Egypt Warns Turkey Any More Advances Toward Eastern Libya Oil Fields Will Trigger Direct Intervention
Turkish intervention has turned the tide, secured the western Libyan oil fields for the Tripoli government
The President of Egypt announced that Egypt has legitimate grounds to order the Egyptian army into Libya to fight mercenaries and terrorists.
Egypt demands the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya, as well as the destruction of terrorist groups. If this does not happen, Egypt is ready to ensure its national security by force, and to use its armed forces on the side of the LNA. Egypt will not allow the loss of Sirte by LNA.
At present, the Egyptian army is on high alert. Security measures on the border with Libya have been strengthened, forces and equipment have been transferred to the Libyan border and the army’s air bases and field camps closest to Libya.
In the event of hostilities, Egypt will be able to quickly enter into Libya with up to 3 mechanized and tank brigades with the support of several dozen aircraft and helicopters. By the standards of the Libyan war, more than serious forces.
The Council of Libyan tribes, who remain faithful to Haftar, has said today they welcomed the possible entry of the Egyptian army into Libya. Accordingly, Egypt had insured itself in advance – when troops are brought in, they will most likely refer to an official request from the Libyan parliament or the tribal council in order to have some kind of legal cover for the presence that Erdogan already has thanks to his agreement with the Libyan GNA. [Who are anyway his clients and wholly dependent on him.]
In fact, this is a direct threat to Erdogan – if he continues to attempt to capture Sirte and cross the Sirte Al-Jufra line in order to advance to the oil fields and terminals in Eastern Libya, Egypt will respond by force, which creates the risk of a direct clash between the Turkish and Egyptian military.
Accordingly, the beginning of a larger attack on Sirte will lead to Egypt’s direct entry into the Libyan War. Of course, the Turks may have the idea that Al-Sisi is bluffing and that he will not risk a direct conflict, but everything shows that Egypt is more than determined, because inaction and ignoring Turkey’s gain in Libya is fraught with big problems already in the medium term. Egypt, in turn, hopes that Erdogan will be afraid of such a scenario and give way, and agree to the line of separation of spheres of influence along the current front line:
What is the importance of Sirte and Al-Jufra? This is the main line of defense covering the main oil fields and terminals. If they are lost, the LNA will essentially have nowhere to make a stand, at least until El Sidra, El Bregui and Ras Lanuf. The capture of AL-Dzhufra opens for the GNA and Turkey a direct road to the oil fields of Eastern Libya.
Turkey continues to insist that peace negotiations will be possible if the LNA surrenders to the Libyan GNA to Sirte and Al-Jufra airbase (a requirement that Turkey periodically voices), while Turkey refuses to negotiate with Haftar, hinting that it does not want to see a partner in the negotiations Haftara, and the head of the Libyan parliament in Tobruk Saleh.
This position is also relayed by the Libyan GNA, which states that the capture of Sirte and Al-Jufra is not subject to discussion, and that GNA is not afraid of Egyptian threats and, in general, that the GNA will “liberate” all Libyan lands.
The course of the GNA-Turkish offensive since May 2020.
Plus photos and videos of Sisi’s trip to the border with Libya, where he inspected the troops of the Western Military District.
Source: Colonel Cassad
Egypt’s el-Sisi orders army to be ready for missions abroad
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ordered his army to be ready to carry out missions inside or outside the country to protect its national security amid tensions over Turkey’s intervention in neighbouring Libya.
He also warned forces loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli not to cross the current front line between them and renegade commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).The GNA, with Turkish support, has reversed a 14-month assault on the capital by the LNA.
The LNA is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
El-Sisi on Saturday toured an airbase near Egypt’s 1,200km-long (746-mile) western border with Libya, where state television showed him watching fighter jets and helicopters taking off.
“Be prepared to carry out any mission, here inside our borders – or if necessary, outside our borders,” he told air force pilots and special forces personnel at the base.
He said the Egyptian army was “one of the strongest in the region”, adding: “It is a rational army; an army that protects and does not threaten … this is our strategy, our beliefs and our principles that we will never change.”
He also said Egypt did not want to intervene in Libya and generally favoured a political solution, but added that “the situation now is different”.
“If some people think that they can cross the Sirte-Jufra front line, this is a red line for us,” he said before an audience that included some Libyan tribal leaders.
“If the Libyan people moved through you and asked us to intervene, this would be a signal to the world that Egypt and Libya are one country, one interest,” he added.
Turkey urges Haftar withdrawal
Meanwhile, Turkey said on Saturday that Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya needed to withdraw from the strategic city of Sirte for a lasting ceasefire.
