A buffer zone in Libya: Will Egypt repeat Turkey’s strategy in Syria?

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Political and military experts ruled out that the Egyptian regime would engage in a wide-scale military confrontation in Libya that might spark an open regional war, especially after Washington refused any escalation in Libya. They indicated instead that Egypt might impose a buffer zone with limited military intervention.

Hafed al-Ghwell of the Foreign Policy Institute said that Egyptian military intervention into Libya is unlikely to benefit General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is also dealing with an ISIS threat, the Egyptian-Ethiopian dam dispute, and the deteriorating economic situation caused by the coronavirus. “Egypt is unlikely to go as far as engaging in a direct confrontation in Libya, especially because such a move could explode a direct regional war with Turkey.” However, a more probable scenario is for Cairo to establish an Egypt-friendly buffer area in eastern Libyan. “There is a possibility that the military would seek to establish a buffer zone similar to the one Turkey did in Syria,” al-Ghwell said. He added that “The ramifications of the Egyptians moving troops like that regardless of the reasons can backfire. There will be some dissent by the military.”

Egyptian regime supporters say that by sending forces to Libya, al-Sisi hopes to secure Egypt’s western border from militant infiltration and prevent a resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood. They say Cairo sees the recent victories of Libya’s GNA, which includes Muslim Brotherhood allies such as the Justice and Construction Party, as a threat.