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Monday, May 20, 2024

Libya cautions Egypt in wake of Sisi comments

The Libyan parliament has condemned comments by Egyptian President Sisi and has cautioned Egypt against any misadventure inside Libya.

Libya’s High Council of State on Monday warned the Egyptian army against a high-stakes military gamble in the conflict-ridden country. Libya has cautioned Egypt over use of military force, after comments from Egypt’s president were construed as hinting upon an Egyptian military campaign in Libya.

The warning came two days after Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi suggested that Cairo could launch “external military missions” into Libya “if required,” urging his army to be ready for a mission “if necessary outside our borders.”

Libya cautions Egypt against ‘gamble’

“We urge the Egyptian army not to be dragged into a gamble, whose fate will be similar to previous gambles like the case in Yemen,” the Libyan council said in a statement as Libya cautions Egypt against any misadventure.

In the 1960s, Egypt sent troops to Yemen to support a revolution against the rule of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom, which evolved into a civil war between those loyal to the kingdom and republican government loyalists.

Read more: France wants NATO to take cognizance of ‘Turkey problem’ in Libya

Though the war ended with a Republican victory, Saudi Arabia exhausted Egypt’s army by supporting the kingdom, which resulted in Egypt losing the 1967 Three-Day War to Israel, say historians

The council blasted al-Sisi’s call for training and arming Libyan tribesmen as “an attempt to fuel sedition and turn Libyans against each other.”

Libyan parliament bristles at Sisi comments; stresses its sovereignty 

“Libya is an independent and sovereign state, and it is the duty of Libya’s legitimate government to extend its control over the entire Libyan territory,” it said.

The council went on to decry the support of Aguila Saleh, speaker of eastern Libya-based parliament, for al-Sisi’s statements about military intervention in Libya.

“The Egyptian intervention in Libya has been ongoing for the past six years in a disruptive manner, seriously aggravating the security, political, economic, and social situation” in Libya, the council said.

Read more: UN orders probe of abuses in Libya conflict

The UN recognizes the Libyan government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority as Tripoli battles the militias of eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The government launched Operation Peace Storm against Haftar in March to counter attacks on the capital, Tripoli, and recently liberated strategic locations, including Tarhuna, Haftar’s final stronghold in western Libya.

It has condemned military support from Egypt, the UAE, France and Russia for Haftar’s attacks on Tripoli, which began in April 2019.

What were the comments aired by Sisi?

Egypt’s president warned earlier that advances by Turkey-backed Libyan forces on the Libyan city of Sirte could prompt an Egyptian military intervention in the neighbouring country in support of Cairo’s ally Khalifa Haftar.

Meanwhile, Ankara has urged forces led by the eastern-based Haftar to withdraw from the strategic city for a ceasefire agreement to be reached.

The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has made major military gains against Haftar’s forces recently thanks to increased support from its backer Turkey.

The key city of Sirte, which lies some 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of the capital, is under the control of Haftar’s forces, who last year launched a recently aborted attempt to seize control of western Libya.

Read more: As proxy war heats up, Libya is in danger of becoming next Syria

In a televised address, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Sirte is a “red line” for Egypt, citing the need to protect its porous border as grounds for “direct intervention” in Libya.

“If the Libyan people asked us to intervene, it is a signal to the world that Egypt and Libya share … common interests, security and stability,” Sisi said on Saturday.

“We strongly reject what was said by al-Sisi and consider it a continuation of the war on the Libyan people, interference in Libyan affairs and a dangerous threat to national security,” said Mohammed Amari Zayed, a member of the GNA’s presidential council.

“There can be no ‘red line’ within our borders. We reject any bid aimed at dividing the Libyan people or their territory… (and) we categorically reject any bid to impose guardianship on Libya,” he added.

Turkey also vowed to continue supporting the GNA’s push for Sirte and demanded the evacuation of Haftar’s forces from the city for a “sustainable ceasefire.”

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk

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