The Egyptian parliament has approved the deployment of armed forces abroad to fight “terrorist groups” and “criminal militias.” The move comes amid repeated threats from Cairo to openly intervene in the Libyan conflict.
The deployment of troops to the “strategic western front” was greenlighted by the country’s legislators on Monday. The military would be used to protect national security and battle “terrorist groups” and “criminal militias,” the legislators said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi and his US counterpart Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on the need to maintain a ceasefire in Libya and to avoid an escalation between the forces fighting there, the presidency in Cairo said.
The parliament’s approval did not give any time frame or explicitly mention any country in particular where the troops could be deployed. However, the situation on Egypt’s “western front” – in Libya – has been especially explosive lately.
The neighboring North African country has been locked in a perpetual war since its leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and brutally slain during a NATO-backed uprising back in 2011. Since then, two major rivaling forces have emerged: the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
While the LNA and GNA have been locked in a standoff for months, the situation began changing after Turkey openly sided with the GNA. Ankara signed security and maritime agreements with the Tripoli-based government last year and has propped it up with military specialists and hardware since.
Turkey’s support helped the GNA to push Haftar’s forces away from Tripoli, greatly expanding its zone of control and even threatening to capture the strategic port city of Sirte. The GNA’s offensive has angered foreign supporters of the LNA, with Egypt’s Sisi even mulling military intervention to stop the GNA’s advance. Ankara, for its part, has urged all foreign powers to stop helping “putschist Haftar,” insisting that it supports the internationally-recognized government only to ensure “peace, tranquility, security and territorial integrity” of Libya.