A statement released Sunday by a former Egyptian Foreign Minister that rising upheaval in Libya presents Egypt with major national security implications is being interpreted by many to mean that Egypt is once again considering military intervention in Libya to prevent that country’s chaos from spreading across Egypt’s western border.
Although he is no longer in government, the statement by Amr Moussa, one of Egypt’s most prominent citizens best known for his long tenure as Secretary General of the Arab League, is thought to have been issued with the tacit approval of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi. Moussa is regarded as an “unofficial mouthpiece” for the Egyptian leader.
Released late Sunday, Moussa’s statement said, “The situation in Libya is a major concern for Egypt, Libya’s neighboring countries, and the Arab world at large.” Adding to speculation that Egypt is considering military options to protect its western frontier, Moussa’s statement continued, “Statelets, sects and extremist factions in Libya directly threaten Egypt’s national security. I call for a broad public debate to sensitize public opinion to the risks and to build the necessary support in case we have to exercise our right to self-defense.”
Egyptian concern over the mounting chaos next door comes as most Western diplomats have already fled Libya. Attempting to prevent their country from spinning still further out of control, Libya’s newly elected parliament was forced to convene an extraordinary first session in the eastern port city of Tobruk Monday due to fighting in the capital city Tripoli and in the country’s second-largest city Benghazi.
Libya’s parliament was called to order by the country’s presiding lawmaker Abu Bakr Bueira, who told the 188 assembled members that “We will prove to the world that Libya is not a failed country.”
Libya’s civil war has intensified in recent months, as local militias and rival tribes appear to be coalescing with radical Islamist forces to battle secular authoritarian forces of the former regime of strongman Muammar Qaddafi, which was ousted with the help primarily of European forces in 2011.
The Islamists tried to organize a national boycott of the convening of the new parliament but appear to have failed, as all but 12 of the 200-elected-member legislature made their way to Tobruk for the opening session.
Egyptian concerns that powerful Islamist militias that control much of eastern Libya could pose a serious threat to its own security were magnified following last month’s attack upon a border post that killed 21 Egyptian soldiers.
The past week has seen a marked increase in violence across the largely ungoverned country that has resulted in tens of thousands of Egyptians working in Libya to leave the country.
The statement by Moussa likened the hardcore Libyan Islamist militias with their ideological brethren of ISIS that have recently seized large sections of eastern Syria and western Iraq to form what they call the Islamic State.