El-Sisi Warns of Possible Egyptian Military Intervention into Libya
June 22, 2020 (EIRNS)—The situation in Libya could be coming to a head with a possible military intervention by Egypt. Speaking at an Egyptian military base near the Libyan-Egyptian border, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said on Saturday that Egypt would intervene militarily in Libya if there is a direct threat to Egypt’s security. As an act of self-defense, he said, such an intervention would be legitimate under the UN charter and would be approved of by the Libyan House of Representatives in Tobruk. El-Sisi warned forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which is now being militarily backed by Turkey, not to proceed beyond the current front line with the Libyan Nation Army, which is under the command of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
This is the first time that el-Sisi has publicly spoken of military intervention in Libya as a possible course of action.
“Those who interpreted our patience for weakness are mistaken,” el-Sisi said on June 20. He further said that if Egypt did militarily intervene, it would withdraw its forces from Libya when its objectives were met.
El-Sisi’s statement follows a call he made this month for a ceasefire in Libya as part of an initiative that also proposed an elected leadership council. El-Sisi earlier said Egypt did not want to intervene in Libya, favoring a political solution, but “the situation now is different.” In an obvious reference to Turkey, el-Sisi said, “If some people think that they can cross the Sirte-Jufra frontline, this is a red line for us.” He continued, “If the Libyan people moved through you [tribal leaders in attendance] and asked us to intervene, this would be a signal to the world that Egypt and Libya are one country, one interest.”
El-Sisi said Egypt could provide tribes with training and arms to fight “terrorist militias” loyal to the GNA.
On Monday, June 22, the Libyan Prime Minister of the Tripoli-based GNA, Fayez al-Sarraj, held a closed-door meeting with the U.S. Ambassador in Tripoli Richard Norland and commander of U.S. Africa Command Gen. Stephen Townsend, according to the Turkish daily Yeni Safak. Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga and the military commander of the western region Osama al-Juweili were also present at the meeting. Also on June 21 the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced a no-fly zone around Sirte, said LNA spokesperson Maj. Gen. Ahmed Mismari, who also welcomed el-Sisi’s announcement of being prepared to send in Egyptian forces.
“The area from the As Sultan settlement east of Sirte until the al-Heesa village in the west is being declared a no-fly zone where the flights of any aviation, except for LNA aircraft, are prohibited,” Mismari said in a statement obtained by Sputnik. This is a distance of 200 km.
Turkey, which is calling the shots in Tripoli, said on June 20 that the eastern forces led by Field Marshal Haftar must withdraw from Sirte for a lasting ceasefire to come into force. Also the GNA said it would boycott next week’s meeting of Arab League foreign ministers, at which the Libya issue will be discussed.