Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 3436 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YM YI YE

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Browse by 2008/07

<< 1 .. 1 2 .. 2 >>
Reference ID Subject Created Released Classification Origin
08TRIPOLI515 LIBYAN LEADER AUTHOR OF HARD LINE ON DETAINED HUMAN RIGHTS 2008-07-01 2011-02-01 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Tripoli
08LONDON1761 CWS/BWC: CLOSE ALLIES MEETING, JUNE 17-18, 2008 2008-07-02 2011-02-01 SECRET Embassy London
08TRIPOLI526 LIBYA SEEKS TO BLACKMAIL EUROPEAN MISSIONS FOR VISAS 2008-07-03 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI527 LIBYAN RESPONSE ON ARB-4 REVIEW PROCEEDINGS 2008-07-03 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI530 LIBYA'S BERBER MINORITY STILL OUT IN THE COLD 2008-07-03 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI540 CHEVRON MAY QUIT LIBYA 2008-07-08 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI541 EUROPEANS ENGAGE GOL ON BOUFAYED HUMAN RIGHTS CASE 2008-07-08 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI554 LIBYAN MEASURES TO CHECK RISING FOOD COSTS AND ACQUIRE 2008-07-09 2011-02-01 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI563 OXY'S 30-YEAR EXTENSION IN LIBYA AND WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR OTHER IOCS REF: A) TRIPOLI 555 B) 2007 TRIPOLI 983 TRIPOLI 00000563 001.2 OF 003 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, U.S. Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: The long-awaited ratification of Oxy's contract extension in Libya has solidified its position as one of Libya's leading oil and gas players. The process by which the contract was finalized has shed light on what lies ahead for other foreign companies, all of whom are expected to be approached soon to sign similar deals. The extensions contain considerable benefits, including higher profits, anti-corruption measures and less state company obstructionism; however, they contain lower production shares and reduced bookable reserve levels, and mandate a heavy reliance on the thinly-stretched National Oil Corporation. Given projections for steadily rising global energy costs, it remains to be seen how long the new contracts will remain in place without amendment. End Summary. 2. (C) Following the well-publicized announcement of Occidental Petroleum's (Oxy) extension in Libya (Ref A), post's Econoff and Econ/Commercial Assistant sat down with John Winterman (protect), Oxy's Country Manager for Libya, to discuss the negotiation process and contract terms, and assess the playing field for other international oil companies (IOCs) active in Libya. Winterman's experience in his current position and former tenure as Oxy's Worldwide Exploration Manager for 7 years makes him one of the most knowledgeable observers of Libya's energy sector. DONE DEAL - AT LAST 3. (C) Winterman confirmed the general contract terms outlined in press reports. Oxy and its partner OMV (Austria) signed a total of five Exploration and Production Sharing (EPSA) contracts with Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) on June 23. The contracts were based on terms of a "Heads of Agreement" memoranda signed between Oxy's Chairman and NOC Chairman Shukri Ghanem on November 24, 2007 (ref B). As reported in the press, Oxy paid a $1 billion signature bonus as part of the deal, and has committed to $2.5 billion (split 75/25 for Oxy/OMV) investment plan, with the NOC matching an equal amount for investment. Oxy intends to drill some 400 wells starting in 2011, requiring a minimum of 12-15 rigs working full-time. The contract extension allows them to bring in 50 additional staff, including 16 Amcits, all of whom already have their visas and residency permits. 4. (C) A two-person NOC negotiating team worked on all three agreements (Eni, Petro-Canada and Oxy). The NOC's driving force behind the negotiation process was Assam Ali Elmessallati, who bears the title Committee Member for Investment and Joint Venture Follow-Up. According to Winterman, Elmessallati stalled negotiations with Eni (the first of the three agreements that the NOC tackled), pulling a near-final agreement off the table in order to conduct further "internal reviews". According to Winterman, Elmessallati conducted "an internal socialization process" in which he circulated the agreement broadly to get as many Libyan government "fingerprints" on the deal as possible. His past role as architect of the EPSA IV process likely informed the effort, which garnered enough buy-in for the deal to move forward without the threat of last-minute opposition from parties who would have gone unconsulted absent his efforts. Winterman also noted that it was vital that these new EPSA deals be presented General People's Committee (Cabinet-equivalent) as "extensions" verses, as opposed to new deals that would have to be re-bid from scratch. NEW TERMS ARE BROADLY BENEFICIAL 5. (C) The IOCs' previous deals were based on a fixed margin, meaning that companies were somewhat insulated from fluxuations in the market price of oil by receiving a fixed price for every barrel produced. The new EPSA deals, while resulting in a lower overall production share for the IOCs, removes that fixed margin, allowing companies to reap higher profits per barrel when oil prices are high. That, together with the fact that the NOC will now cover the costs for all taxes, royalties and fees, results in the IOCs making a great deal more money per barrel of oil produced. Winterman assesses that the IOCs will get their money back (i.e. signature bonuses and investment requirements) very quickly under the new EPSA deals, as greater revenue driven by high oil prices will generate rapid reimbursement of their outlays. TRIPOLI 00000563 002.2 OF 003 6. (C) An additional element of the new terms is that the ties between the IOCs and their local Libyan operating partners (Zuetina in Oxy/OMV's case) are less direct, in two distinct ways. Development plans for existing