Turkey’s Erdogan says Egypt’s actions in Libya are ‘illegal’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for supporting forces based in eastern Libya, after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi met Libyan tribesmen who urged Cairo to intervene in the war.

Turkey has been providing military aid to the United Nations-recognised government in the Libya conflict, while Egypt, the UAE and Russia have backed its foes in a rival administration based in the east.

Recent weeks have seen dramatic military advances by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which drove back forces of the eastern renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar who had launched an assault on Tripoli last year.

Eastern-based legislators called this week for Egypt to intervene in the conflict. El-Sisi met Libyan tribesmen on Thursday and said Egypt would not stand idle in the face of a direct threat to Egyptian and Libyan security.

Asked about the possibility of Egyptian intervention, Erdogan said on Friday Turkey would maintain its support for the GNA.

“Steps taken by Egypt here, especially their siding with the putschist Haftar, show they are in an illegal process,” he said. He also described the approach of the UAE as “piratical”.

El-Sisi said last month Egypt’s army might enter Libya if the Tripoli government and its Turkish allies renewed an assault on the central Sirte-Jufrah front line, seen as the gateway to Libya’s main oil export terminals, now held by Haftar’s allies.

Libya has been mired in conflict since 2011, when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was removed in a NATO-backed operation.

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