Ibrahim Kalin, the presidential spokesman, told AFP news agency that Haftar’s forces should leave Sirte and Jufra in order to have a “sustainable ceasefire”.
Kalin said a ceasefire in Libya would be possible if all parties returned to their 2015 positions, referring to an agreement reached that year.
He warned against a rushed truce, saying: “A rushed, premature ceasefire will not lead to what we want to achieve for all Libyans there.”
Earlier this month, Egypt called for a ceasefire in Libya as part of an initiative which also proposed an elected leadership council for the country.
The United States, Russia and the UAE welcomed the plan. Germany said United Nations-backed talks were key to the peace process.
However, Turkey dismissed the proposal as an attempt to save Haftar following a string of losses on the battlefield.
Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed 2011 uprising toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, with rival governments fighting for control of the country’s oil wealth.
Source: Al Jazeera
Could Egypt and Turkey be headed for war in Libya?
Turkey has increased its military intervention in Libya in recent months, sending ships off the coast, planes to bring weapons, mercenaries and armed drones to the country.
This is ostensibly to support the government in Tripoli which is fighting a civil war against forces in eastern Libya. But it is actually part of Turkey’s desire for a greater role in energy exploration in the Mediterranean and aimed at weakening Egyptian-backed opposition forces. In response Egypt’s president hinted during a tour of a massive military base on Saturday, that Egypt might intervene.
Libya’s conflict is complex, but at its most basic it is a proxy war. It also has ramifications for the whole region, a hinge on which the power of Turkey, Egypt, the UAE, Russia and Qatar all turn.
Iran, Greece, Italy and France are all keenly watching. Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and perhaps France and even Greece, back Haftar. Turkey and Qatar back Tripoli. They have sent thousands of poor Syrian rebels to fight in Libya. Turkey has also used Libya as a testing ground for its armed drones. Turkey has conducted naval exercises with Italy recently and almost clashed with France at sea in an incident NATO is investigating.
Ankara is showing its muscle. It publishes maps showing its claim to a huge swath of the Mediterranean that cut off Greece and Cyprus. It brags about sending F-16s and cargo aircraft to off the coast of Libya. It has also sought to strongarm NATO and force the US to intervene in Libya.
These are high stakes now. Egypt has been backing General Khalifa Haftar, who Haftar fled Libya’s Qadafi regime decades ago and lived in the US. He returned to Libya to lead an offensive that took Benghazi and the east of the country, vowing to rid it of terrorists. It should be remembered that Libya fell into chaos after the US-led intervention toppled brutal dictator Muammar Gadaffi in 2011.
US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was murdered by jihadists in September 2012. The US walked away and Libya fell into battles between extremists, local militias, tribes, and Qatari and UAE-backed groups. From chaos came two sides: The Government of the National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, a loose confederation of different groups, some of whom are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkish backing. Turkey’s ruling party has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Egypt, whose current leader General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi pushed the Brotherhood from power in 2013 in Egypt, vowing to bring stability, has backed Haftar.
Haftar would bring to Libya the same kind of military and conservative rule that Egypt and the Gulf monarchies have. Turkey’s rule would bring the kind of instability and extremism it exported to Idlib and other areas it invaded in northern Syria. Both systems seem to ignore the average Libyans who are caught in the middle of almost 10 years of war. Both sides have accused each other of human rights abuses. But Turkey has proven more adept at moving weapons and defense technology to Libya. Its Bayraktar drones have defeated the UAE-supplied Russian Pantsir air defense. It has pushed Haftar back.
Now Egypt’s president is signaling possible red lines in Libya. This line could keep the Turkish-backed GNA from Sirte and a strategic airfield at Jufra. The country would be split down the middle. Egypt has a massive army, but it is also an army mostly untested on foreign battlefields.
Egypt has been fighting terrorists in Sinai for years and has not defeated them. Turkey however has been sending its army into Syria for years, mostly to fight the Kurdistan Workers Party. But in February Turkish forces clashed with the Syrian regime and destroyed their armored vehicles and air defense. Turkey has recently invaded northern Iraq as well, in a new operation. Turkey’s navy has been more aggressive dealing with the French, who are alleged to support Haftar, and the Greeks, who work with Egypt. Turkey’s F-16s and NATO warplanes have also been more aggressive. When is the last time Egypt had to face off with another real air force? Not for decades.
