Egypt’s warning that it could intervene directly in neighbouring Libya will not deter Turkey supporting its Libyan allies, a senior Turkish official said yesterday, amid tensions between regional rivals Cairo and Ankara.
Turkey backs Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), which has reversed a 14-month assault on the Libyan capital Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). Ankara’s entry into Libya’s conflict has stoked tensions with Haftar’s backers, as well as France.
On Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in Libya and ordered his army to be ready for any mission outside the country, if necessary.
“Sisi’s statements have no basis,” the Turkish official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “Turkey and Libya will not turn back from their determination.” The GNA with Turkish support is continuing preparations to recapture the strategic coastal city of Sirte, seized by Haftar’s forces in January, and the Jufra region further south, the official added.
Yasin Aktay, a deputy chairman of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, said direct intervention by Egypt would not be supported by Algeria, another of Libya’s neighbours, and would set Egypt against Nato member Turkey. “Sisi does not have the power or guts to attempt this,” he said. Earlier this month, Egypt called for a ceasefire in Libya as part of a new initiative.
Turkey dismissed it as an attempt to save Haftar following his battlefield losses.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned of potential further escalation in the Libya conflict during a visit to Rome yesterday, as he discussed with his Italian counterpart efforts to mitigate the crisis in the North African country, DPA reported.
“After the Egyptian president announced that military responses on the part of Egypt can no longer be ruled out, there is the threat of a further escalation in this conflict,” Maas said alongside Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. The oil-wealthy country has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt toppled long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
It has become a battleground for rival proxy forces. In January, Germany hosted an international conference, in which a number of countries agreed to uphold a weapons embargo aimed at stemming the violence in Libya.
This, however, has been repeatedly violated.
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