Libya: Aguila Saleh urges Egypt to intervene if Sirte attacked

The speaker of Libya’s eastern-based Parliament has urged Egypt to intervene militarily if forces allied with the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) attack the strategic city of Sirte, Egypt’s state news agency has reported.

An Egyptian intervention in Libya would be “legitimate … if the terrorist and armed militias crossed the red line”, Aguila Saleh was quoted as saying by the official MENA news agency on Wednesday.

“The Libyan people are officially asking for Egypt to interfere with military forces if the necessities of maintaining Libyan national security and Egyptian national security require this.”

Libya, a major oil producer, has been mired in chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Eastern-based forces under renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive in April last year to try to capture Tripoli from the GNA.

Haftar’s forces, which are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia, were forced to retreat from much of western Libya in recent weeks after Turkey stepped up its support for the UN-brokered government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Buoyed by their recent battlefield victories, GNA-aligned forces said they would stop their advance after retaking Sirte, a city of some 125,000 people on the Mediterranean coast and the inland Jufra airbase.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, however, warned over the weekend that any attack on Sirte or Jufra would amount to crossing a “red line”.

He said Egypt could intervene militarily to protect its western border with the oil-rich country.

In response, the GNA said it considered el-Sisi’s comments a “declaration of war”.

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