fields are now no longer run through the Libyan operators, but have been negotiated directly with the NOC under the new agreements. This means that traditional Libyan national company resistance to new investment and technologies (i.e., the much lamented tendency to keep things "the old way") have been swept aside, paving the way (with NOC approval) for more ambitious field development that should boost Libya's national production much more quickly. (Note: The NOC claims it will increase national production from a current level of 1.75 million bbl/day to 3 million bbl/day figure by 2012-15. End note.). The new EPSA framework has a substantial new anti-corruption measure that will prevent state-run companies (infamous for skimming off the top of contracts) from being involved in the tendering process. The new tendering arrangement will be between IOC and NOC representatives only, so the state-run companies have been frozen out entirely. This new arrangement creates "Joint Project Teams" that should reduce the potential for graft, while at the same time allowing for faster work rates through a streamlined decision-making and tendering process. Finally, the EPSA agreements incorporate robust IOC-provided training programs for Libyan nationals, which should help to ensure the creation of Libya's next generation of energy sector experts. TWO SHORTCOMINGS: BOOKED RESERVES SHARE SMALLER . 7. (C) The new contracts, which feature lower production shares (now in the 10-12% range, down from 20% or higher), mean that companies can no longer "book reserves" (i.e., demonstrate to stockholders that they are contractually guaranteed to have access to a proven quantity of oil and gas) to the degree that they have in the past. This creates a new paradigm for Libya that is playing out worldwide in a growing number of oil-producing countries where the state and its energy authority are demanding tough terms for in-country IOCs. Winterman assesses that this trade-off between booked reserves and profit is creating a new system where the old rules no longer apply; the thinking of IOCs' stockholders will have to evolve to reflect the fact that their companies' stock values should be evaluated differently in an environment where reserves are harder to replace. Because this new way of thinking is still evolving, lowered production shares have the potential to hurt companies' stock prices in the short term. 8. (C) An additional consideration in this regard is the recent surge of interest in Libya on the part of non-Western IOCs (particularly from India, Japan, Russia and China), who have won the bulk of concessions in the NOC's recent acreage bid rounds. These government-owned companies are driven by the desire to book reserves to assure supply to their domestic markets in the years to come. Assuming that their exploration of Libyan acreage bears fruit in the discovery of exploitable reserves, they may find that NOC terms allow them to book less in reserves that they had hoped. With that prospect in the offing, the interest of companies primarily concerned with booking reserves may wane as they consider making the jump to producing entities. ..AND GREATER NOC INVOLVEMENT NOT A PANACEA 9. (C) Although the new agreements carry substantial benefits, the more central involvement of the NOC does not by itself guarantee more efficient operations. Winterman stressed that the NOC is still more concerned with "price over performance," and can often be a difficult sell when it comes to using the latest (more expensive) technologies to generate efficiencies and augment output. He also questioned whether the NOC would be willing and able to hold up its end of the investment burden, as it has shown reluctance to make the kind of substantial re-investments in existing fields that their $2.5 billion commitment under the Oxy deal requires. Delays are likely, particularly given the NOC's haphazard budgeting process. For example, the NOC only received approval for the current year's budget in June, and even that approval only resulted in flatlined spending along the same lines as the previous year. Also, although the NOC retains many skilled technocrats with long experience and educational ties to the U.S., that group represents a dying breed (nearing retirement age), and the NOC's TRIPOLI 00000563 003.2 OF 003 bench strength is being rapidly depleted as many of its best personnel take more lucrative opportunities in the private sector in Libya and abroad. The fact that the Eni, Petro-Canada and Oxy deals were hammered out using a common text reinforces the notion that the NOC is seeking to simplify the terms under which companies operate, in part because of its own limited institutional capacity. NEXT ON THE BLOCK: EVERYONE ELSE 10. (C) Winterman was confident in predicting that Repsol (Spain), Wintershall (Germany) and TOTAL (France) were the next IOCs who would be forced to extend their presence in Libya via the signing of new EPSA agreements. After that, the next major set of operators will be the companies of the Oasis Group, composed of U.S. firms ConocoPhillips, Marathon and Hess. This NOC approach is reportedly on the horizon, despite the fact that the Oasis companies paid $1.8 billion in December 2005 to reclaim their former Sirte basin acreage in concert with local operator Waha (the eponymous Libyan state-run oil company that took over the fields when they left) following two years of negotiations with the NOC. The Waha-Oasis group currently produces about 350,000 bbl/day, roughly one-fifth of Libya's total oil output. Econoff has been told separately by the Country Managers of both ConocoPhillips and Marathon that senior NOC officials have hinted that a new deal with the Oasis group should be negotiated soon. 11. (C) This will present a unique challenge for the Oasis group, as the two major shareholders (CP and Marathon) reportedly have very different corporate priorities in Libya. For Marathon, whose booked Libyan production accounts for some 60% of the company's worldwide total, a reduction in production rate under an EPSA could have serious repercussions for the company's share price. On the other hand, ConocoPhillips is judged to have sufficient worldwide booked reserves that a drop in its production share would not be such a major blow, and its overall size puts it in a better position to reinvest the greater financial returns stemming from a new deal. Both would benefit from being freed from the intransigence to change shown by their counterparts in Waha (who routinely deflect their proposals for field development projects), but it may prove difficult for the Oasis partners to adopt a shared approach when the NOC begins to press in earnest for a extension of their presence. 