Egyptian President Abdelfatah al-Sisi demanded a mandate for military intervention in Libya and the country’s parliament, after a closed session, granted it late Monday. The plan to send troops to the neighbouring country on the grounds of “defending national security” threatens to aggravate the chaos in Libya, which has now become a backyard for disputes between Egypt and Turkey.
The Egyptian regime has raised the tone of warfare since June when the 14-month siege of Tripoli by the troops of Khalifa Haftar, the marshal who leads the Libyan National Army backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, ended in fiasco. Since then, Cairo has threatened to cross the border if Tripoli’s executive forces set out to conquer Sirte, Muammar Qaddafi’s hometown and gateway to oil, and Khufra, the district where Haftar’s main military base is located. Al Sisi, at a public event last month, called both enclaves “red lines”.
The authorisation states that the mandate will remain in force until the military mission is completed. The Egyptian constitution states that the president, as supreme commander of the armed forces, cannot declare war or deploy troops abroad without consulting the National Defence Council and having the support of two-thirds of parliament.
Before the debate began, the president of the parliament, Ali Abdelal, asked the media to leave the room and asked the honourable Members to respect the secrecy of the deliberations, in the middle of a series of outrageous events that set Cairo and Ankara, two close partners of the United States, against each other. In a telephone call on Monday, Al Sisi and Donald Trump agreed on the need to maintain the ceasefire in Libya and prevent an escalation.