Sirte and Al Jufra: Egypt's 'Red Line' in Libya

Published June 28th, 2020 - 06:02 GMT
Sisi said that the army should be ready to carry out missions inside or outside the country to ensure Egypt's national security. The Sirte - Al-Jufta line is considered to be the "red line" for him.
Sirte and Libyan flag-Shutterstock
Highlights
Sisi said that the army should be ready to carry out missions inside or outside the country to ensure Egypt's national security. The Sirte - Al-Jufta line is considered to be the "red line" for him.

By Dr. Rene Tebel

The positions in Libya are hardened. The government in Tripoli and its Turkish supporters insist on the capture of the strategically important port city of Sirte and the Al Jufra airbase as a precondition for ceasefire talks, the Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın affirmed on Thursday.

This would open the western gate to the "oil crescent" for the Libyan government, where about 60 percent of Libyan oil fields are located. It would also put the ports of Sidra, Ras Lanuf, Brega and Zuwaytinah within easy reach, where, according to Al-Monitor, eleven oil- and three gas pipelines are reaching the Mediterranean. The capture of the important Al Jufra airbase, in turn, would allow the Tripoli government to expand its power in the south of the country and break Haftar's influence in large parts of Libya.


Knowing this, the Sirte - Al Jufra line forms a "red line." In the "Cairo Declaration" (Saturday, 6 June 2020) Egypt, General Haftar and the parliament in Tobruk called for a political solution and a ceasefire. The initiative was supported by the USA immediately and by the majority of the participants of a video conference of the Arab League, which took place last Tuesday.

The Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi also addressed more forceful words to the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and its Turkish supporters. In a speech last Saturday, El-Sisi said that the army should be ready to carry out missions inside or outside the country to ensure Egypt's national security. The Sirte - Al-Jufta line is considered to be the "red line" for him.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV on Sunday, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry relativized the statements of his president by saying that a military action by Cairo was only the "last option to preserve its security", as Ahramonline mentioned.  Nevertheless, Egypt is demonstrating its determination. According to
media reports, Egyptian F-16 fighter planes and an Airbus A330 MRTT tanker plane of the United Arab Emirates Air Force had entered Libyan airspace as recently as Wednesday.

Egypt and Libya share a 1,200 kilometre long border. Cairo has little joy at the thought that extremist and Islamist militias could infiltrate the western border or that a success of the GNA could give a boost to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
However, Egypt must beware of being drawn into a war in Libya prematurely. The situation with its Ethiopian neighbor is too contentious because of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.

This article was republished with the permission of  Tebel Report

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba News.


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