12. (C) COMMENT: Although the concession extensions carry some positive aspects, the fact that the NOC may be prepared to reopen negotiations with the Oasis group is troubling. If the Waha consortium is forced to renegotiate after cementing a deal less than three years ago at a cost of $1.8 billion, can it - or any other IOC operating in Libya - reasonably expect that the new agreements will stand the test of time? Given the GOL's political approach to economic policymaking, as well as its penchant for extracting maximum concessions for production of its hydrocarbon resources, how long would revenue from oil that could hit $175 or $200/bbl oil be allowed to accrue to foreign companies before the GOL would (again) seek a larger cut? While the answer to that question remains to be seen, it is clear is that the recent contract extensions have set Eni, Petro-Canada and Oxy apart as leaders in the Libyan energy sector. It is expected that they will account for at least 55% of Libya's total oil production if the terms of their contracts are fulfilled. End comment. GODFREY. 2008-07-13 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI564 NATIONAL OIL CORPORATION CHAIRMAN SHUKRI GHANEM MAY SEEK TO 2008-07-13 2011-02-01 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI566 LIBYA SIGNS CIVILIAN NUCLEAR DEAL WITH FRANCE 2008-07-14 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI567 THE EU-LIBYA FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT: VENI, VISAS, VETO 2008-07-14 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI574 U.K. VISIT TO RABTA CHEMICAL WEAPONS PRODUCTION FACILITY 2008-07-14 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI577 QADHAFI FOUNDATION CONTINUES DIALOGUE ON RELEASE OF FORMER 2008-07-15 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08STATE77144 NUCLEAR FORENSICS EXPERTS PLAN PATH FORWARD 2008-07-17 2011-02-01 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Secretary of State
08TRIPOLI584 LIBYAN FOREIGN BANK - PRIMED FOR EXPANSION REF: A) GODFREY-MCKEEHAN EMAIL 7/15/2008, B) TRIPOLI 214, C) TRIPOLI 230, D) TRIPOLI 126, E) TRIPOLI 199, F) TRIPOLI 227 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy - Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: The Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB), Libya's longtime conduit for international trade, is pursuing a substantial program of expansion involving a ten-fold increase in its capitalization and creation of an onshore bank. Its chairman is aggressively seeking new investment opportunities in Africa and beyond, and is contemplating whether and how to get into the U.S. market. The LFB recently doubled its capitalization of Bahrain-based Alubaf Bank, of which it has a 95 percent share. Regarding much-anticipated GOL reform initiatives, the LFB's Chairman expects a reprise of past efforts that featured form over substance. End Summary. 2. (SBU) CDA and Econoff met with Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Bayt Almal, Chairman of the Libyan Foreign Bank (formerly known as the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank) on July 16 to discuss recent changes at the LFB and its plans for the future. Established in 1972 as an offshore bank, the LFG has been Libya's leading institution for transactions essential to the conduct of international trade (issuing letters of credit, providing currency exchange services, etc.). The LFB has historically been the only Libyan bank that handled foreign currency accounts; Bayt Almal confirmed that it still does not possess any Libyan dinar-denominated accounts. ALUBAF BANK 3. (C) CDA asked about press reports detailing recent initiatives made by Bahrain-based Alubaf Arab International Bank. Bayt Almal confirmed that a proposal to double Alubaf's capital to $100 million and to appoint Bayt Almal to the Board of Directors were approved by shareholders in a meeting on July 9. He offered that Alubaf Bank nearly collapsed after a significant number of Iraqi-owned accounts were closed in 2003, but said the bank had since rebounded. He confirmed that the LFB owns a 95% share of Alubaf's Bahrain branch and 100% of its branch in Tunisia (ref A). Libya's Central Bank owns 100% of LFB, and is therefore the ultimate owner of Alubaf. DIVERSIFIED & SEEKING A PRESENCE IN THE U.S. 4. (SBU) The LFB's foreign interests are diverse and growing. It currently has "participation" (i.e., interests) in thirty-seven foreign entities located in twenty countries, from Mexico to China. Most of its interests are focused in sub-Saharan Africa, including every country in the Maghreb except Morocco. Bayt Almal estimated the LFB's current capital at $1 billion, with assets in excess of $21 billion worldwide. We had heard and reported previously that all Libyan government and financial institutions had divested themselves of holdings and accounts in the U.S. in response to potential seizure of assets under Section 1083 of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (the so-called Lautenberg Amendment. According to Bayt Almal, the LFB continues to hold U.S. dollar accounts and - despite efforts by the Libyan Investment Authority and other Libyan government entities to limit their exposure in the U.S. (ref B) - is actively exploring the possibility of establishing a "strategic partnership" with a major U.S. bank and investing in a U.S.