Mark Allen

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Sir Mark Allen is a former MI6 officer.[1]

Education

Allen studied Arabic at Oxford.[2]

Diplomatic Service

Allen was a member of the Diplomatic Service from 1973 to 2004. He served in the UAE, Egypt and Jordan.[3]


Libya Negotiations

Allen was a key figure in negotiations which led to Libya's renunciation of weapons of mass destruction in 2003.[4]

According to Con Coughlin, the deal followed an overture to Downing Street from Col. Gaddaffi's son Saif Gadaffi in the wake of the Iraq War.

There followed a series of lengthy discussions between Seif al-Islam and Mark Allen, then head of counter-terrorism at Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), that were conducted within the elegant confines of London's Travellers Club. The result was Mr. Blair's triumphant announcement in late December 2003 that Col. Ghadhafi had made a "historic" decision to scrap the nuclear-weapons program whose existence he'd always denied.[5]

Coughlin, it should be noted, was the journalist responsible for a 1995 Sunday Telegraph story accusing Saif of fraud, which was exposed as an MI6 smear in a libel action.[6]

A 2003 account in The Times puts the start of negotiations well before the invasion of Iraq:

Col Gaddafi was brought "in from the cold" using a "back-channel" - a secret link with a Libyan government official - set up by the MI6 officer on his own initiative two years ago.
Both the officer and his Libyan contact are likely to have been present at the meeting in the Travellers Club last week, making the Libyan almost certainly Musa Kousa, the head of Libya's equivalent of MI6.[7]

Departure from MI6

According to The Times, Allen left MI6 'in high dudgeon' because of the misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.[8]

The Times reported that Allen was one of three people who applied for post of MI6 chief in succession to Richard Dearlove, and that he found it difficult to accept the May 2004 appointment of John Scarlett with whom his relations were strained because of the latter's role in compiling the government's Iraq dossier.[9]

Nicholas Rufford's report added:

Allen was also said to have been uncomfortable with aspects of strategy on Iraq. “His politics are not new Labour,” a source said.[10]

Allen, then aged 54, had been head of the Middle East and Africa Department at the time of his departure in Summer 2004. he had not been due to retire until July 2005.[11]

Libya and BP

In 2005, Allen accompanied BP chief executive Lord Browne to meet Colonel Gadaffi.[12]

Allen lobbied Jack Straw on 15 November and 9 November 2007, while working as a consultant for BP, who were negotiating an oil deal with Libya.[13]

According to The Times the deal was being held up by Britain's refusal to include Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi in a prisoner transfer agreement:

Although in his telephone conversations with Mr Straw, Sir Mark is said to have avoided explicit reference to al-Megrahi’s fate, a government source acknowledged that this would have been unnecessary because it was “well known that the Libyans were resisting pressure for an exclusion” — and that was holding up the treaty. It is understood that between the two calls, Justice Department officials had concluded that the negotiating position agreed between the British and Scottish governments was unsustainable.[14]

Allen was also involved in 2007 in securing the freedom of Bulgarian nurses inmprisoned by Libya on charges of having injected the HIV virus into children.[15]

Allen's role in negotiating for BP was the subject of some criticism. Liz Stephens of politics.co.uk wrote:

As today's article on BP's lobbying of Jack Straw over Libya shows – the telephone line is always clear for big business to lobby government direct. Of course, it helps if you used to occupy a fairly senior position in government yourself – even more so if you happened to be fundamental in the negotiation of a major non-proliferation treaty with an oil rich country like Libya as is the case with Sir Mark Allen.[16]

'Risk, Threat and Security'

Allen was a member of a private seminar series which met between May 2006 and January 2008 and produced an article in the RUSI Journal called 'Risk, Threat and Security: The Case of the United Kingdom'. The article expressed concerns that the 'politicisation' of defence policy and a national 'lack of confidence' made the UK vulnerable to security threats. It suggested therefore the partial removal of defence policy from democratic control.

In assessing the supposed security threats to the UK, the article expressed a concern that the country was ‘soft’ and lacked a cohesive identity which made it vulnerable to enemies. It complained of a ‘lack of leadership from the majority which in misplaced deference to ‘multiculturalism’ [has] failed to lay down the line to immigrant communities’. [17]

Engagements

In March 2008, Allen attended the opening of BP's Muscat office, a year after the firm won the right to develop the Khazzan/Makarem gas fields in central Oman.[18]

Allen spoke at the Dubai Policy Watch Forum in November 2008.[19]

Affiliations

Publications

Books

  • Arabs: A New Perspective, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006.
  • With Hossein Amirsadeghi, Sky Hunters: The Passion of Falconry, Thames & Hudson, 24 November 2008.
  • Tribes: Tribalism in the Arab World, Continuum International Publishing Group, due October 2009.

Articles

External Resources

Notes

  1. Patrick Wintour, Libya oil deals were factor in Megrahi talks, says Straw, guardian.co.uk, 5 September 2009.
  2. "Sir+Mark+Allen"&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk Sir Mark Allen, Monitor Talent, via google cache from 29 August 2009, accessed 5 September 2009.
  3. "Sir+Mark+Allen"&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk Sir Mark Allen, Monitor Talent, via google cache from 29 August 2009, accessed 5 September 2009.
  4. Patrick Wintour, Libya oil deals were factor in Megrahi talks, says Straw, guardian.co.uk, 5 September 2009.
  5. Con Coughlin, Britain and the Lockerbie Bomber, Wall Street Journal, 27 August 2009.
  6. Mark Hollingsworth and Nick Fielding, Defending the Realm: Inside MI5 and the War on Terrorism, Andre Deutsch, 2003, pp.190-193.
  7. Michael Smith, Blair may take credit, but it was all down to an MI6 spy in a Bedouin tent, The Times, 22 December 2003.
  8. Tom Baldwin, Sir Mark Allen has spent years negotiating deals with Libya, The Times, 4 September 2009.
  9. Nicholas Rufford, Rift at heart of MI6 as its Iraq spy controller quits, 26 September 2004.
  10. Nicholas Rufford, Rift at heart of MI6 as its Iraq spy controller quits, 26 September 2004.
  11. Nicholas Rufford, Rift at heart of MI6 as its Iraq spy controller quits, 26 September 2004.
  12. Patrick Wintour, Libya oil deals were factor in Megrahi talks, says Straw, guardian.co.uk, 5 September 2009.
  13. Patrick Wintour, Libya oil deals were factor in Megrahi talks, says Straw, guardian.co.uk, 5 September 2009.
  14. Tom Baldwin and Philip Webster, BP lobbied Jack Straw before he changed mind over Lockerbie bomber, The Times, 4 September 2009.
  15. Tom Baldwin, Sir Mark Allen has spent years negotiating deals with Libya, The Times, 4 September 2009.
  16. Liz Stephens, Comment: Shut that door, politics.co.uk, 4 September 2009.
  17. Gwyn Prins & Robert Salisbury, 'Risk, Threat and Security: The Case of the United Kingdom (PDF)', RUSI Journal, Feb 2008, Vol. 153, No. 1
  18. BP Oman inaugurates Muscat office, AMEInfo, 2 March 2008.
  19. Dubai Policy Watch hosts BP Special Advisor Sir Mark Allen, Eye of Dubai, 11 November 2008.