File photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Ahram Arabic website)
A military solution in Libya would be Egypt’s last resort to safeguard its security, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Sunday, one day after Egypt asserted that it has a legitimate right to intervene in the neighboring country to secure its borders amid growing tensions in the region.
In an interview with Saudi owned Al-Arabiya TV, Shoukry said that Egypt has been coordinating with international and regional players in Libya, stressing that a military move would be Cairo’s “last option to preserve its security.”
“We refuse Turkey's attempt to expand in Libya,” he said, adding that Ankara’s expansion in Syria, Iraq and Libya is in violation of international legitimacy.
Shoukry’s interview came one day after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the war-torn neighboring country to restore security and stability after receiving "direct threats" from "terrorist militias", stressing that Egypt has long been reluctant to take the move.
El-Sisi said that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces “would be led by the Libyan tribes,” stressing that the Libyan frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security.
Earlier this month, President El-Sisi, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, and the speaker of the Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh announced a peace initiative, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, to end the civil war in Libya through a ceasefire and an elected leadership council.
The Cairo plan comes after the collapse of an offensive launched by Haftar in April 2019 to capture the Libyan capital, further extending the rival Government of National Accord’s (GNA) control over most of northwest Libya.
Egypt, the UAE and Russia are backing Haftar in the east, while Turkey supports the Tripoli-based GNA.
Shoukry said that Egypt is currently discussing the Libya situation with Tunisia and Algeria, and that the three countries have a “shared view” on the matter. The minister added that “it is time for serious action to achieve stability” in the country.
On the disputed dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, Shoukry said that Egypt wishes to see a "convergence of views" between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The minister said that Cairo has presented a draft agreement on the mega dam without providing more details, as the growing tensions with Ethiopia have pushed Egypt to ask the UN Security Council to intervene to resolve the dispute.
“We have resorted to the UNSC after the Ethiopian side refused to [reach] an understanding. They have been persistent in rejecting mediations,” he said, describing the UNSC move as a “sovereign decision.”
Shoukry’s comments come after El-Sisi stressed on Saturday that Egypt is committed to pursuing a diplomatic path to resolve the dispute over the hydropower dam being built near the Ethiopian border with Sudan.
Saturday’s statements were the first by the Egyptian president since Egypt officially lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council after Ethiopia said it would start filling the dam’s reservoir next month regardless of whether a deal is reached.