-based bank. LAND HO: MOVING ONSHORE 5. (SBU) Bayt Almal said that the LFB planned to open an onshore bank in Libya soon, contingent on approval by its parent institution, the Central Bank (CB). A plan currently before CB Governor Farhat Ben Gdara calls for a ten-fold expansion of the LFB's capital, from $1 billion to $10 billion. Conceding that LFB had aimed high, Bayt Almal said he would be happy with $6-7 billion, and expected to get it. Part of the justification for expanded capitalization involves establishing an onshore entity, which would allow LFB to diversify the range of products it offers in the Libyan market. With the continuing reform of the Libyan banking system, to include the purchase of stakes in Libyan banks by foreign entities (refs C, D), the LFB wants to ensure that it will remain competitive. It intends to inaugurate risk management and asset management services, which would both be entirely new service lines for the bank. (Note: Risk management and asset management are areas CB Governor Ben Gdara told us are most in need of help. End note.) In anticipation of this step, the LFB has expanded its training TRIPOLI 00000584 002 OF 002 efforts, sending employees abroad for hands-on training at partner institutions in Europe (Britain, France, Belgium, and Germany) and the Middle East (Jordan and the UAE). Bayt Almal cited a dearth of trained employees as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to banking reform in Libya. AL-QADHAFI'S PROPOSED GOVERNMENT REFORMS - "FORM OVER SUBSTANCE" 6. (C) Responding to a question about expected privatization and government restructuring stemming from Muammar al-Qadhafi's dramatic speech to the General People's Congress on March 2 (refs E, F), Bayt Almal wearily noted that Libya had "been through this before". He referred to his own experience in 2000, when the Libyan Cabinet underwent wholesale changes, leaving only Bayt Almal (then the Finance Minister) and the Foreign Minister in a "Prime Minister-plus two" formulation. During that round of reform, other ministries were re-labeled as "Haya" (translated as "institution" or "entity"). Despite the semantics, the old structures were essentially left in place. Bayt Almal expected a similar outcome at the end of the current reform exercise. He predicted that foreign affairs, defense, finance and the security services would be left intact in their current guises as "sovereign ministries" that would report directly to the Prime Minister-equivalent, a formulation al-Qadhafi himself hinted at in his March 2 address. 7. (C) Biographical Note: Bayt Almal was born in Egypt in 1948 and spent his childhood in Benghazi, despite the fact that his family originally hails from Misurata. He spent 1970-1978 in U.S., where he obtained an MA in accounting (in Muncie, Indiana) and PhD (at the University of Kentucky in Lexington) in finance. He then returned to Libya, where taught accounting at Garyounis University in Benghazi before serving as Secretary of Finance (1992-2000) and Auditor General (2003-2005). Various sources report that he served a three-year prison sentence in 2000-2003 in connection with an embezzlement case in Benghazi (Emboffs were not able to corroborate this story during their office call). Bayt Almal was married in 1970 while in the U.S., and he has seven daughters (two of them AmCits by birth), all of whom currently reside in/around Misurata. End biographical note. GODFREY 2008-07-21 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI588 LIBYA ENFORCES TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS AGAINST U.S. OFFICIALS REF: A) TRIPOLI 530, B) TRIPOLI 412, C) STATE 55839, D) TRIPOLI 478 (NOTAL), E) 07 TRIPOLI 165, F) TRIPOLI 515 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy - Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: Four years after re-establishing diplomatic relations, the Government of Libya (GOL) remains deeply concerned about efforts to cover internal political issues and actively seeks to prevent Emboffs from traveling in-country and engaging with Libyans. The GOL has actively enforced new strictures to prevent certain foreign diplomats from traveling outside Tripoli without prior permission and a travel permit. The measures have been justified on security grounds; however, they appear to be largely motivated by a desire to circumscribe reporting on internal political issues and to specifically target U.S. diplomats. While perceptions of foreign interference are known to be a particularly neuralgic issue for the GOL, recent actions to limit our activities nonetheless go beyond the pale, the more so since since they appear to specifically target U.S. diplomats. Since March, there have been five instances of proposed in-country travel by Emboffs - involving five different officers and four different putative destinations - that the GOL has effectively blocked. Given that the regime's other recent measures on sensitive bilateral issues appear to have been authored at the highest levels, engagement by senior officials in Washington with their GOL interlocutors will likely be necessary to mitigate the current constraints on Post's ability to conduct in-country travel and engagement with Libyans. End comment. ATTEMPTS TO CONDUCT IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL, ENGAGEMENT STRIKE A NERVE 2. (C) As reported ref A, an attempt to visit the historical Berber heartland in March prompted an angry response from the MFA and a prohibition against travel to the city of Zuwara by Emboffs. MFA interlocutors angrily denounced Post's attempt to engage with the Berber community as "unacceptable interference" in Libya's domestic affairs. Following the Berber incident, CDA and P/E Chief spoke with MFA counterparts to clarify the mechanism by which proposed in-country travel could be coordinated through the MFA to avoid complications. 