CAIRO: Saudi Arabia and the UAE offered diplomatic support to Egypt on Sunday after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said his country had a legitimate right to intervene in Libya.
Egypt was entitled to defend itself after receiving “direct threats from terrorist militias and mercenaries” supported by foreign countries, El-Sisi said.
Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan has sent mercenaries to Libya to fight on behalf of Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. The GNA is being challenged by eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces led by Khalifa Haftar, and supported by Russia, Egypt and the UAE.
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El-Sisi ordered the Egyptian army to be ready to carry out any mission, and warned the GNA not to cross the current frontline with Haftar's troops. “If some people think that they can cross the Sirte-Jufra frontline, this is a red line for us,” he said. “Any direct intervention from the Egyptian state has now acquired international legitimacy.
“Our goals will be to protect our western borders, and support the restoration of security and stability in Libya, as it is part of Egyptian national security.”
Saudi Arabia said Egypt’s security was an integral part of the security of the Kingdom and the entire Arab nation, and Riyadh stood alongside Cairo in its right to defend its borders and people from extremism.
The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed its solidarity and support for Egypt to protect its security and stability. The UAE also called for an immediate ceasefire in Libya and a commitment to a political solution as“the only acceptable way to end the conflict.”
The city of Sirte, birthplace of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, is 1,000km from the Egyptian border, about halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi on the Libyan coast. It is 450km from the capital, Tripoli, and 600km from Benghazi. It opens the way for controlling ports in the “Oil Crescent” in eastern Libya, which includes the largest oil reserves in the country.
Sirte is also the main operations room for the LNA and a link between the regions of eastern and western Libya. Its airport and seaport are among the most important gateways in Libya.