The Egyptian parliament unanimously passed a resolution on July 20, Monday, sanctioning troop deployment outside the country. Monday’s vote will give president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the power to intervene in Libya and act on his threat issued last month.
In an official statement the parliament said that it, “unanimously approved to send elements of the Egyptian Armed Forces in combat missions outside the borders of the Egyptian state” in order to “defend the Egyptian national security in the western strategic direction”, which is threatened by “criminal militias” and “foreign terrorist elements”, without any deadline, official ahram online reported.
President al-Sisi had warned on June 18 that any attack on Sirte, a city in eastern Libya, by the Turkish-backed forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA) will be seen as an attack on Egyptian national interests and will invite its direct intervention. Sirte is under the control of Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA).
GNA forces backed by Turkish militias and arms ended the LNA’s 18-month blockade of capital Tripoli and won back a large part of the territory in April. The GNA now wants to regain control over Sirte, some 450 km east of the capital, considered crucial to reach the oil producing regions of the country currently under Haftar’s control.
Haftar, supported by Egypt, UAE, and some other countries in the wider region, is also backed by the Libyan parliament based in eastern city of Tobruk. Turkish intervention in Libya and the Egyptian reaction to it has created the possibility of the Libyan war turning into a regional conflict.
The GNA and Turkey had called Egypt’s threat a declaration of war and have refused to agree to the ceasefire calls issued by the European Union, the UN and others. Turkey, supporting the GNA, has also refused to adhere to the “Cairo declaration” signed on June 6 by Egypt, Haftar and Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the Libyan parliament, and backed by the EU.
The war in Libya started with the NATO-led invasion of the country in 2011, which has destroyed the economy of the oil rich nation in Northern Africa. Despite a UN arms embargo in place, LNA and GNA forces are fighting against each other for control over the resource rich parts of the country. Both sides are backed by regional and international players with vested interests.