3. (C) Following the protocol established in those discussions, post proposed in early March that Poloff visit the southern city of Sabha (located some 650 km southeast of Tripoli, in the Fezzan Province) to meet with Libyan officials to discuss local government and migration issues. The MFA claimed to support the visit and offered to facilitate meetings with local Libyan officials. Post formally advised the MFA of Emboff's travel plans on March 30; however, on April 19, the MFA asked that the visit be delayed to allow additional time to arrange meetings with the Basic People's Congress in Sabha. The MFA also requested changes in the language of the diplomatic note advising the GOL of the proposed visit. Post sent a new diplomatic note, incorporating the MFA's suggested changes, on April 22 regarding Poloff's proposed visit to Sabha on May 6, and was in regular contact with the MFA concerning trip logistics from May 1-6. EMBOFF DETAINED TO PREVENT TRAVEL TO SABHA 4. (C) On May 6, Libyan security officials pulled Poloff out of line on the tarmac at Tripoli International Airport while he attempted to board a commercial flight from to Sabha. A plainclothes security official took Emboff's travel documents; other plainclothes security officials and uniformed police prevented Poloff from boarding the flight. A uniformed police officer told Poloff he was not allowed to wait on the tarmac and escorted him inside the terminal, where he was directed to report to the senior security official on site at the airport to retrieve his travel documents. Poloff was subsequently detained for approximately an hour in the senior security official's office, where he was surrounded by four to six uniformed and plainclothes security officials and two armed guards in uniform. Security officials attempted to question Poloff about his work at the Embassy and accused Poloff of not having a valid residence permit to remain in Libya. Poloff was told during the course of questioning that his luggage had not been loaded on the aircraft because security officials had decided well before the flight that he would not be allowed to travel. (Note: The MFA was aware that Poloff intended to travel on May 6 and gave no indication that there was any problem with the proposed trip. End note.) Nearly two hours after he was to have boarded the flight, security officials informed Poloff that he must "leave the airport immediately" without further explanation. 5. (C) Following the incident at the airport on May 6, the MFA TRIPOLI 00000588 002 OF 004 sent Post a diplomatic note asking that the Sabha trip be "delayed". A senior Libyan official told CDA on May 8 that while the MFA would attempt to coordinate with security officials to reschedule the visit, elements of the security apparatus, particularly the External Security Organization (ESO), were deeply uncomfortable with attempts by reporting officers to travel in-country and engage with Libyans outside of narrowly circumscribed official channels. To date, the MFA has not arranged the requested Sabha visit; Post has been informed that all Emboffs are currently banned from traveling to Libya's third largest city. MFA ATTEMPTS TO REQUIRE THAT ALL DIPLOMATS OBTAIN "PERMISSION" FOR IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL 6. (SBU) As reported ref B, the MFA sent to Western European and North American missions on May 19 a diplomatic note requiring that all diplomatic missions obtain "permission" (the Arabic wording is exact) for diplomats and/or members of their families to travel more than 70 km outside of Tripoli, regardless of the purpose of travel. Per guidance in ref C, Post has adopted a policy of notifying the GOL of travel by Emboffs and their families outside the 70 km radius. Add language on 'ya'ani greater Tripoli area" SECURITY SERVICES OBSTRUCT CHARGE'S TRAVEL TO BENGHAZI & POINTS EAST 7. (C) On May 23 - after receipt on May 19 of the MFA note requiring permission to travel and before receipt of ref C guidance on May 23 - security officials attempted to prevent CDA and two Emboffs from making a trip to Benghazi and eastern Libya for tourism. Four security officials, who identified themselves as External Security Organization (ESO) officials, met CDA inside the terminal at Tripoli International Airport and demanded to see his travel permit. Security officers were overheard discussing in Arabic the arrival of "the Americans" in the terminal. The officials noted that they were informed on May 22 that three Emboffs would attempt to travel to Benghazi. The ESO officials told CDA that the Emboffs would not be allowed to travel to Benghazi because they had not obtained permission to do so. CDA and Emboffs nonetheless attempted to check in for the flight; however, a security official physically went behind the airline counter to instruct the agent not to allow them to check in for their flight. After multiple phone calls to senior MFA and security officials, the security officials at the airport agreed to allow the officers to travel; however, they refused to allow Emboffs to ride on the same airport shuttle bus with other passengers and kept them under close observation. 8. (C) A Buraq Air agent told CDA and Emboffs during the encounter on May 23 that all Libyan-owned airlines with domestic service - Buraq Air, Libyan Arab Airlines, and Afriqiyah - received instructions from GOL officials in May that they were not to allow U.S. diplomats to board domestic flights from Tripoli without special permission from security organizations. The Buraq agent clarified that the instructions applied only to U.S diplomats, vice the entire diplomatic community. 