrating the ministries of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). “Al Kabir’s appointment as Governor of the CBL in 2011 was organized, moreover, by the Muslim Brotherhood’s networks. The Governor can count, too, on Tripoli’s Ambassador in Turkey Abdul Razzag Mukhtar Abdul Gader, who is a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. He championed Al Kabir’s application before the National Transitional Council Chairman Mustapha Abdel Jalil. Abdul Gader has also cultivated his links with the Muslim Brotherhood in Ankara, where he has served since 2012. This is a key link. With Qatar, Turkey is the Government of National Accord’s main backer,” the report continued.

Tripoli’s Ambassador in Turkey, Abdul Razzag Mukhtar Abdul Gader, is a leading figure of the Muslim Brotherhood

According to the same report, Al Kabir can benefit from the “connections of his henchman Tarik Yousef al Megaryef, son of former General National Congress president Mohamed al Megaryef. A director of the CBL, he has since 2015 also been head of its Bahrain subsidiary Arab Banking Corp. Tarik al Megaryef, who is not short of contacts in Qatar, is head of the Brookings Doha Center, the Doha branch of liberal, Washington-based think-tank The Brookings Institution. And he headed Qatar’s Silatech association, which is headed by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, mother of the incumbent Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. He presented himself, moreover, as a possible successor to Al Kabir in 2015.”

Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser of Qatar oversees the signing of agreements between Silatech, represented by Tarik Yousef, and some of its partners

Africa Intelligence concluded its report by referring to what it described as “manoeuvres” by the army via the international community for control of the CBL, accusing Al-Kabir of financing the Tripoli militias. The report also referred to the support of the army for a plan to appoint Farhat Omar Bengdara as governor. Bengdara was actually a CBL governor till 2011 when the regime of the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was toppled. The news platform asserted that Farhat Bengdara “has already had experience of the CBL, having been its governor before 2011.” Africa Intelligence also said that the army tried to stop the flow of petrodollars to Fayez Sarraj’s Government of National Accord by setting up an escrow account for profits from oil sales , but it was unsuccessful.”

Source: Africa Intelligence