Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said his country can make a decisive military move in neighbouring Libya should its security come under threat.
Egypt will not stand idle in the face of threats to its security or the security of Libya, Sisi said at a televised meeting with lawmakers allied to Libyan opposition leader General Khalifa Haftar in Cairo on Thursday, according to Reuters.
“Egypt is able to change the military situation quickly and decisively if it wants,” Sisi said. He urged an end to fighting between Haftar’s forces and those of the United Nations-recognised government in Tripoli, which is backed militarily by Turkey.
Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are supporting Haftar and his army with weapons, finance and military know-how against the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). The GNA, similarly backed by Turkey, has repelled an attack by Haftar on Tripoli and has since advanced into the south and east of the country.
Sisi said Egypt stood by its right to move forces into the country should militants loyal to the Tripoli government advance on the Mediterranean city of Sirte or the Al-Jufra airbase near the country’s so-called oil crescent. His army and navy held military exercises last week near Libya prior to a possible intervention.
“We will not stand idle in the face of any moves that pose a direct threat to our national strategic security on our western borders, especially in light of the increasing military build-up operations in the vicinity of the city of Sirte,” he said, according to Reuters.
The tribal leaders who flew in from Haftar’s stronghold in Benghazi told Sisi that they had authorised him and Egypt’s army to intervene to counter what they described as the “Turkish invasion and terrorism".
The meeting was broadcast live on state television.
Sisi said that the “red lines” his country had announced “were basically a call for peace and to put an end to the conflict in Libya".