Egypt’s path toward achieving de-escalation in Libya, ending mercenaries’ presence



Wed, 23 Sep 2020 - 05:25 GMT


Wed, 23 Sep 2020 - 05:25 GMT

FILE – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi - Reuters

FILE – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi - Reuters

CAIRO – 23 September 2020: Egypt has called for a political solution to end the conflict in Libya, maintain ceasefire and curb the role of foreign mercenaries, but has also raised the possibility that the Egyptian army interferes in case a threat is posed to the Egyptian western border.


Egypt’s call for ceasefire comes as hundreds of people have been killed in continuous battles between the conflicting factions in Libya; the Libyan National Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the Parliament in the east and the Government of National Accord led by Fayez Al-Sarraj and its forces in the west.


Meeting with Haftar and Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh on Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi reiterated Egypt’s unchangeable stance calling for a political solution to the Libyan crisis, away from foreign interference and welcoming all positive steps leading to de-escalation, peace, construction and development, the Presidency said in a statement.


Speaking via video at the United Nations’ 75th General Assembly on Tuesday, Sisi said that his country is committed to a political solution for the current crisis in Libya based on the Skhirat agreement, the Berlin conference, and Cairo’s declaration which set a schedule for a consensual government.



The President said that the current conflict in Libya harms the stability of the neighboring countries, adding that his country will protect its National Security if the armed clashes reached Sirte and Jufra cities.



“Egypt is keen to support the Libyans in their battle against the terrorist militias and unlawful regional intervention,” he added.


President Sisi's full UNGA speech

CAIRO - 23 September 2020: Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al Sisi addressed Tuesday several ongoing topics during the speech he gave at the United Nations' 75th General Assembly which is held virtually due to the current Coronavirus pandemic.


Fast progress

Progress has been so fast during the past few months; Sisi in June announced the Cairo Declaration that calls on conflicting parties to announce ceasefire in the war-torn country and end the presence of foreign mercenaries. He said that as he received Libyan National Army chief Khalifa Haftar and Libyan Parliament Speaker Aguila Salih, who together are opposing the Government of National Accord led by Fayez Al Sarraj.


The GNA has not immediately responded to Sisi’s call for ceasefire and mercenaries continued their presence.


Later in the same month, he checked on the forces of the Western Military Zone, announcing that "any direct intervention by Egypt in Libya has become legitimate in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions, and upon the call of the legitimate authority in Libya."



"If Egypt had illegitimate goals in Libya, we would have intervened years ago. We would not accept that history documents that we intervened in time of Libya's weakness…Jufrah and Sirte are a red line…The current line must be maintained. The party who would not respect it, would attain neither the west nor the east. The political process must go forward."


Possible intervention

In July, Meeting with Libyan tribal leaders, Sisi commented on possible Egyptian intervention in Libya, promising that Egypt will intervene "only at the Libyans' request and withdraw upon their order.” Sisi added that Egypt is willing to receive and train youth from tribes to help build a Libyan national army.



The Libyan-Egyptian conference held under the theme “Egypt and Libya one people …one destiny” aimed at activating the free will of the Libyan people for a better future and for serving the coming generations.


Sisi affirmed during the conference that Egypt supports the unified Libyan state, excluding armed and extremist militias. He added that the Sirte-Jufra red line shall not be crossed, describing it as a call for peace by Egypt to activate the political solution in the country.


He affirmed that Egypt hopes Libyan tribes will help resolve the crisis.


Condemning the presence of militias in the war-torn country, Sisi stressed Egypt’s rejection to allow outlawed elements to take Libya as a resort and called on tribal members to get involved in a unified national army and allow only state institutions to possess weapons.


The president affirmed that Egypt rejects foreign interference in the Libyan affairs and seeks political, social, military stability in the western neighbor.


“Egypt’s defense of Libya and vice versa is a commitment that comes as a result of national solidarity between the two countries,” Sisi said, adding that the heroic actions by the Libyan people, on top of which those of leader Omar Al-Mukhtar, and their struggle over the ages to achieve independence prove their rejection of foreign interference.


Sisi also said the main goal of the Egyptian efforts on Libya at all levels is to activate the free will of the Libyan people, for a better future for the country and the next generations, the Presidency said in a statement.


Ankara’s response

Two days after the meeting with tribal leaders, armed militias affiliated with Turkey started to move towards Tawergha town near Sirte, reported Al Arabiya, in a sign of rejection of peaceful solution in Libya and in response to Sisi’s remarks during the meeting.


This sign was endorsed as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Friday that his country will stand by “our Libyan brothers”, apparently referring to people backing the GNA, in their fight against the LNA.


He also denounced Egypt’s support to Haftar and the African country’s stance announced by Sisi as “illegal.”


Responding to Erdogan, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman told Al-Hadath TV channel: “it seems that the Libyan desire for Egypt’s support in countering terrorism and extremism and facing instability in their country has been clearly provocative to some people.”


“We are surprised in fact, that the Turkish administration engages its country in adventures beyond its borders and get involved in disputes that are, perhaps, thousands of kilometers away from its territories,” Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.


“The Turkish adventures here constitute indifference to the friendly Turkish people and a waste of its resources,” he added.


Ceasefire call

In August, rival authorities led by Sarraj and Saleh issued a ceasefire declaration and announced stopping all military operations in all Libyan territories.


Both Libyan leaders called for demilitarize the oil-rich area of Jafa-Sirte. The Libyan government, headed by Sarraj, called for holding Presidential and Parliamentary elections in March, Al-Arabiya reported.


Sisi welcomed the cease-fire initiative, as a way for the departure of all mercenaries in Libya.


“I welcome the statements issued by the Presidential Council and the House of Representatives in Libya to cease fire and stop the military operations in all Libyan territories, as it represents an important step to achieve a political settlement and meet the aspirations of the Libyan people to restore stability and prosperity in Libya and to preserve the capabilities of its people,” President Sisi tweeted.


On the same day, Saleh hailed Sisi’s “brave” stance and efforts that he said aim at achieving stability in Libya.


Earlier in September, Sarraj expressed intention to resign from his post and hand it over to an executive authority by the end of October.



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