Egypt's support for Libya army key to national security   2014-08-29 05:21:54            

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Egyptian leadership is willing to provide massive support for the neighboring Libyan army to protect Egypt's western borders from Islamist extremist attacks that have been rising since the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year, say Egyptian experts.

At the request of Libyan military chief of staff, parliament speaker and foreign minister in their recent visit to Cairo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi showed support for the reestablishment of the Libyan military and willingness to train its troops on the Egyptian soil.

"This is an important step because Libya represents a strategic depth for Egypt from the western side, and its turmoil poses a threat to the Egyptian national security," said security expert Adel al-Qalla, retired armed forces general and also head of Egypt Arab Communist Party.

The tension is rising in the region as several Arab states, including Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Sudan, are sinking in chaos due to inner conflicts. Egypt, whose military is considered the strongest in the Arab world, seeks to secure its borders with turmoil-stricken states that might export more extremists to the country.

"Egypt has to cooperate with the military forces of Libya and also those of Syria and Iraq to protect its national security," Qalla told Xinhua, stressing the stability of these countries as part of Egypt's stability in particular and regional stability in general.

The turmoil in Libya has reached an alarming level as a coalition of Islamist militias managed a few days ago to capture Tripoli Airport from another armed group after a month of fighting. The militants, who refer to themselves as legitimate revolutionary groups, have been branded by the Libyan parliament as "terrorist groups."

The West accuses Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of launching air strikes against Libyan Islamists in favor of the new secular parliament and the Libyan military forces, which has been officially denied by both Egypt and the UAE.

Hassan Nafaa, political science professor at Cairo University, said that Libyan influential Islamists deal with the new Egyptian leadership as anti-Brotherhood coup leaders, which causes a lot of issues for Egypt including assaulting Egyptians in Libya, smuggling weapons and penetrating the Libyan-Egyptian borders.

Egypt is currently facing rising terrorist attacks against police and military forces, the last of which killed 22 soldiers last month at a military checkpoint in the Western Desert, towards the borders with Libya.

"Egypt seeks to restore stability in Libya amid such a rising tension while some other regional states like Qatar support the anti-Egypt Libyan factions in the conflict, which poses a real threat to Egypt's security." Nafaa said, noting that the Egypt feels surrounding by dangers from all sides.

On Thursday, Sisi said that despite the harm that Egypt suffers from the deteriorating political and security conditions in Libya, "the country is committed to noninterference in the Libyan domestic affairs."

He also voiced support for the newly-elected Libyan parliament against the rejection of "the minority" who referred to violence and armed confrontation to impose their ideology.

Former Egyptian ambassador to Libya, Hani Khallaf, said that some Libyan parties reject any role played by Egypt, UAE or Saudi Arabia for a settlement in Libya due to their anti-Islamist positions, preferring neutral Algeria and Tunisia.

"The same applies to Qatar and Turkey that are rejected by secular parties in Libya," Khallaf told Xinhua, noting that the second group would enable Egypt to work on strengthening and training the Libyan army and assisting the country's reconstruction and economic development.

Khallaf, once serving as assistant foreign minister, said that most Western and even African states agree with Egypt on the legitimacy of the new Libyan parliament.

Since the removal of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the North African country has fallen into a state of chaos, lack of security, political turmoil, internal fighting and massive spread of some 20 million pieces of weapon seized from Gaddafi's army.

"Political and security settlement is urgently required in Libya and it needs Arab, European and international efforts to be achieved," the ex-diplomat stressed, recommending that an internal agreement for disarming Libyan militias is a must in order to reach a sustainable settlement.

"I expect this to be achieved within two years and it wouldn't be as easy as some might think," Khallaf said.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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