Egypt is ready to defend Libya and will not let its people down: Deputy parliament speaker

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 14 Jul 2020

The Egyptian deputy speaker described the Libyan parliament motion authorising Egypt to defend Libyans against Turkish aggression as ‘historic’

Soliman Wahdan
Egypt's deputy parliament speaker Soliman Wahdan (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's deputy parliament speaker said in a statement on Tuesday that Egyptian MPs value the Libyan parliament's decision to authorise Cairo to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard "the national security" of both countries in the face of what it termed a Turkish "occupation."

"This is a historic decision aimed at allowing the Egyptian armed forces to stand up to Turkish aggression, and we MPs pledge that the Egyptian leadership and people are ready to defend Libya and will never let their Libyan brothers down," said Soliman Wahdan, who is also chairman of the Wafd party.

Wahdan argued that the objective of the Libyan motion is to preserve the national security of both countries and to safeguard Libyan wealth from exploitation by terrorist groups sent by Turkey to plunder Libya.

"I would also like to raise attention to the important role of the Libyan tribes in supporting their national army and standing up to any foreign aggression," said Wahdan, arguing that "the freely elected and internationally recognised Libyan parliament's decision provides a legitimate reason for Egypt to help the Libyan people."

Wahdan also noted that Egypt's President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi warned on 20 June that Egypt would not let the terrorist Turkey-supported militias, recruited from Syria, to cross a red line by attacking the cities of Sirte and Jufra. "President El-Sisi affirmed that there will be a strong and decisive response from Egypt in such a scenario," said Wahdan.

"In the name of all Egyptian MPs, we support the Egyptian armed forces taking all the measures necessary to preserve the national security of Egypt and neighbouring Libya from any aggression," he added.

Egypt last week concluded the main stage of the “Hasm 2020" military drills. Land, maritime and air defence forces took part in the strategic manoeuvres in cooperation with the formations and units of the Western military region. The exercises aim at eradicating mercenaries, their gathering points, command centres and logistics.

The Libyan parliament, led by speaker Aguila Saleh, backs military commander Khalifa Haftar, who fought a year-long and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to seize the capital Tripoli from the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar is supported by Egypt and the UAE, while the GNA in Tripoli has the backing of their regional rivals Turkey and Qatar.

In a resolution passed late Monday, the Tobruk-based parliament authorised the Egyptian armed forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt, if they see an imminent danger to both our countries."

It also said that "Libya and Egypt should work together to guarantee the occupier's defeat and preserve our shared national security in the face of the dangers posed by the Turkish occupation."

El-Sisi warned last month that Egypt could send troops into Libya, after the unity government pushed back Haftar's forces from around Tripoli following months of stalemate.

El-Sisi said that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces "would be led by the Libyan tribes," and stressed that "we only aspire for stability in Libya."

He said that Egypt has no ambitions in Libya, and only wishes to restore security and stability in the country. "We will not be invaders … we only want a stable, safe and developed Libya," he said.

Libya has seen years of violence since the ouster of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed 2011 uprising, with the GNA and the parliament in the east, elected in 2014, vying for power.

Haftar launched an offensive in April 2019 to seize the capital, but the GNA took advantage of Turkish military support to re-impose its control over Libya's northwest.  

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