17 June – 23 June: Sisi threatens to invade Libya

Jun 24, 2020 | International actors

On 20 June, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi stated that Egypt has the legitimate right to intervene in Libya and ordered his forces to be on alert to undertake activity in Libya if required. At a military airbase in Marsa Matrouh, located around 200km east of the Libyan border, Sisi told his forces, “Any direct intervention from the Egyptian state has now acquired international legitimacy” adding that Egypt had the right to defend itself from direct threats from “terrorist militias and mercenaries.”

In the wake of Sisi’s statements, many of the foreign actors involved in Libya have released statements. Most of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) allies have indicated their support for Sisi’s move and its legitimacy in the face of Turkish aggression, while continuing to pay lip service to a ceasefire, negotiations and the Berlin process. More neutral countries and bodies have expressed concern about any military escalation and have called for a ceasefire. Turkey has largely dismissed Egypt’s threats.

On 22 June, French president Emmanuel Macron said at a press conference with Tunisian President Kais Saied that he considers that “Turkey is playing a dangerous game in Libya today and going against all of its commitments made at the Berlin conference.” Macron said he has communicated this to Turkish President Erdogan and said France won’t tolerate Turkey’s current role in Libya. In response to a question about Sisi indicating he had the right to intervene in Libya, Macron said that Sisi’s concern about troops arriving at his border was legitimate, especially given Turkey is importing Syrian fighters into Libya.

On 22 June, the United States’ National Security Council (NSC) said that, “The United States strongly opposes military escalation in Libya – on all sides” and urged parties to commit to a ceasefire and resume negotiations immediately. The NSC also stressed the need to build on the UN’s 5 +5 talks, the Cairo initiative, and the Berlin process. This sentiment was echoed by the UN, the European Union (EU), Italy and Germany. On 22 June, US President Donald Trump discussed bilateral and regional issues with Macron and the two leaders agreed for the need for a ceasefire in Libya and a prompt return to negotiations.

On 22 June, the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Serraj, hosted a closed-door meeting in Zuwara with a US AFRICOM delegation led by General Stephen Townsend and accompanied by US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland.

On 22 June, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution strongly condemning all acts of violence in Libya and urging UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to dispatch a fact-finding mission to the country. The fact-finding mission experts will “document alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by all parties in Libya since the beginning of 2016.”