Egypt re-enters neighboring Libya

Egypt finds western-accepted presence to re-enter power struggle in neighboring Libya after sponsoring the military campaign of the former general-turn cloak Khalifa Haftar.

Egypt re-enters neighboring Libya

Tevhid Basturk

Following the release of a video depicting the gruesome beheading of 21 Coptic Egyptian Christians by ISIS militants Sunday, the Egyptian government began conducting airstrikes in Libya for the second time since August on Monday.

Speaking at a Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi swore that he would extract vengeance as Egyptian planes would strike Derna at dawn the next day and again in the afternoon.

Sisi, having begun a domestic crackdown on militancy in Egypt earlier in August, is the greatest supporter of Libya’s Tobruk based House of Representatives (HoR) assembly, having aided forces loyal to them with airstrikes at the Tripoli International Airport in August.

Egyptian officials had initially come out to local media sources taking responsibility for the strikes, but later began to deny having any involvement.

In the months that followed the HoR’s failed attempt to take control of the airport, Sisi’s administration took a step-back from actively supporting the assembly which came to power after suspect elections which concluded with under 20% attendance and was later deemed constitutionally illegal by Libya’s Supreme Court.

However, Egypt never stopped sponsoring the military campaign of the HoR’s Chiefs of Staff, former Libyan general-turn cloak Khalifa Haftar. 

Haftar, seeking a leading role in the turmoil rattled country failed to seize power by force in May when his gunmen couldn’t make the Tripoli based General National Assembly fold to an armed attempt at the ruling body, turned to the HoR as an ally bringing with him his militia.

The self-declared “Libyan National Army”, under Haftar serves as the HoR’s armed forces and according to the renegade-strongman’s own words has been funded primarily by Egypt and its Gulf partners the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Though Egypt took an apparent months long hiatus from directly engaging the HoR’s opponents in Libya, Sisi’s administration continued meddling with the affairs next door by going as far as to rent Haftar’s forces some of its warplanes to use in strikes against the country’s central government.

Sisi, since taking power through the military ouster of Egypt’s first ever democratically elected leader Mohammad Morsi in 2013 has begun a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist oriented political opponents opposing his coming to power.

Under the pretense of battling insurgency across Egypt, Sisi’s administration began passing legislation to ban all forms of protest across the country while courts charged hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters to mass-executions.

Sisi’s war on insurgency would then spread to Palestine as the construction of a one-kilometer wide buffer zone spanning the entire border of the two states threatens to put the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, already suffering from an ongoing embargo enforced by Israel, into further isolation.

Following the kidnapping of the 21 Coptic foreign workers from the city of Sirte and their resulting barbaric execution, Sisi now appears to have the West’s consent in engaging ISIS militants in Libya while Haftar continues his regiment of airstrikes against areas held by Libya’s central government.

While Sisi’s forces launched their attacks on Derna; Haftar’s forces claiming to be acting in coordination with the Egyptian Air Force conducted strikes in Sirte and Ben Jawad, both region’s currently under the control of the central government in Tripoli.

Though Haftar and his forces had received condemnations and threats of looming sanctions form the United Nations and the European Union in the past, their latest strikes, irrelevant to the Egyptian pretense of targeting ISIS, went unnoticed in the greater scheme of events as the international community focused on consoling Egypt all-the-while the ongoing unity government peace talks remain underway in the country.

France’s President Francoise Hollande and the UAE (who had joined Egypt in striking the airport in August) both expressed their unconditional support for Egypt’s infringement of Libya’s territorial sovereignty while the United Kingdom’s David Cameron and the White House only hardly made mention of determining Libya’s future through diplomatic means with the ongoing talks.

A sigh of relief came for Libya as Tunisia stated that they would not take sides in the ongoing crisis in the country and that they would certainly not point the finger for causing the instability at the central government and its allied forces as Egypt had.

Though Egypt has yet to once again target the central government, Sisi’s administration has made no secret of that matter that it continues to blame Tripoli for the militant activity in the country’s east. Even if Egypt refrains from directly attacking forces allied to Tripoli, by continuing to support Haftar and forming a coalition with his forces, Egypt remains culpable of serving as an accessory in meddling with Libya’s internal affairs.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Şubat 2015, 16:32

Muhammed Öylek