There has been an increase in the number of accusations directed from Libya that Egypt’s presidential candidate and former defence minister Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is behind a series of attempted coups in the country. Coup attempts led by retired Brigadier General Khalifah Haftar, who has been in hiding since his first effort on 14 February, are under particular scrutiny.
Libyan sources have stressed to Arabi 21 that Al-Sisi’s military intervention in Libya is becoming gradually more evident. They pointed out that Haftar himself stated on a previous occasion that the Egyptian army, under Al-Sisi’s command, had offered to intervene militarily in Libya.
Indeed, various Libyan media did report statements made by Haftar in which he said that the Egyptian army had offered to send troops to the Al-Wadi Al-Ahmar (Red Valley) and Dak regions in order to take over the oil fields in the Al-Hilal (Crescent) region. They are among the most important oil fields in Libya.
The sources explained that Al-Sisi called on the United States to provide support in order to aid Egypt in what he called the “fight against terrorism”. In an interview with Reuters, he said, “Libya, which fell prey to chaos in the aftermath of the downfall of Muammar Al-Gadhafi, does today pose a security threat for Egypt.”
Prior to that Al-Sisi said in the first TV interview he gave after nominating himself for the presidency that a very serious danger emanates from Libya and that he had taken action to confront that danger. He did not divulge the nature of the action.
The pro-Sisi media in Egypt have taken for granted the story told by Haftar regarding the attack that took place on Friday in Benghazi. They reported that Haftar’s troops waged a major, wide-ranging operation aimed at cleansing Benghazi of terrorist groups.
It was also reported that national security personnel from the Musa’id Crossing on the Libyan border with Egypt have declared their support for the so-called Al-Karamah (Dignity) operation led by Haftar. In a statement, the security officers announced their decision to join the brigadier general’s troops and be under his command. They added that many soldiers from the national Libyan army have joined Haftar’s troops as well.
Some of the Egyptian media do not hold back from spreading rumours and false information about the situation in Libya, such as the claim that a large proportion of Libyans support the moves made by Haftar. At the same time, such media reports have cast doubt on the credibility of the chief of staff of the Libyan army by claiming that he sympathises with the Muslim Brotherhood.
It would seem that Al-Sisi’s desire to intervene in Libya and his attempts to influence the unstable situation there is not new. Within this context, British journalist David Hearst said in an article published recently in the Huffington Post that “what Sisi is seeking to do in East Libya threatens all parties without exception.”
Hearst added that Al-Sisi is not content with just requesting the United States to restore its military aid to his country to what it used to be, to enable him to combat the rebellion in the Sinai Peninsula. “He is also asking on top of that for what is no less than a second Western military intervention in the neighbouring country, Libya,” Hearst points out. “The Egyptian army’s motives for intervention in Libya should not be taken lightly.”
The Egyptian media supportive of Al-Sisi do not stop talking about the danger coming from Libya. They have claimed, for example, that the so-called “Egyptian Free Army” is stationed within Libyan territory, despite the fact that this was denied by the official spokesman for the Libyan Joint Chief of Staff, Ali Al-Sheikhi.
The official Bawabat Al-Ahram news outlet had reported previously that this “army” had been deployed along Egypt’s western borders in an attempt to thwart the presidential elections and undermine stability in the country.