This if the authority that Cairo recognizes as legitimate, that is, the one that belongs to the government established in Cyrenaica and whose military arm is constituted by the Libyan National Army of General Khalifa Haftar, should he request it or suffer further attacks by forces close to the government headed by Fayez Al Sarraj. And here we come then to that Red line which according to Al Sisi should not be exceeded, that is the portion of territory that concerns the city of Sirte and the basis of Al Jufra.
These two are strategic locations still in the hands of Haftar, after the latter had to actually evacuate Tripolitania after the advance of the Al Sarraj pro-forces. The territorial conquests of militias close to the Tripoli government have been made possible thanks to Turkish aid, with Ankara who in recent months has provided arms, money and especially the Syrian mercenaries taken from Idlib.
Al Sisi therefore made it clear that if the aims of Al Sarraj and Turkey should go beyond the Tripolitania and then aim for the Cyrenaica, where Haftar has its strategic base, then Egypt could consider entering the war against Tripoli. And from the Libyan capital the reaction was not long in coming: “The intervention in Libyan internal affairs and the violation of sovereignty – reads a statement issued by the Libyan presidential council – are a hostile act and a declaration of war”.
So unequivocal words, which mark a very strong tension between Tripoli and Cairo and which could be the prelude to new escalations of the Libyan conflict. According to the government of Al Sarraj, what Al Sisi said could be considered as a real act of war.
The real reason for the tension concerns above all the strong Turkish influence in the west of Libya, which could also affect all the various other provinces of the North African country in the future. Ankara and Cairo are positioned on two different fronts: the Turkish government in fact supports the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that instead Al Sisi immediately banned once he took office. A clash then that was transferred to Libya, where Turkey supports Al Sarraj, whose government also has members of the brotherhood, while Egypt is one of General Haftar’s main sponsors.
Given the military difficulties of the number one of the Libyan National Army, a direct Egyptian intervention should not be excluded, through the mouth of Al Sisi himself, if Al Sarraj and the Turkish allies were to cross the red line of Sirte.