The Daily Telegraph

Egypt approves deployment of troops in Libya to ‘secure’ western border


EGYPT’S parliament has approved a potential military interventi­on in Libya, where President Abdel-fattah al-sisi has threatened to attack Turkish-backed forces.

Egyptian MPS voted unanimousl­y on Monday to approve the deployment of troops abroad to fight “foreign-sponsored terrorist groups” and “militias”.

The resolution gave no time frame and made no mention of Turkey, or even Libya specifical­ly, referring instead to a western deployment. But it risks escalating the spiralling conflict in Libya, where foreign powers have ignored an arms embargo to support the country’s warring factions with weapons and fighters.

Since 2014, Libya has been split between the Un-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli and a rival administra­tion in the east led by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Egypt, which says it is concerned for the security of its western border, has bombed suspected militants in Libya and supports Mr Haftar, who is also backed by the UAE and Russia.

Turkish military support for the GNA enabled the Tripoli government to fight off a 14-month offensive by Haftar’s forces to seize the capital.

The offensive finally collapsed last month and forces loyal to the GNA have since pushed back pro-haftar groups hundreds of miles to the central coastal city of Sirte, where both sides are now massing forces.

The birthplace of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Sirte is the gateway to Libya’s main oil-export terminals and fields, which are controlled by Haftar.

Sirte is nearly 600 miles by road from Egypt, but President Sisi warned last week that it was a “red line” and that an attack on the strategic city would prompt an Egyptian military interventi­on in defence of its border.

Monday’s parliament’s resolution risks bringing US allies Egypt and Turkey into open conflict and was taken shortly after a phone call in which Donald Trump, the US president, urged Mr Sisi not to escalate the situation in Libya.

“The two leaders affirmed the need for immediate de-escalation in Libya, including through a ceasefire and progress on economic and political negotiatio­ns,” the White House said.

Last week, the US accused Russian mercenarie­s supporting Mr Haftar of planting landmines around Tripoli.

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