We had seen Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar rush to the mercy of Aqilah Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi after the Government of National Accord (GNA) forced him to retreat last week. There, or the first time, they mentioned the Cairo declaration pertaining to a ceasefire, something they could not be convinced of to accept until now despite all the pressure, and a political solution that can be carried out together with all sides of Libya. However, it’s too little, too late for this solution to be put into practice.
Of course, the political process will eventually going to pick up where it left off and the people of Libya will decide their own destiny; however, neither Haftar, nor Saleh, nor Sisi, or anyone else who provided them with all sort of support to fight against the people of Libya will have any role in this process.
Forget being apart of the political process; Haftar will now stand as defendant and be brought to account for the crimes he committed against humanity. Those who backed him in these crimes also need to defend themselves; this is what things have currently come to.
At least eight mass graves were found in the Tarhuna area, which was last captured from Haftar’s forces. The vast majority of those killed consist of children and women; it is stated that there is evidence they buried alive. What business can a criminal, who is so ruthless towards the civilians of his own country, have at any negotiation table where the future of the Libyan people will be discussed?
GNA forces are continuing to purge Libya of Haftar’s forces, and currently, their fight is ongoing at the gates of Sirte. Sisi, who insists on stopping at this point, made a very surprising outburst during the visit of Air Forces units the previous day, saying, “The Egyptian army may launch a military operation outside the borders of the country, if needed,” and added, “Sirte and Jufra are our red line. Libya will not be defended by anyone other than Libyans. We are ready to help and give our support. There is now legitimacy for Egypt to intervene in Libya.”
These statements, on the one hand, are a confession that the operations conducted by Egypt in Libya so far had no legitimacy whatsoever. On the other hand, it is the expression of a clear opposition for the first time against Turkey’s presence in Libya.
What legitimacy might Sisi be talking about with respect to Egyptian presence in Libya? He is talking about Egypt’s shared border with Libya, and the circumstance caused by Libya’s instability.
However, the common border with Libya dos not necessarily present a security risk to Egypt. On the contrary, Egypt is the one threatening Libya’s security right now, not the other way around. There is currently no recorded threat, attack or terrorist infiltration from Libya to Egypt. Quite the opposite: Sisi’s Egypt is the one that supports and arms former Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who has nothing left to do with Libya, and provided him with mercenary soldiers to directly attack Libya. Egypt, which has been under Sisi’s rule since 2014, inflicted all sorts of grief, massacre, and instability on the people of Libya with this attitude. Therefore, Libya may have the right to intervene in Egypt for posing a security threat right now, but Egypt does not have any such right.
Nonetheless, Egypt currently has more real enemies and problems that are truly threatening its borders. The construction of the Nahda Dam built by Ethiopia on the Nile, which makes up 93 percent of Egypt’s water source, is continuing as Sisi idly watches on. The true threat against Egypt, which is now considering the serious security problems in Sinai as a “chronic,” has always been Israel. Yet, while it has taken no step against Israel to date, what is the meaning of him talking the talk against Libya, and consequently Turkey, and how compatible is it with its own realities?
It seems that it is the deeper problems pushing Sisi to flex his muscles like this. The crisis that has long been ongoing with Ethiopia, has reached a peak upon water starting to be stored to fill the reservoir, and Sisi has not been able to come up with any viable solution. A serious water problem awaits Egypt. It could have at least taken measures against this, but it has not.
Sinai has currently turned into a quagmire for Sisi; there is a Zionist plan that will eventually be implemented there and Sisi’s hands and are all tied up – or, on the contrary, he has no argument or effort to explain his policies that facilitate these plans.
On another note, the stance taken against the coronavirus, which is not at all befitting the qualification of a state, is an important matter of perturbing the people. Of course, such a charade will not save Sisi against all his failures, however, he is seeking some cold comfort.
The other dimension of it is that there is nobody in Sirte and Jufra, which he declared Egypt’s red line, who will pay any attention to him. In the current state, this matter is more so a subject of negotiation between Turkey and Russia.
There is no legitimate power that will request his presence in Libya. The operations (armament, training, and war) he says he will carry out through the tribes he has pinned his hopes on, will only serve to add to his already-bulging international crime file. The GNA, recognized by the UN as a legitimate administration, identifies all his interventions as an invasion attempt and rejects it.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s direct intervention in Libya will require it so stand against both Algeria, which perceives the matter as a threat against its own security, and NATO – through Turkey.
Sisi neither has the power nor intention to risk this, but talking a big game is free. But for him, even water is too expensive a price to pay.