9. (C) In Benghazi, security officials subjected CDA and Emboffs to a steady stream of harrassment. A security officer met CDA and Emboffs on the tarmac in Benghazi and immediately began questioning them about their trip. During a road trip from the Benghazi airport to Susa (some 200 km northeast), four security officials closely followed CDA and Emboffs. When they stopped at a scenic overlook, a security official in one of the chase cars got out and took numerous photographs of CDA, Emboffs and their locally-hired driver from a distance of five to ten feet. CDA confronted the official, who refused to identify himself and refused to stop taking photos. The same individual aggressively snapped hundreds of photographs of CDA, Emboffs, and the locally-engaged driver during the subsequent two days of their trip to eastern Libya. The driver, who is from Benghazi and is regularly used by Emboffs when they visit the east, said security officials routinely question him "for hours" after each visit by Emboffs and had instructed him to report any trip coordination with Emboffs at least 24 hours before their planned arrival in Benghazi. (Note: P/E Chief traveled to Benghazi and eastern Libya in early May and used the same driver, who is also used by PD officers when they travel in the east. End note.) Following Poloff's May 22 phone call to arrange a pick-up from the Benghazi airport, the driver had notified local security officials that the CDA and Emboffs planned to travel to Benghazi. TRIPOLI 00000588 003 OF 004 EMBOFFS DENIED "PERMISSION" TO TRAVEL IN SUPPORT OF U.S. PROGRAMS 10. (C) In late June, Post formally advised the MFA via diplomatic note that two Emboffs would accompany an Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) team to Benghazi, where they planned to conduct a three-day course on July 12-15 for 50 Libyan officials responsible for airport security and passenger screening. Post provided detailed information on Emboffs' proposed travel and clearly stated that they were to provide logistical support to the U.S. delegation. On July 9, the MFA informed Post via diplomatic note that Emboffs would not be permitted to travel to Benghazi in support of the EXBS training program (text of note sent via email to NEA/MAG). The note provided no explanation for denying permission to Emboffs to travel in support of the program. Post has cancelled the Benghazi portion of the airport security training course; a parallel EXBS airport security training program at the Tripoli International Airport is currently underway. In a meeting on July 15, MFA Americas Department Director Matari expressed frustration and conceded that such decisions were driven by security organizations, but said he would see what he could do to help. He advised that Emboffs seek in the interim to obtain the travel permit mandated in the May 19 diplomatic note to facilitate their in-country travel. 11. (C) On July 9, Post formally advised the MFA via diplomatic note that the Public Affairs Officer, CDA and their son would travel on July 20 to the Graeco-Roman ruins at Cyrene (east of Benghazi) for tourism. The PAO also intended to meet with representatives of the Global Heritage Fund, who received a USG grant for archaeological work being done at the Cyrene site. Despite daily inquiries between July 14 and 20, the GOL failed to issue travel permits for PAO and CDA. Inquiries to airline officials suggested that Emboffs would not be allowed to board the flight to Benghazi without travel permits; the trip was therefore cancelled. TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS APPEAR TO TARGET U.S. DIPLOMATS 12. (C) In addition to instructions prohibiting Libyan air carriers from boarding U.S. diplomats for domestic flights from Tripoli, the May 19 diplomatic note requiring diplomats and their families to obtain permission for travel more than 70 km outside Tripoli appears to be targeted at western diplomats, particularly those from the U.S. The requirement for travel permits has been on the books for some time; however, it has not been consistently enforced. Diplomats at the embassies of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Chad and Sudan told Emboffs their missions did not receive the MFA's note requiring travel permits and are not required to notify the GOL in advance of in-country travel. Egyptian and Tunisian diplomats laughed off the suggestion that they would comply with the requirement, noting that if the GOL tried to enforce it against them, their governments would immediately reciprocate with similar strictures on Libyan diplomats accredited to Cairo and Tunis. European diplomats report that while certain EU embassies provide the GOL with advance notice of their travel (the U.K., for instance), there are no known instances in which the GOL has restricted a European diplomat or their family from traveling outside Tripoli. Several eastern European missions that received the May 19 note told us they have no intention of complying with the requirement; personnel from those missions have subsequently traveled without incident (and without permits) to Benghazi, Sabha and Ghadames. 13. (C) Comment: Despite comments by senior GOL officials attesting to the desire for broader and deeper ties, significant elements of the regime, particularly within the security apparatus, remain deeply skeptical of U.S.-Libya bilateral re-engagement in general, and of Emboffs' travel and outreach in particular. The GOL maintains an expansive definition of "unacceptable interference" in its domestic affairs; security organizations regard any effort to engage with Libyans and to report on domestic issues as dangerously subversive, reflecting the regime's overweaning focus on pre-empting any potential challenge to its authority. While perceptions of foreign interference are known to be a particularly neuralgic issue for the GOL (witness the March 2006 attack on the Italian consulate in Benghazi and the December 2007 arrest of a Lukoil executive on charges of industrial espionage), GOL officials appear to harbor particular concerns about U.S. diplomats. Blunt demarches by senior GOL officials (refs D, E) have underscored TRIPOLI 00000588 004 OF 004 the GOL's concern. Recent actions by the GOL to limit our activities nonetheless go well beyond the pale, particularly since they appear to have specifically targeted U.S. diplomats. We now have five instances of proposed in-country travel by Emboffs (involving