Revealed: Erdogan’s $2.7bn Libya cash grab

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AP)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Revealed: Erdogan’s $2.7bn Libya cash grab

  • Turkey demands compensation for debts owed since 2011 collapse

JEDDAH: Recep Tayyip Erdogan has struck a deal with the UN-backed Libyan government for Tripoli to pay $2.7bn in compensation for debts owed to Turkey before Libya’s nine-year civil war began.
Turkish companies were heavily involved in lucrative infrastructure and construction projects in Libya from the 1970s, but they collapsed when dictator Muammar Qaddafi was removed in 2011 and the country descended into chaos.
Now, as peace talks in Moscow edge toward an agreement between warring factions in Libya, the Turkish president is maneuvering to restore business links between the two countries. In addition to compensation for Turkey’s losses, the new deal paves the way for new contracts in the energy, housing and construction sectors.
The agreement is expected to be signed in February. The exact amounts have still to be negotiated, but they are thought to include a $1bn letter of guarantee, $500m in compensation for looted or damaged machinery and other equipment, and unpaid debts of $1.2bn.
Karol Wasilewski, a Turkey analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, in Warsaw, said Turkey would welcome the cash, but the restoration of business ties was of more long-term benefit to Ankara.

BACKGROUND

The new deal paves the way for new contracts in the energy, housing and construction sectors.

“That compensation money for the construction sector is just a side effect, even if a very beneficial and a needful one for the Justice and Development Party and the businessmen connected to the party,” he told Arab News.
Turkish companies Ustay Yapi, Tekfen, Enka, Renaissance and Guris Insaat have mostly dominated the Libyan construction and infrastructure sectors.
Meanwhile, Libyan peace talks in Moscow hit an obstacle when Khalifa Haftar, whose eastern Libyan National Army forces are besieging Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, asked for more time to study a cease-fire document.
Haftar and his ally Aguila Saleh “view the document positively,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, but they “have asked for a bit more time until morning to make a decision on its signing.”
The document spells out the terms of a truce that took effect at the weekend. GNA leader Al-Sarraj and Khaled Al-Mechri, head of the High Council of State in Tripoli, signed the deal on Sunday.


Australia: British-Australian woman in Iran prison ‘is well’

Updated 19 min 52 sec ago

Australia: British-Australian woman in Iran prison ‘is well’

  • Australia sought urgent consular access and its ambassador to Iran, Lyndall Sachs, visited Moore-Gilbert in Qarchak Prison on Sunday
  • Moore-Gilbert’s family said they were reassured by the ambassador’s prison visit

CANBERRA, Australia: An Australian ambassador has visited a British-Australian academic convicted of espionage before being moved recently to a notorious Iranian prison and found that she “is well,” Australia’s government said Tuesday.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was sent to Tehran’s Evin Prison in September 2018 and sentenced to 10 years.
Concerns for her well-being escalated with news last week that she had been moved to Qarchak Prison, east of Tehran.
Australia sought urgent consular access and its ambassador to Iran, Lyndall Sachs, visited Moore-Gilbert in Qarchak Prison on Sunday, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or DFAT, said in a statement.
“Dr. Moore-Gilbert is well and has access to food, medical facilities and books,” the statement said. “We will continue to seek regular consular access to Dr. Moore-Gilbert.”
Moore-Gilbert’s family said they were reassured by the ambassador’s prison visit.
“We remain committed to getting our Kylie home as soon as possible and this is our top and only priority,” a family statement said.
“We continue to believe that Kylie’s best chance at release is through diplomatic avenues and are in close contact with DFAT and the Australian government on the best ways to achieve this,” the statement added.
In 2018, Moore-Gilbert was arrested at Tehran airport while trying to leave Iran after attending an academic conference.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran, a US-based organization, said last week that Moore-Gilbert was being held with violent criminals under harsh conditions.
Reza Khandan, husband of human rights lawyer and Evin Prison inmate Nasrin Sotoudeh, posted on social media last week that Moore-Gilbert had been transferred “as a form of punishment.”
Australia describes Moore-Gilbert’s case as one of its highest priorities.
Moore-Gilbert has gone on hunger strikes during her time in custody and pleaded for the Australian government to do more to free her during almost two years in custody.
She wrote to Australia’s prime minister last year that she has been “subjected to grievous violations of my legal and human rights, including psychological torture and spending prolonged periods of time in solitary confinement.”