Egypt’s army, the biggest in Middle East, stands ready amid escalating Libya tensions

Members of the Egyptian army. (File photo: AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered his army on Saturday to stand ready carry out any mission outside the country, if necessary, amid high tensions over Turkey's intervention in Libya, Reuters reported.

Earlier this year, the Global Firepower (GFP) 2020 index ranked the Egyptian army as the strongest in the Middle East region, overtaking the Turkish army.

Al-Sisi's comments come amid worsening conditions in next-door Libya, where Egypt backs the forces of the Libyan National Army in the country's ongoing civil war.

The LNA has recently lost ground to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, backed by Turkey, which has refused to accept the Egyptian-brokered Cairo Initiative ceasefire deal.

On Sunday, Egypt’s foreign minister told Al Arabiya that any threat to Egyptian or Arab security will receive a response.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said Egypt is coordinating with regional and international powers active in Libya, stressing that a “military solution is the last option for Egypt to defend its security.”

“We refuse Turkey’s attempt to expand in Libya,” Shukri told Al Arabiya. “Ankara’s expansion in Syria, Iraq and Libya is in violation of international legitimacy.”

The foreign minister also said that Egypt is coordinating with Tunisia and Algeria and the countries have a “shared vision” for Libya.

“The time has come for serious efforts to stabilize Libya,” Shukri said.

The Egyptian army’s ranking in the GFP 2020 index takes into consideration manpower, airpower, land forces and natural resources in addition to others.

Egypt is ranked 9 out of 138 out of the global countries considered for the annual GFP review, according to its website. Both Egypt and Turkey are considered regional powers, according to the index, in addition to 13 other countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel.

Earlier this month, Egypt called for a ceasefire in Libya as part of an initiative that also proposed an elected leadership council for the country.

While the United States, Russia and the UAE welcomed the plan, Turkey dismissed the proposal.

With Reuters

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Last Update: Sunday, 21 June 2020 KSA 17:16 - GMT 14:16
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