five different officers and four different putative destinations) since March that the GOL has effectively blocked. Given that the regime's other recent counter-productive measures on the bilateral front appear to have been authored at the highest levels (refs A, D and F), engagement by senior officials in Washington with their GOL interlocutors will likely be necessary to mitigate the current constraints on Post's ability to conduct in-country travel and engagement with Libyans. End comment. GODFREY 2008-07-21 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI592 THUG LIFE: HANNIBAL AL-QADHAFI'S ARREST PROMPTS FISSURE IN 2008-07-22 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI595 A COMMERCIAL CAUTIONARY TALE: BECHTEL'S BID FOR SIRTE PORT PROJECT FALLS FLAT CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy - Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b) 1. (C) Summary: An unsuccessful year-long bid by U.S. firm Bechtel to build a commercial port in the Libyan city of Sirte has shed light on how decisions about large foreign investment projects in Libya are made. Bechtel's bid went through several evolutions, including signing a memorandum of understanding with the Prime Minister and a resolution by Libya's Cabinet-equivalent to give the company the contract. In the end, the contract evaporated after apparent late-innings intervention by senior regime figures. Despite a year's worth of effort, $1 million worth of expenses, numerous high-level visits, and formal decisions by the GOL to bless the contract, the company's efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, underscoring the fact that Libya's much-trumpeted bidding process is less than transparent, and that the GOL's formal structures do not have the final word on major foreign investment projects. The fact that an operator with Bechtel's savvy and deep pockets was ultimately unable to secure its contract serves as a cautionary tale for the many U.S. and western companies seeking to enter Libya's booming market. End summary. PROMISING BEGINNINGS ... 2. (C) U.S. engineering and consulting giant Bechtel has just declared as dead a year-long attempt to secure a $1 billion cost-plus contract to build a commercial port in the Libyan city of Sirte. Bechtel began its pursuit of the Sirte port contract in July 2007, when senior Bechtel representative Charles Redman (strictly protect), former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, arrived in Tripoli for discussions at the invitation of the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF), a quasi-governmental entity headed by Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi. During the initial visit, QDF representatives encouraged Bechtel to bid on several small infrastructure projects so the company could "prove itself". Redman made it clear that Bechtel wanted, but did not need, business in Libya and had a record that spoke for itself. Eventually, QDF representatives invited Bechtel to execute two projects: a new commercial port facility at Sirte and management of an industrial city adjacent to the Ras Lanuf oil facility. The QDF proposed that Bechtel partner with the Libyan Economic and Social Development Fund (ESDF) to execute the Sirte Port project. 3. (C) This initial burst of positive energy dissipated over the next six months. Bechtel slowly made progress on a contract for the Sirte port project, but its relationship with General People's Committee (GPC) for Transportation, its primary interlocutor on the deal (apart from the QDF), became increasingly difficult. This primarily manifested itself in a lack of responsiveness on facilitation of visas for Bechtel representatives, prompting Bechtel to seek support from other quarters of the Government of Libya (GOL) to facilitate travel by its negotiators and technical staff. In November 2007, then Deputy Foreign Minister Muhammed Siala remarked publicly during a visit to Washington that Bechtel would not secure the Sirte port contract if Secretary Rice failed to visit Libya by year's end. LEAD TO HIGH-PROFILE COMMITMENTS 4. (C) After months of go-slow negotiations, Bechtel experienced an apparent breakthrough in February, when Redman received an urgent call from Minister of Transportation Elmabruk, who asked that the company's team be in Sirte on February 25 to "sign the contract". Although the company was still in the midst of conducting a laborious due diligence review of the contract (key provisions of which had not been finalized), they were convinced to rush a delegation to Sirte in time for a signing event. At that event, Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi and Bechtel signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing the two sides to finalizing the contract as soon as possible. In addition, the General People's Committee (Cabinet-equivalent) issued Decision #158 on March 3, which was effectively an announcement of contract terms that granted permission to the GPC for Transportation to sign a contract with Bechtel. Following these public steps by the GOL, Bechtel reported that the GPC for Transportation appeared to be working in earnest to finalize an English-language version of the contract. RADIO SILENCE BROKEN BY BAD NEWS FROM SAIF AL-ISLAM'S INTERMEDIARY TRIPOLI 00000595 002 OF 002 5. (C) With expectations running high that a final deal was imminent, Bechtel pressed on with negotiations and a fully-vetted contract was presented to the Transportation Minister in early May. From that point on, all communication with the QDF, GPC for Transportation and Libyan Ports Authority (another key player in the deal) went dead. Sensing that something was amiss, Bechtel representatives continued to inquire about that status of the contract, but received no response. On July 14, Abdulhakim el-Ghami, described as "an intermediary for a person very close to Saif al-Islam", called Redman to inform him that the port project had been canceled. (Note: Redman told us el-Ghami, who is based in Munich, appears to be a key conduit for Saif al-Islam's dealings with foreign companies. End note.) Bechtel received no explanation as to why the contract was cancelled, but el-Ghami encouraged the company to "seriously consider" undertaking a different, unspecified infrastructure development project. 