Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said Egypt supports the UN-backed efforts to form national unity government in Libya.
In his meeting with the head of Tobruk government Aguila Saleh Tuesday, the Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s commitment to offering all forms of aid to the Libya state institutions to allow them to maintain stability and security.
Saleh discussed the latest developments in Libya with Al-Sisi, praising the Egyptian efforts to support the political process in the neighbouring country.
Al-Sisi further emphasised the importance of lifting the embargo on providing arms to the national Libyan army and supporting it as a keystone in the fight against “Islamic State” (IS). He further pointed out the importance of halting the flow of funding to militant groups in Libya, according to a statement released by the presidential spokesperson.
Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry moreover affirmed his belief that Libya must form a new government before any Western intervention begins against IS in Libya. “This has to be a Libyan-led process,” Shoukry said in an interview with Reuters during his visit to Washington. He said that the process however will not be easy.
Concern has grown within the international community regarding the spread of terrorism in Libya after IS made significant territorial gains in the North African country. IS forces now control three Libyan cities: Derna, Sirte, and Subratha.
Recent clashes between the Libyan Army of the Tobruk government and the militant group have taken place against the backdrop of Libyan oil facilities in Al-Sedra and Ras Lanuf, a crucial revenue source for the political factions vying for control of the country. In January, IS seized the city of Beni Jawad, near Al Sedra and Ras Lanuf.
Shoukry warned of any international intervention without a request from a Libyan legitimate government.
“The experience in the past … might have been met by the Libyan people with a little bit of concern, the outcome of the last intervention,” Shoukry told Reuters.
Egypt’s FM believes that Khalifa Haftar, who is the leader of the armed forces loyal to the Tobruk parliament, should take a leading role in the fight against IS.
Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper told the Congress Tuesday that IS in Libya is “one of its most developed branches outside Syria and Iraq” since it is “well positioned to expand territory under its control in 2016”.
US state department spokesperson John Kirby expressed the US’s understanding of the importance of achieving stability in Libya for Egypt.