Egypt has seen intensive diplomatic and parliamentary discussions this week on developments in Libya.
Aquila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based and internationally recognised Libyan parliament, addressed Egypt’s House of Representatives on Sunday, suggesting that Libyan MPs may ask Egypt to intervene militarily should they face foreign interference in Libya’s domestic affairs.
“Let Egypt’s MPs take a courageous stance towards Libya. We may ask Egypt’s Armed Forces to intervene to help us stand against any foreign interference in our country. Please support the Libyan people who know that in the past Egypt has never let them down since the days of the Italian invasion,” said Saleh.
He added that it is of little use to issue condemnatory statements or voice concern and worry. What Libyans need most is for Egypt to take a firm and support Libyans in defending their land.
In response, MPs said President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi had parliamentary backing to take all necessary measures to protect Egypt’s national security, including intervening in Libya.
Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said Egyptian and Libyan national security was closely related and Cairo would spare no effort in supporting the Libyan people, rebuilding the Libyan state, helping create a strong Libyan army and to draft a new constitution for Libya.
Saleh, who sat beside Abdel-Aal on the main podium, was in Cairo to attend the Arab parliament’s extraordinary meeting on Wednesday to discuss developments in Libya and Iraq.
Saleh described Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a fascist dictatorship that is desperately trying to destabilise Libya. “Please let me alert your attention to the madness of the new Ottoman regime in Turkey, which has never shown mercy towards the Arabs, the Kurds or the Balkan peoples,” he said.
He added that the Turkish regime is currently launching proxy wars that use terrorist organisations, armed militias and gangs, murderers and killers to undermine national states, disrupt Arab societies, obliterate Arab armies, and humiliate people across the Middle East.
Saleh accused the Turkish regime of using the Presidential Council in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, to plunder the wealth of the Libyan people.
“Erdogan plundered the north of Syria and then moved to push Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of Tripoli’s Presidential Council, to sign two memoranda amid that violate the sovereignty, rights, and dignity of Libya.”
“Erdogan claims that Libya is an Ottoman state and he wants Ottoman colonialism to be back in Libya to restore the shameful past of Ottomans there,” said Saleh.
According to Saleh, the Government of National Accord in Tripoli has opened the door wide for terrorist militias to control the country.
“The memoranda reached with Turkey were not approved by the Libyan parliament and so should be considered null and void. They represent a form of treason that we all condemn.
“The Tripoli government, which controls just one square kilometre of Libya, has opted to be part of a conspiracy which is being cooked up in Ankara to bring back the dark and bloody days of the Ottomans.”
Abdel-Aal said, “It is a great pleasure and honour for us Egyptian MPs that my brother Aquila Saleh, speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, attend this joint plenary session to address us on developments in Libya and let me confirm that we declare our full support for Libya against foreign intervention and against terrorist organisations and militias that threaten the national security of Libya and Egypt.
“As everyone is aware, Egypt and Libya have many mutual interests. As a result we are keen to coordinate with Libyan officials at all levels. This is a matter of supreme importance to our nation’s national security.”
Abdel-Aal continued, “Let me also seize this opportunity to send some messages. First, Egypt is keen that Libyans reach a political solution that can pave the way for stability, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. In this context, we reject all forms of foreign interference in Libya’s internal affairs, especially interference from foreign forces which have no geographical or linguistic ties with Libya. All they seek is to plunder the wealth and riches of the Libyan people.”
Second, Abdel-Aal said the two memoranda of understanding signed between Turkey and Al-Sarraj in November 2019 violate international law, UN Security Council resolutions, and the Skhirat Agreement. “These memoranda undermine regional stability and for this reason we support the decision of the Libyan House of Representatives to reject them,” Abdel-Aal said.
According to Abdel-Aal, the International Berlin Conference scheduled in Germany this month represents an important opportunity for all parties in Libya to reach a political solution and restore stability to their country.
“Meanwhile, Egypt will keep giving support to Libyans to restore their national state and institutions in the face of extremist thoughts and armed terrorist militias and groups which are supported by countries seeking to sow instability in the region.
“In this respect, let me confirm that we support the Libyan National Army and its legitimate leadership in fighting terrorist groups and foreign intervention.”
Several Egyptian MPs took the floor to praise Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army, and the Libyan House of Representatives which rejected the agreements with Turkey.
Ahmed Raslan, head of parliament’s Arab Affairs Committee, accused “the terrorist group of the Muslim Brotherhood of hijacking Libya for its own ideological interests and that Turkey’s Erdogan uses this group to promote Turkish hegemony in Arab and Muslim countries.”
Diaaeddin Dawoud, a leftist opposition MP, said “all Egyptian political forces support their army in protecting Egypt’s national security against powers which insist on sowing instability in the Middle East.
“In times of crisis, all political forces should rise above their differences and take a united stand supporting the Egyptian Armed Forces.”
MP Mustafa Bakri said the Egyptian army’s recent military exercises and manoeuvres on Egypt’s western borders should send a message to all parties that Egypt is ready to defend its national security.
Bakri asked that the ambassador of the Government of National Accord in Tripoli be expelled from Cairo and that the Egyptian parliament condemn Turkey’s massacres of Armenians.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 16 January, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.