Libyan government condemns meeting between Sisi and ‘tribal leaders’
The internationally-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has strongly condemned renewed threats by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to intervene militarily in Libya on the side of rogue General Khalifa Haftar.
At a meeting with self-proclaimed Libyan tribal leaders in Cairo on Thursday, Sisi said that Egypt “would not stand idle” in the face of what he called a threat to the national security of Egypt and other Arab countries from Libya.
Khalid Al-Mishri, the head of Libya’s High Council of State – an advisory body to the GNA – called the tribal leaders who met with Sisi “a group of agents” in a tweet, adding that Egypt’s reliance on them showed “the depths of failure of Egyptian policy” in Libya.
Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha said that the GNA had “strong reservations” about the “falsehoods in the meeting” between Sisi and “those claiming that they represented Libyan tribes”.
The tribal leaders, who came from eastern Libya, which is controlled by forces loyal to Haftar, said at the meeting with Sisi on Thursday that they “fully authorise the president [Sisi] and the Egyptian armed forces to intervene to protect Libyan sovereignty.”
Bashagha said in response that the GNA “would not accept any violation of Libyan sovereignty” and that Egypt “had to understand that its interests lie with the legitimate government [of Libya].”
Ammari Ziad, a member of the GNA’s presidential council, said that the GNA would take legal action against the tribal leaders who met with Sisi.
The Libyan GNA was formed in 2016 with backing from the United Nations. However, its authority is challenged by General Khalifa Haftar and a rival administration based in Tobruk in eastern Libya.
In April 2019, Haftar launched an assault on the Libyan capital Tripoli, but his forces have been driven back in recent months by a GNA counteroffensive. Haftar has received backing from Egypt, the UAE, and Russia, while the GNA has received critical support from Turkey.
Sisi has threatened to intervene before in Libya, saying last month that the strategic city of Sirte, which is on the front line between the GNA and Haftar’s forces, was a “red line” for Egypt.