On paper Turkey’s armed forces and Egypt’s are well matched. Both have F-16s and hundreds of fighter aircraft. Egypt’s army is the 9th strongest in the world on paper with thousands of tanks. Turkey’s armed forces are thought to be the 11th strongest in the world. Both countries use western weapons systems linked to the US or NATO. Turkey’s work with NATO likely makes it more effective than Egypt.
Both countries are bogged down in counter-insurgency campaigns. Egypt is close to Libya and can easily move an armored brigade or troops to the frontline. Turkey would have to fly them in and it likely prefers using Syrian rebel mercenaries to do its dirty work. That would pit lightly armed Syrians and their Libyan allies against similarly lightly armed Libyans from the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Haftar, backed by some Egyptian forces or aircraft. Russia already has aircraft in eastern Libya.
Egypt’s president has now openly hinted that the army could be used on foreign soil. His goal is to get the US to take seriously his demand for a ceasefire. Turkey has said it will build new military bases in Libya and has bragged that it now has bases in nine countries.
Turkey is trying to show it controls the eastern Mediterranean, and also controls US policy in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Turkey has demanded the Trump administration do more in Libya and the role of Russia has encouraged the US to be concerned. That means the US is in an awkward position. It wants to oppose Russia, but Egypt is a close partner of the US. Turkey is trying to blackmail the US.
Turkey is buying S-400s from Russia and trying to claim that if the US doesn’t act in Libya then Turkey could make trouble for US-backed forces in eastern Syria, or Turkey might spread instability in Iraq, where it is bombing areas in the Kurdish north. All Egypt can do is say that it might intervene to get Washington to take its views seriously. But Trump has signaled he doesn’t want more involvement in the Middle East and “far off places.”
Egypt has acted before in Libya. It has carried out airstrikes after attacks in Egypt and on Egyptians. But Egypt hasn’t sent tanks and serious equipment.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s speech by Sisi to the soldiers is a major step. On June 9 Turkey’s president said he reached an agreement with the US on Libya. The US had warned about foreign interference in Libya on May 20. The May statement came after the GNA took the key Watiya Airbase on may 18. Sisi met Haftar on April 14, May 9 and June 7, eventually urging a ceasefire. Since then Turkey rejected the ceasefire on June 10 and vowed not to meet with Haftar who Ankara calls a “warlord.” Turkey says Haftar rejected nine previous ceasefire deals.
Instead Ankara reached out to Italy to back its own “durable peace” in Libya, one that foresees Turkey and the GNA controlling Libya. Italy cares because it wants the GNA to keep migrants from crossing the Mediterranean. On June 20 the Arab League suggested talks to help heal Libya but the GNA rejected them.
We now know other wheels are in motion. Russia, Voice of America reported on June 17, has asked for the US to work with it on Libya. Russia’s foreign minister canceled a meeting with Turkey on June 16, apparently sensing Turkey won’t budge on Libya and it would be a waste of time. Turkey turned directly to Trump and Germany’s Angela Merkel, hoping Merkel will reach out to France and also Greece. Merkel is a key supporter of Ankara’s regime, selling Turkey tanks and also seeking to host Libya talks. Germany pays Turkey, via the European Union, to keep Syrian refugees from coming to Europe.
Those Syrians are now being sent to Libya by Turkey, so this works in Germany’s favor. Russia, for its part, may try to heat up tensions in Syria’s Idlib to pressure Turkey on Libya. All these conflicts and refugees are connected. In the meantime the US, through its AFRICOM military commanders, have warned of Russia’s warplanes in Libya on May 26 and June 18.
This big question now is Sisi. Will he send the army, or will the US listen to Egypt’s concerns and encourage a ceasefire. The US has trouble not following Ankara’s orders because Ankara can threaten US forces in eastern Syria. Additionally there is a well funded GNA lobby in Washington with connections to pro-Turkey voices that argue US foreign policy in the Middle East must be rooted in whatever Ankara demands.
This lobby believes that Ankara will one day turn on Iran and Russia and that the US must give Turkey more concessions to get Turkey to stop working with Moscow and Tehran. Oddly Turkey has also turned to Iran for support in Libya, offering Iran sanctions relief for Iran’s help fighting Kurdish militants in Iraq and aiding Turkey in Syria.
The US and Iran might find themselves on the same side in Libya via Turkey. It all hinges on Cairo now. If Cairo has a military footprint in Libya it can do what Turkey has successfully done and leverage it for concessions. For now Egypt must watch and contemplate the next step. Everyone is also looking to Washington to do more than just hint that it supports both Egypt’s ceasefire proposal and Ankara’s approach. What happens next will also affect Washington’s other allies, in Jerusalem and Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
Source: The Jerusalem Post