Turkey dismisses Egyptian warning of Libya intervention

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Istanbul
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Egypt’s warning that it could intervene directly in neighbouring Libya will not deter Turkey supporting its Libyan allies, a senior Turkish official said on Monday, amid tensions between regional rivals Cairo and Ankara.

Turkey backs Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), which has reversed a 14-month assault on the Libyan capital Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Ankara’s entry into Libya’s conflict has stoked tensions with Haftar’s backers, as well as France.

On Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in Libya and ordered his army to be ready for any mission outside the country, if necessary.

“Sisi’s statements have no basis,” the Turkish official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “Turkey and Libya will not turn back from their determination.”

The GNA with Turkish support is continuing preparations to recapture the strategic coastal city of Sirte, seized by Haftar’s forces in January, and the Jufra region further south, the official added.

Yasin Aktay, a deputy chairman of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, said direct intervention by Egypt would not be supported by Algeria, another of Libya’s neighbours, and would set Egypt against NATO member Turkey.

“Sisi does not have the power or guts to attempt this,” he said. The UAE and Saudi Arabia expressed support for Egypt after Sisi’s statement on Saturday. 

Earlier this month, Egypt called for a ceasefire in Libya as part of a new initiative, which the United States, Russia and the UAE welcomed. Turkey dismissed it as an attempt to save Haftar following his battlefield losses.