On June 20, 2020, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-SISI said that if pro-GNA forces advanced on the city of Sirte – some 450 kilometers east of the capital Tripoli – it could provoke a “direct” intervention by Cairo.
The Libyan GNA on Sunday dubbed the Egyptian president’s military intervention threat as a “declaration of war”.
“The statements of the Egyptian President which are harassing Libya’s sovereignty and meddling in its internal affairs, and supporting putschists, militias, and mercenaries in Libya are unacceptable,” the GNA’s press office said in a statement.
The GNA called on the international community to “assume its responsibilities with regard to this escalation”. “All impartial mediation… under the aegis of the UN” but rejected “unilateral or extrajudicial initiatives”.
On June 20, 2020, in a televised speech in the Egyptian city of Matrouh near the Libyan border, al-SISI suggested that Cairo could launch “external military missions” into Libya “if required” saying that “any direct intervention in Libya has already become legitimate internationally”.
“Be prepared to carry out any mission here within our borders, or if necessary outside our borders” Al-SISI told his army.
Since 2015, a power struggle has pitted the Tripoli-based GNA against Khalifa HAFTAR, who claims legitimacy from an eastern-based elected parliament.
HAFTAR has been trying unsuccessfully to seize the capital since April 2019, with support from Egypt, Russia, and the UAE
Since the start of June, increased Turkish support has enabled pro-GNA forces to take control of northwest Libya, ending HAFTAR’s assault on Tripoli.
The GNA advance is now halted outside the city of Sirte, a strategic access point to Libya’s key oil fields.
Sirte and Al-Jufra to the south represent a “red line” el-SISI said, citing the need to protect Egypt’s porous border.
“All of Libya is a red line” the GNA responded. “Whatever the dispute between Libyans, we will not allow our people to be insulted or threatened”.
The speaker of Libya’s eastern-based parliament, Aguila SALEH, defended el-SISI’s declaration, saying in a statement that the Egyptian president was “responding to our appeal to the Egyptian parliament” last January in which SALEH called for Egyptian intervention in Libya.
On Sunday, the Jordanian foreign ministry issued a statement saying Amman supports Cairo “against any threat to the security and stability” of Egypt.
Sameh SHOUKRY, Egypt’s Foreign Minister on Sunday told the Saudi-based Al Arabiya TV his country prioritized a political solution to the conflict, adding that the GNA had misinterpreted SISI’s comments.
This article was edited using the data from the Aljazeera.com, Middleeasteye.net, Timesofisrael.com, and Aa.com.tr.