Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed “deep concern” over the conflict in Libya and its implications for the country’s future, in a Sunday meeting with his Libyan counterpart, Mohamed Al-Dairi.
In the meeting, Shoukry and Al-Dairi discussed the initiative of the UN’s Special Representative for Libya, Bernardino Leon, who is seeking to convene a national forum for dialogue to end the Libyan conflict.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement noted, however, that the recent escalation in militia violence risks undermining the chances of success of the UN initiative.
Shoukry reiterated Egypt’s full support for “Libya’s legitimate institutions”, as well as “institution building efforts”.
Libya currently has two parallel governments, the internationally-recognised House of Representatives, alongside the cabinet of Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani, based in the eastern port city of Tobruk. This is the government Shoukry refers to when speaking of Libya’s legitimate institutions.
A rival Tripoli-based government consists of a new General National Congress and the Supreme Court, and is backed by Libya Dawn, a coalition of Islamist militias. The General National Congress was Libya’s only official legislature until the June 2014 elections, after which it was supposed to be disbanded and replaced by the new House of Representatives.
Politicians from Islamist parties who fared poorly in the elections, however, refused to acknowledge their defeat, citing voting irregularities and low turnout amid the country’s deepening civil war. As factional fighting split the country, they set up the new General National Congress, which is led by the Justice and Construction Party, the political arm of the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt has emerged as a leading backer of the Tobruk-based government, though the actual nature of the support remains unclear. The BBC and the New York Times, among other prominent media outlets, have reported that Egypt cooperated with the UAE to carry out airstrikes against Islamist targets in Libya. The Egyptian government has vehemently denied the allegations.
In his meeting with Shoukry, Al-Dairi also offered the condolences of the Libyan government for the “heinous terrorist act” that left three Egyptians dead in Libya. An Egyptian doctor and his wife were killed and their daughter abducted in Sirte on 23 December. The body of the daughter was found two days after the attack.
The Libyan foreign minister added that the “terrorist elements” also killed 14 soldiers in Libya at the time of this incident.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its call for Egyptians residing in Libya to exert the utmost caution, and stay away from all places where clashes are taking place.
Egypt briefly closed the Salloum border crossing to Libya on 23 December, in response to a request by the Tobruk government that was based on security concerns. The border is currently open, according to Marsa Matrouh Chief of Security Major Anany Hamouda.