FARA Document Reveals How GNA’s Lobbying Firm Promotes Wolfram Lacher – Al Marsad

New records filed with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by the lobby firm Mercury which is working with the Fayez Sarraj government shows it promoting the German Wolfram Lacher as a “highly regarded” authority on Libya to deny Muslim Brotherhood influence within the Government of National Account (GNA).

(Libya, 12 June 2020) – The German Libya expert Wolfram Lacher, a Senior Associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) is a well-known writer on Libyan affairs. In July 2018, he co-authored a briefing paper with Alaa al-Idrissi titled “Capital of Militias: Tripoli’s Armed Groups Capture the Libyan State”, an important study that unveiled the influence of paramilitary forces working with the Government of National Accord (GNA). Lacher’s study showed how “militia cartel in Tripoli” exerted “influence over state institutions and resources” in a way that was unprecedented in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Lacher argued in the brief that the militia cartel was controlling the administration and the economy and that the situation was fuelling a possible “new war over the capital”, blaming the US and the international community along with the GNA for having “tacitly supported the expansion of these militias.”

However, since the 2018 work, Lacher has since become a vocal and virulent supporter of the GNA. From the onset of the conflict in Tripol with the Libyan National Army (LNA) in April 2019, Lacher’s articles and twitter posts have exhibited regular diatribes and blatantly one-sided ad hominem attacks against Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the LNA, and influential personalities who belong to the anti-GNA/Islamist/Erdogan camp.

One such figure who is regularly attacked by the Muslim Brotherhood cartel through sustained media campaigns is Dr Aref Ali Nayed—against whom Wolfram Lacher wrote a twitter post supporting attacks made against him by the Islamist February Channel. Here is a photo, however, of Lacher with Dr Nayed in Berlin in June 2015 during better times:

Wolfram Lacher and Dr Aref Ali Nayed at SWP in Berlin (June 2015)

Furthermore, in addition to attacks and rants against anti-GNA dynamics and developments, he has also been actively blocking Libyan experts, officials, and activists. It was clear, however to Libyan experts that Lacher was not interested in academic and dispassionate analysis on Libya but that his academic work has morphed into that of an activist promoting only pro-GNA/Islamist/Erdogan viewpoints and analysis.

MERCURY AND WOLFRAM LACHER

The Government of National Accord hired in April 2019 the US-based lobby group Mercury Public Affairs LLC to lobby the Trump administration, Congress and to identify, develop and articulate a pro-GNA narrative to interest groups and media. The GNA pays Mercury a monthly retainer of US$150,000 per month, an additional US$50,000 every quarter for expenses accrued, and an initial downpayment of US$500,000 as evidenced by the records with FARA.

Mercury is a leading lobbying firm in the US and its other state clients not surprisingly also include Turkey and Qatar, along with China and Russia. For the GNA lobbying efforts, Mercury signed high-profile lobbyists such as former Republican Senator David Vitter, former Trump adviser Bryan Lanza and Suheyla Tayla, a former Turkish-American policy expert at the US Embassy in Ankara, all of whom are registered as lobbyists with FARA under the GNA contract.

Mercury has managed to craft a massive PR drive that placed pro-GNA and anti-LNA articles and OpEds through all leading western publications. The patten of omission of all detail against the GNA, Islamist militias and influence, Turkey and Syrian jihadists and its relentless focus on Haftar and Russia was designed to win the ear of the Trump administration and Congress.

The distortion of the Libya narrative in the media so that it dovetails with a pro-GNA narratives and obscures all else, was highlighted by a new FARA filling by Mercury dated 12 May 2020:

 

The email by Molly Toomey, who is a managing director at Mercury and previously led public relations “for a $1 billion residential housing project financed by Qatari Diar, the real estate arm of the Qatar Investment Authority”, refers to the journalist Anchal Vohra’s (a freelance writer for Al Jazeera) article in Foreign Policy which described the Sarraj’s GNA government as being “backed by the Muslim Brotherhood”.

Clearly unhappy with any suggestion of the GNA being backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Toomey states that she sent Vohra a number of posts and articles, the first among which was Wolfram Lacher, who she describes to Vohra as “highly regarded” and sends her the following tweet:

However, Lacher in this tweet was wrong in denying the presence of Khaled Sharif in Libya. Several Libyan sources confirmed his return to Libya in May 2020. Khaled al-Sharif, deputy emir of the terrorist Al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) returned from Turkey to begin his activities in Tripoli in coordination with Tunisia to assist in the GNA war efforts against the LNA. Libyan sources said that he had arrived to Tripoli with the head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan

The FARA copy of the email by Molly Toomey clearly indicates how the writings of certain Libya experts such as Wolfram Lacher are being promoted to push particular revisionist narratives to distort the Islamist influence within the GNA and completely deny its presence.

MERCURY AND THE “MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD-FREE” GNA SPIN

Toomey’s email to Vohra shows how Mercury is attempting to deny any influence of the Muslim Brotherhood Islamists on the GNA. The reality, however is that the GNA and its inter-connected institutions are indeed influenced and represented by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. Here are some examples of leading figures at the heart of the GNA:

Ali Issawi, who until last month was the GNA’s Minister of Economy, is a Muslim Brotherhood/Justice and Construction Party member.

– The current GNA’s Minister of Health, Ahmed bin Omar, and his Deputy are both members of the Muslim Brotherhood/Justice and Construction Party

– The Presidential Council’s member Abdul-Rahman Kajman is a Muslim Brotherhood/Justice and Construction Party member.

– The Presidential Council‘s member and GNA’s Minister of Education Muhammad Amari Zayed, was a member of the Islamic Assembly group affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, and close to the terrorist group Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries (BRSC) and Ansar Al Sharia. The United States said Ansar al-Sharia was behind the 2012 Benghazi attack that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

– The head of the High Council of State, Khaled al-Mishri, is a Muslim Brotherhood/Justice and Construction Party member. Even though he claims having left the Muslim Brotherhood, most Libya experts know that this was a ploy to ensure that he was able to visit the US in 2019 in order to convince the Trump Administration and Congress members to support anti-LNA efforts.

– The Central Bank of Libya, the country’s most important financial institution is also in the grip of the Muslim Brotherhood. For more detailed information see:

The Muslim Brotherhood Grip’s on Libyan Financial Institutions: The Case of Mustapha Al-Manea

As the names above indicate all too well, and in addition to the Islamist “militia cartel” that Wolfram Lacher had correctly described in 2018 but which he chose to avoid in 2020, clearly gives an idea of how the UN-recognised GNA led by Fayez al-Sarraj is influenced and represented by the Muslim Brotherhood who control the joints of the Libyan state in Tripoli.

© Al Marsad English (2020)

 

FURTHER LINKS

LIFG Military Leader: Turkish Forces in Libya Will Shift Balance of Power in Favour of the GNA Armed Groups

Khaled Al-Mishri Shows Solidarity with the UN-Sanctioned Fuel Smuggler Kachlaf

Terrorists and Extremists Fight Under the Umbrella of the UN-Backed GNA