Al-Sisi prepares for war: Direct military intervention in Libya has become legitimate

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi considered that the crossing of Sirte and al-Jafra in Libya by the Government of National Accord (GNA) forces is a red line for Egypt’s security, indicating that Egypt’s direct military intervention has become legitimate.”We seek to reach a political solution in Libya, and we will not allow the conflict to cross the Sirte line,” al-Sisi said during a speech on the sidelines of his visit to the western military region, near the Libyan border, in the presence of Egyptian army leaders.

Al-Sisi threatened that Egyptian forces would enter Libya, saying: “everyone who believes or thinks that patience is weakness is mistaken, and those who believe or think that patience is hesitant or weak are mistaken,” indicating that the Egyptian forces will advance along with them and the Libyan tribal elders and will leave as soon as the mission is accomplished. Al-Sisi also sent several messages to the Libyan tribal leaders, claiming that Egypt has no interest but in the security and stability of Libya, saying, “Libya will only defend its people.” He stressed that Egypt is ready to support the people of Libya in the defence and stability of the Libyan state. He directed his speech to them: “Bring your tribal youth and under your supervision we will train them, equip them and arm them under your supervision.” He added: “We only want development, peace and stability for Libyans. Note that the militias exist in any country…” He added: “Egyptians were not invaders or aggressors against the sovereignty of states, and we have no interest but the stability of Libya.”

On the other hand, the spokesman for the Sirte and al-Jafra Operations Room, which is affiliated with the GNA Brigadier General Abdul Hadi Darah, considered al-Sisi’s statement regarding Sirte and al-Jafra as a declaration of war on Libya. Darah called the Libyan foreign ministry to summon the Egyptian ambassador to protest. Al-Sisi condemned the failure to respond to the so-called “Cairo Declaration to resolve the Libyan crisis,” which included the ceasefire decision on June 8. With Haftar’s forces retreating and losing all the administrative borders of Tripoli and most cities and regions in the western region in front of the Libyan army, Egypt recently launched a so-called “Cairo Declaration to resolve the Libyan crisis,” but it was met with categorical rejection from the GNA and other countries. The GNA, more than once, has condemned what it said was military support from Egypt, the UAE, France, and Russia to Khalifa Haftar’s aggression on the capital, Tripoli, which began on April 4, 2019.

In what is considered a tacit Turkish rejection of al-Sisi’s statements, Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Saturday that reaching a permanent ceasefire in Libya requires the withdrawal of Khalifa Haftar’s militia from the strategic city of Sirte. “A ceasefire must be sustainable, which means that the other side (Haftar’s militia) should not be in a position to launch a new attack on the legitimate government at his own will,” said Kalın, whose country is the main supporter of the GNA in Tripoli. “At the current stage [the GNA in Tripoli which] we support, considers that all parties must return to their positions in 2015 when the political Skhirat Agreement was signed (in Morocco), which means that Haftar’s forces must withdraw from Sirte and al-Jafra.”

The forces of the Libyan national accord government took control of the northwest of the country in June with Turkish support, but they are making slow progress towards Sirte, the strategic city in the middle north of Libya. Sirte is the hometown of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, 450 kilometres east of Tripoli, and was a stronghold of the Islamic State before it was captured by the al-Wefaq government in 2016. But it fell in January to Haftar’s forces.