How Can Dead Broke Libya Afford A Million-Dollar American Lobbyist?

How Can Dead Broke Libya Afford A Million-Dollar American Lobbyist?

From THE DAILY BEAST: The fledgling government of Libya has hired a top-flight Washington PR firm to represent its interests in D.C., even though by all accounts Libya is a failed state with no real functioning government.

This month, the Libyan embassy in Washington, which maintains a small office in the Watergate office complex, signed a one-year contract worth $1 million with Qorvis MSLGROUP, to “provide strategic advice and assistance on public relations issues,” according to records filed with the Justice Department.

Precisely why the government has decided to spend so heavily on a foreign political campaign when it’s fighting for its life against Islamic radicals, political rivals, and ISIS is unclear. Officials at the embassy didn’t respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

But Libya needs all the help it can get in Washington, which officially recognizes a democratically-elected government in the eastern city of Tobruk, and not a rival faction in Tripoli. The country’s embassy in the U.S. is operated by Tobruk. Libya has become a breeding ground for jihadists, and ISIS has staged mass beheadings of Christians and journalists. The overwhelming number of emigrants fleeing North Africa across the Mediterranean for Europe are leaving from Libya. And Egypt, which has managed to repair some of its relations with the Obama administration after a 2013 military coup that led to a halt in U.S. arms sales, sees Libya as a major threat to its internal security, both because Libya has become a hotbed for radicals and is the source of a huge illicit arms market.

Libya is by no means a powerful force in the Middle East and North Africa. Nor is the Tobruk administration skilled at navigating the waters of U.S. politics and foreign policy, according to regional officials and experts on the region, who said the embassy in Washington is staffed largely by activists, not diplomats.

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