The eastern-based Libyan parliament, which supports the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar, has given the Egyptian military permission to intervene in the civil war.
“We call for joint efforts between the two brotherly nations – Libya and Egypt – in order to defeat the occupier and maintain our common security and stability in our country and region,” a statement issued by the House of Representatives said yesterday.
It added that the parliament “welcomes the words of the Egyptian President, spoken in the presence of representatives of Libyan tribes.”
Last month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said he could send troops into Libya, warning the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces not to cross the current front line in the coastal city of Sirte. In response, the GNA said it considered Al-Sisi’s comments a “declaration of war“. Al-Sisi on Saturday said that Egypt has the right based on the UN Charter, to militarily intervene in Libya. The Egyptian army has already carried out military drills near the Libyan border called “Hasm 2020”.
READ: The unlikely war between Egypt and Turkey in Libya
Sirte is considered a strategic gateway to Libya’s main oil export terminals. Reuters reports that oil has become the biggest asset which is being fought over, with the LNA having imposed a blockade on production and exports since January. However, under international agreements, only the National Oil Corp, based in the GNA-held capital Tripoli has exclusive rights to produce and export oil.
The authorisation of Egyptian military presence in Libya comes amid Turkey’s own intervention at the beginning of the year in support of the GNA which was under siege by Haftar’s forces, which are backed by the UAE, France Egypt and Russian mercenaries. With Turkey’s support, GNA forces reversed Haftar’s gains and ended the year-long siege on the capital Tripoli.
According to the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FRI), Egypt’s main challenges are reaching and operating military forces along the Jufra-Sirte red line, which also poses the risk of escalation with Turkey. As such Cairo is more likely to seek a symbolic intervention where its military forces would be used to force Libya’s warring parties into negotiations under Egyptian supervision, rather than engage in direct combat. Turkey’s use of armed drones may also tactically limit Egypt’s forces.
READ: After Libya, will Turkey defeat the UAE in Yemen?