6. (C) Comment: Bechtel's experience throws into stark relief the fact that economic and commercial decisions ostensibly finalized by even the most senior levels of the GOL can be overturned by influential elements operating outside the formal government structure. Libyan officials have made much of recent measures designed to ensure transparency and predictability in bids for commercial contracts; however, the reality is that contracts of any size, particularly those involving foreign companies, are subject to intense maneuvering by regime insiders jockeying to ensure that they company they happen to champion wins the prize. Bechtel's story also reinforces post's understanding of Saif al-Islam's key as a principal gatekeeper for large foreign investment projects in Libya, a process he manages through the QDF and the National Engineering Services and Supply Company (NESSCO - further details will be reported septel). The silver lining in this tale of woe is that Bechtel's power division has been awarded a project management job for construction of a new power plant outside Sirte; however, the sorry denouement of the company's efforts to secure the Sirte port contract have dampened its for seeking any new major projects in Libya in the near future and should serve as a cautionary tale for other U.S. companies considering major investment projects here. . GODFREY 2008-07-23 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI597 EUROPEAN OIL COMPANIES EXTEND CONTRACTS IN LIBYA 2008-07-23 2011-02-01 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI614 EXBS AIRPORT TRAINING PROCEEDS DESPITE SECURITY SERVICE 2008-07-30 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08MOSCOW1964 2008-07-09 2011-01-31 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
08MOSCOW2137 2008-07-24 2011-01-31 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
08MOSCOW2153 2008-07-25 2011-01-31 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
08PARAMARIBO301 BOUTERSE UNITES OPPOSITION, TARGETS 2010 ELECTIONS 2008-07-25 2011-01-31 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Paramaribo
08JERUSALEM1169 CODEL KERRY REVIEWS NEGOTIATIONS, SITUATION ON THE GROUND WITH EREKAT, FAYYAD 2008-07-03 2011-01-24 SECRET Consulate Jerusalem
08ALGIERS787 THE HARRAGA: GIVE ME DIGNITY OR GIVE ME DEATH 2008-07-13 2011-01-22 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Algiers
08THEHAGUE625 NETHERLANDS/AFRICA: DUTCH VIEWS ON SUDAN, 2008-07-24 2011-01-17 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
08GUATEMALA867 AMBASSADOR'S FAREWELL CALL ON PRESIDENT COLOM 2008-07-09 2011-01-16 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Guatemala
08REYKJAVIK125 ICELAND RATIFIES PALERMO ANTI-TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS 2008-07-01 2011-01-13 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Reykjavik
08REYKJAVIK127 CLOSING OUT THE ICELAND AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM TRANSFER 2008-07-01 2011-01-13 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Reykjavik
08REYKJAVIK135 ICELAND UNDECIDED ON UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION CONGRESS 2008-07-11 2011-01-13 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Reykjavik
08REYKJAVIK138 ICELAND TO SUPPORT U.S. UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION CONGRESS 2008-07-14 2011-01-13 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
08REYKJAVIK139 SUPPORT REQUEST TO GAIN ALLIES' AND UKRAINIAN SUPPORT FOR 2008-07-16 2011-01-13 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Reykjavik
08STATE78865 COTE D'IVOIRE: JULY 24, 2008 UN SECURITY COUNCIL 2008-07-22 2011-01-13 UNCLASSIFIED Secretary of State
08REYKJAVIK151 ICELAND INFORMED OF NEW U.S. CLUSTER MUNITIONS POLICY 2008-07-23 2011-01-13 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
08REYKJAVIK152 GOI NOTIFIED OF IRANIAN ENTITIES UNDER E.O. 13382 2008-07-23 2011-01-13 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
08STATE81508 UN OPERATION IN COTE D'IVOIRE: MANDATE RENEWAL 2008-07-29 2011-01-13 UNCLASSIFIED Secretary of State
08RIODEJANEIRO205 Petrobras Launches Biofuels Subsidiary 2008-07-30 2011-01-12 UNCLASSIFIED Consulate Rio De Janeiro
08ROME840 ITALY: BERLUSCONI HITS STRONG HEADWINDS 2008-07-03 2010-12-23 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Rome
08MADRID757 TREASURY UNDER SECRETARY LEVEY SCENESETTER 2008-07-10 2010-12-23 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
08MADRID843 SPAIN: INTERNET SURVEY PROJECT 2008-07-29 2010-12-22 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Madrid
08LISBON1808 ALLEGATION OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL SMUGGLING - PORTUGAL 2008-07-25 2010-12-19 SECRET Embassy Lisbon
08BOGOTA2568 ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON'S JULY 7 MEETING WITH 2008-07-15 2010-12-18 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
08QUITO672 AMBASSADOR'S FAREWELL MEETINGS WITH CORREA, OTHER 2008-07-21 2010-12-17 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Quito
08ROME905 ITALY: GOI PROGRESS ON AID TO AFRICA FOR G8 2008-07-23 2010-12-17 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rome
08MADRID794 AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH SECOND VICE PRESIDENT AND 2008-07-18 2010-12-16 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
08BAKU625 AZERBAIJAN FACES CHALLENGE OF PROTECTING CRITICAL 2008-07-02 2010-12-15 SECRET Embassy Baku
08BAKU671 AZERBAIJAN SCENESETTER FOR JULY 14 VISIT OF 2008-07-11 2010-12-15 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baku
08OTTAWA918 COUNSELOR, CSIS DIRECTOR DISCUSS CT THREATS, 2008-07-09 2010-12-14 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Ottawa
<< 1 .. 1 2 .. 2 >>