Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 September 2020

Gulf states rally behind Egypt over call to secure borders with Libya

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi says Cairo has right to defend itself from 'direct threats' across Libyan frontier

Special Forces from the Libyan National Army in the city of Benghazi. AFP
Special Forces from the Libyan National Army in the city of Benghazi. AFP

Arabian Gulf states have rallied behind Egypt after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said he was prepared to order a military intervention in Libya to preserve national security.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain on Sunday issued statements in support of Egypt's security and sovereignty, backing Mr El Sisi.

At an airbase near the Libyan border on Saturday, he said Cairo had the right to defend itself after receiving "direct threats" from "terrorist militias and mercenaries" supported by foreign countries.

It was a reference to some armed groups loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord and supported by Turkey.

The main aims of any intervention would include protecting Egypt's 1,200-kilometre western border, helping to achieve a ceasefire and restoring stability and peace in Libya, Mr El Sisi said.

The show of solidarity from allied countries was praised by the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash.

"The great Arab support in Abdel Fattah El Sisi's speech about Libya is a clear indication that the Arab world refuses the subjugation of its sovereignty and borders by the regional countries," Dr Gargash tweeted.

"The Arab world's current weakness is serious but the principled positions calling for balanced relations, stability and sovereignty will remain firm."

On Sunday, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said it stood in solidarity with Egypt "in all measures taken to safeguard its security against alarming developments taking place in the brotherly state of Libya".

The ministry praised recent efforts by Mr El Sisi to start political talks with a proposed road map referred to as the Cairo Declaration.

While the US, Russia and the UAE welcomed the plan, Turkey and the GNA dismissed it.

The UAE repeated calls for an immediate ceasefire in Libya, where fighting has escalated between the GNA in Tripoli and the Libyan National Army supported by the rival House of Representatives in the country's east.

"The UAE commended the determination of Cairo to spare the blood of the Libyan people and pave the way to initiate a comprehensive political process under the auspices of the UN, according to the Berlin Conference on Libya and in implementation of the Cairo Declaration," the ministry said.

The declaration "calls for the disbandment of militias and relinquishment of their weapons, in addition to putting an end to foreign interference and stopping foreign support for extremist forces in Libya", it said.

The UN-led attempts to build political dialogue at recent meetings in Berlin include a military committee from both sides working towards a framework to allow the start of talks.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry said the safety and security of Egypt was vital to the safety and security of the kingdom and of Arab states.

""And the kingdom stands with Egypt in its right to defend its borders and people from extremist tendencies and terrorist militias and their supporters in the region," the ministry said.

Bahrain commended Mr El Sisi's speech.

It expressed its support for "the president's affirmation of Egypt's determination to protect and secure its western borders with their strategic depth from the threats of the terrorist militia and mercenaries", Manama said.

It also supported Cairo's attempts "to restore security and stability in Libya as an integral part of Egypt's security and stability and Arab national security, and to stop the bloodshed of the Libyan people".

It said that Bahrain stood ready to help and support Cairo in all measures to preserve stability in Libya.

Updated: June 22, 2020 12:55 AM

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