The speakers of the Egyptian and Libyan parliaments warned on Sunday that Cairo may resort to “military intervention” to counter Turkey’s potential “invasion” of neighboring Libya.
Egypt’s Speaker Ali Abdul Aaal declared before parliament that his country “does not prioritize military solutions over political ones,” but it could be left with no choice if its national security is violated.
Libya’s parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh was present at the parliament meeting in Cairo where he denounced the international community for “abandoning the Libyan people halfway in their pursuit of a democratic civilian state.”
This left the people prey to terrorism and threats from the ISIS group, he added.
“Libya is not appealing for aid from anyone, but it is warning against the new impending Ottoman Turkish madness. This is a desperate attempt by a fascist dictatorial regime that has been ruthless against the Turks, Arabs, Kurds and others,” continued Saleh.
He also slammed the security and maritime cooperation deals signed between Ankara and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. The agreements are null and void because they were not approved by parliament, he stated.
“The Libyan people and their national army have the right to combat terrorism and defend their nation against the Turkish invasion,” he vowed.
He told Egypt’s parliament to oppose Turkey’s moves, “otherwise we might be compelled to invite the Egyptian armed forces to intervene”.
For his part, Abul Aal said Cairo had previously invited Libyan leaders, including GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj, to propose a peaceful solution to their crisis. Some of their leaders, starting with Sarraj, have, however, been overpowered by terrorist groups in Tripoli.
Sarraj then turned to Turkey, which is stirring trouble in the region, said Abdul Aal. “We hope this crisis would be resolved and for all parties to return to reason.”
Saleh and Abdul Aal’s remarks coincided with an Egyptian naval drill in the Mediterranean. The exercise focused on countering a hostile invasion in coordination with naval and land forces, the border guard and special forces. This was the second such drill in almost a week.
The Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Haftar, and the GNA had declared a ceasefire last week, halting an advance by the military on Tripoli. The truce was declared ahead of an international conference on Libya, scheduled for Berlin at the end of the month.
The fragile ceasefire was agreed amid international and regional pressure and after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul last week.
Violations were, however, reported from both sides.
“The (GNA) militias violated the truce on more than one battlefront, with all types of weapons,” said LNA commander Al-Mabrouk Al-Gazawi.
The GNA said that despite gunfire in the Salaheddin and Wadi Rabea areas “minutes” after the ceasefire was meant to start at 0001 am on Sunday (Saturday 2201 GMT), and violations by “the aggressor militias”, it renewed its commitment to the ceasefire.
The LNA has said it still intends to rid Tripoli or its armed rivals.
Tensions have been high after Turkey’s parliament authorized the deployment of troops to Libya, following a deal with the GNA on sending military experts and weapons signed into law in December.
The GNA and Turkey signed security and maritime agreements in November last year, angering Mediterranean countries including Greece and Cyprus who also seek to exploit energy resources in the region.
The deals have alarmed Mediterranean and Arab countries and the United Nations, which have slammed Ankara’s meddling in Libya and warned that its intervention may escalate the situation in the already unstable country.