Report Claims Libya’s Scuds Menace Egypt
Egypt and North Africa are preparing to counter a potential security threat from Libya, claims a report by Stratfor Strategic Forecasting on its website on Tuesday.
The reports says that Egypt in particular is speeding up the pace of its missile program, but this time the impetus may be Libya, rather than Israel.
According to Stratfor, Egypt is increasing efforts to deploy medium-range ballistic missiles, but for once Cairo doesn't seem to be worried about Israel. Instead, there are signs Egypt and its neighbors in North Africa are preparing for the day that Libya slips out from the sanctions the United States imposed in 1996 for Libya's “terrorist sponsorship.”
Oddly enough, Libya's re-emergence as a regional power may stabilize North Africa: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco are all moving to counter Tripoli.
Over the past several years, Libya has shed much of its image as a rogue nation and terrorist threat. As a result, the United Nations has dropped sanctions, and other sanctions are eroding quickly.
Even the United States may soften its opposition to foreign investment in Libya's oil industry. The White House is pressing Congress to extend sanctions by two years, rather than five, a Reuters report was quoted as saying.
“Under sanctions, Libya had to restrain its spending and behavior. Although Libyans enjoy a high standard of living compared with the rest of the African continent, sanctions have kept defense spending down. More important, Libya had to be on its best behavior. But sometime in the next two to five years, the United States will likely drop its sanctions, and Libya will enjoy a surge of cash and more freedom of action.”
According to the report, “Egypt, meanwhile, appears to be stepping up the pace of its ballistic missile program. Between 50 and 300 North Korean technicians are in Egypt working on medium-range No-Dong missiles, United Press International reported June 18.
Egypt already deploys Scud-B and Project-T missiles that can hit Israel, according to the Center for Defense and International Security Studies (CDISS), a British think tank. Cairo is also attempting to acquire hi-tech engines for the North Korean-produced No-Dong missile system.
The No-Dong has a much greater range, up to 800 miles more, than is necessary to hit Israel, said the Stratfor report, adding that the Egyptian military may simply want to station its missiles farther inside its borders and away from potential Israeli air strikes.
“Or the missiles may be meant to counter a future security threat from Libya,” the authors speculated, yet acknowledging that relations between Cairo and Tripoli are good right now.
Besides, “Libya has not been -- and will not become -- a major threat to Egypt. Its population of 5 million supports an army of only 45,000… That's not big, compared with Egypt's 62 million citizens and 320,000 soldiers.
”But Libya does have an arsenal of Scud B and Scud C missiles, both of which can hit Egypt.” – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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