Egypt Assembly Gives Mandate for Military Intervention in Libya

(Bloomberg) -
egypt libya
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (R) and military commander Khalifa Hifter, the head of the self-styled Libyan National Army, in Cairo, in May 2019. (Egyptian Presidency Media office via AP)

Egypt’s parliament unanimously authorized President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to intervene militarily in Libya if necessary, raising the stakes of the conflict in the North African oil producer.

The assembly’s decision, announced in a statement by the 596-seat parliament, came days after el-Sissi told a group of mainly eastern Libyan tribal heads that Egypt was determined to protect its interests and those of its neighbor. El-Sissi has warned the Turkish-backed internationally recognized government in the capital, Tripoli, against trying to take the central city of Sirte, a gateway to Libya’s oil crescent, from eastern commander Khalifa Haftar.

Egypt, which backs Haftar, has grown increasingly uneasy over Turkey’s support for Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj’s Government of National Accord in Tripoli. Turkish military and logistical support for Sarraj’s administration has allowed it to turn the tide of a war in which Haftar appeared to be prevailing.

El-Sissi has repeatedly said that Egypt’s security interests intertwine with those of neighboring Libya. He had indicated that any military intervention would have to be requested by Libya’s parliament in the east, a condition that’s already been met.

The Libya conflict, which escalated in April 2019 with Haftar’s push to take the capital, has morphed into a proxy war of regional powers. Haftar is also backed by the United Arab Emirates and Russian mercenaries, while Turkey has provided Syrian fighters and other logistical support for Sarraj’s forces.