Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged the United States and Europe on Thursday to urgently assist the Libyan army in its fight against Islamist militants.
“When we deal with terrorism only in Iraq and Syria, Libya will begin to be an attractive region for terrorists affecting the stability of… Libya and its neighbors. We will need the same measures happening in Iraq and Syria to be taken in Libya,” Sisi said in an interview with France 24.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria and is now facing US-led airstrikes that have so far failed to stop the advance of its militants.
“The international community – Europe and the Americans – must help the Libyan national army regain its position and combat terrorism in Libya to restore security and stability,” Sisi added.
Since the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, the authorities in the North African nation have failed to exert control over all of the country’s components.
The country is grappling with a sharply deteriorating security as it is effectively controlled by former rebels who, alongside other NATO-backed groups, helped in the toppling of dictator Muammar Gaddafi but are now using their guns to fight for power.
The UN and major powers recognize the House of Representatives and Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani’s government. But Libya’s Supreme Court, still based in Tripoli, declared in early November the House of Representatives unconstitutional.
Now two governments vie for legitimacy, one in Tripoli linked to Islamist militias, and an internationally-recognized government in the eastern city of Tobruk.
Moreover, Sisi affirmed on Thursday that Egypt was supporting the Libyan army but said it had refrained from direct intervention within the country.
“If we intervened directly, I would not hesitate to announce that. But all we have done so far is to help the Libyan national army, the Libyan parliament, and the Libyan government.”
Egypt claims militants cross the border to help Egyptian jihadist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, who swore allegiance earlier this month to ISIS, attack Egypt’s security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
In early October, Thani announced that Libya and Egypt were coordinating on border security and training army and police.
As a result, Egypt has been training anti-Islamist Libyan forces on its soil and sharing intelligence in a bid to stamp out militancy next door.
Security officials say Libyan pilots in Egyptian warplanes bombed militant targets in Libya earlier this year, but officials in Cairo said non-intervention is the guiding policy.
“There are no Egyptian armed forces in Libya,” Sisi said. “We protect our borders from inside our borders.”
Source: Al-Akhbar English