Libya’s GNA calls al-Sisi’s remarks on defending Egypt a ‘declaration of war’

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. (File photo: Reuters)

Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA)’s Presidential Council said that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s comments that Egypt will defend its national interests were a “declaration of war.”

“This is a hostile act, direct interference and amounts to a declaration of war,” the Tripoli-based GNA said in a statement, which was rejected by Egypt shortly after.

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The statement comes in response to al-Sisi ordering the Egyptian army to be ready to intervene in Libya, where the Turkish-backed GNA took key ground against the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army (LNA) last week.

“We won’t allow al-Sisi to use the language of threats against the Libyan people. The red lines are drawn by the blood of the martyrs in Libya and we as the legitimate government decide the place and time of our military operations on Libyan soil,” said the GNA.

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on June 6, 2020 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C), Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar (R) and the Libyan Parliament speaker Aguila Saleh arriving for a joint press conference in the capital Cairo.  (AFP)

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on June 6, 2020 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C), Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar (R) and the Libyan Parliament speaker Aguila Saleh arriving for a joint press conference in the capital Cairo. (AFP)

An Egyptian foreign ministry official rejected the GNA’s statement on Sunday, saying that the GNA should “realize its size” in relation to Egypt.

“They must realize the truth of their size inside Libya and be aware of who they’re talking to. Egypt exhibits a lot of patience, but it will be extremely firm in the face of any transgression or an attempt to infringe on its national interests and security,” the source said according to state news agency MENA.

President al-Sisi previously said that Egypt wants peace in Libya.

“The Egyptian army is one of the strongest armies in the region, but it is a rational army ... that protects and does not threaten... and is able to defend Egypt’s national security inside and outside the borders of the homeland,” he said.

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The GNA has rejected the Cairo Initiative, a ceasefire brokered by President al-Sisi, and refused to attend Arab League crisis talks.

GNA forces now appear poised to launch an attack on the strategic city of Sirte and the al-Jufra air base, a key “red line” that Egypt has said is central to its national security.

Egyptian 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.”

Read more: Haftar forces need to pull out from Sirte for Libya ceasefire, says Turkey

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Last Update: Monday, 22 June 2020 KSA 11:18 - GMT 08:18
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