CAIRO – As Cairo demonstrates its readiness to intervene in Libya in response to GNA’s announced offensive on Sirte, how much bluff versus reality do these threats contain?
On 18 July, troops from the Fayez al-Sarraj-led Government of National Accord (GNA) set out in the direction of the city of Sirte, located northwest of Libya’s strategic oil crescent, with the objective of taking back control of this area held by the Libyan National Army (LNA) – under the command of General Khalifa Haftar – and mercenaries with ties to the Russian private security firm Wagner Group.
GNA military commanders said that around 200 vehicles are on their way to Sirte from Misrata. As these troops move closer to this strategic city, the likelihood of a confrontation between Libya’s various rival factions and their international backers increases.
As a matter of fact, Cairo, allied with General Haftar, is reviewing a number of military options to counter the advance of forces loyal to the GNA and the latter’s Turkish ally. According to the Egyptian media outlet Al-Ahram, Egypt’s parliament met on Monday, 20 July to discuss the situation in Libya. The debate was set to be followed by a vote to mandate President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to intervene militarily in Libya.
During a meeting on 16 July in Cairo between the Egyptian president and Libyan tribal leaders, the latter group asked Sisi to authorize Egypt’s armed forces to intervene to protect the “national security of Libya and Egypt”.
Sisi pledged his support to them on Monday 20 July in Cairo after Egyptian MPs unanimously approved a military intervention in Libya, in accordance with Article 152 of the constitution, which stipulates that “the supreme leader of the [a]rmed [f]orces […] shall not declare war or send the [a]rmed [f]orces outside the state’s borders to undertake fighting missions unless he first seeks the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs”.