CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has stressed Egypt’s readiness to support the citizens of Libya.
“In Egypt, we have great respect and appreciation and have not interfered in your affairs and are always prepared to provide support, to help with the stability of the country,” El-Sisi said on Saturday in a televised speech. “We are solely interested in Libyan security and stability. Sirte and Al-Jafra crossed a red line. We are ready to help and aid in the protection of Libya,” he added.
“Libya is a great country and its people are fighters. The line that the current forces have reached, whether from the eastern region or western region, are all Libyan citizens and we are talking to the Libyan people and not one party against another,” El-Sisi said.
The Libyan city of Sirte is 1,000 kilometers (km) from the Egyptian border, and is halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi on the Libyan coast. It is located 450 km from the capital Tripoli and 600 km from Benghazi. It opens the way for controlling oil ports in Libya’s “Oil Crescent” in eastern Libya, which includes the largest oil reserves in the country.
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Sirte is the main operations room for the Libyan National Army (LNA) and a link between the regions of eastern and western Libya. The city’s airport and seaport is one of the most important gateways in Libya.
Al-Jafra also has major significance because it is located in the center of the country which is 650 km southeast of Tripoli. It is the link between the east, west and south. Controlling Al-Jafra’s base means controlling the entire center of the country.
“Our goals will be to protect the western borders, and support the restoration of security and stability in Libya, as it is part of Egyptian national security,” El-Sisi added.
His address was met with widespread Arab support. Saudi Arabia stressed that Egypt’s security was an integral part of the security of the Kingdom and the entire Arab nation, noting that Riyadh stood alongside Cairo in its right to defend its borders and people from extremism.
The UAE also supported the statements made by the Egyptian president and reiterated its position calling for an immediate cease-fire in Libya and a commitment to a political solution, stressing that it was the only acceptable way to end the conflict.
In a statement, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation affirmed its solidarity and support for Egypt to protect its security and stability.
The head of the Diwan of the Supreme Council of Sheikhs and Dignitaries of Libya, Muhammad Al-Misbahi, said that the Libyan people were calling for the joint Arab defense agreement to be enacted, praising the words of El-Sisi.
He pointed out that the Libyan people felt “that Arab dignity has begun to recover from Egypt’s June 30 revolution,” calling for an urgent move by the Egyptian government to resolve the conflict.
He pointed to the military intervention of Turkey in Libya as a key strategic issue, and warned that it could attract mercenaries and escalate the situation in the country if Turkey was permitted to continue its operations.
The council of sheikhs and dignitaries declared that Egypt’s intervention in Libyan affairs was a legitimate intervention according to the Joint Arab Defense Treaty. “Egyptian-Libyan history has proven the significance of joining forces in standing together against the foreign enemy throughout history, either in the Libyan jihad against the Italians, or the strong support Libya provided to Egypt in the 1973 October War,” it said in a statement.
“President El-Sisi raised morale and sent a strong message that Egypt is present,” Khaled Al-Mahjoub, director of the Department of Moral Guidance in the Libyan Army, said.
“The situation with Turkey is about looting of wealth and the deployment of mercenaries, which is what constitutes a threat to the region. Today Turkey has a clear-cut message from El-Sisi,” Al-Mahjoub added.
“The Egyptian state is capable of facing any threats to national security regarding the Libyan crisis,” assistant secretary of the Future Party of the Egyptian Homeland, Essam Hilal, said.
He pointed out that Libya “is living a critical stage in its history in light of (Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s ambitions about Libyan oil, his possession of many terrorist militias in Libya, and his attempt to impose a fait accompli policy on Egypt.”
Hours after the Egyptian president’s speech, Erdogan made a phone call to Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad. The Qatar News Agency stated that the call discussed strategic relations between the two countries and ways to support and develop them, in addition to discussing a number of regional and international issues of common concern.
The mobilization of LNA forces continues in Sirte, and the eastern city of Misrata. The Government of National Accord, led by Fayez Al-Sarraj, rejected the Egyptian invitation to hold an emergency meeting of the Arab League to discuss the latest developments.