• Libya: Egypt threatens to intervene militarily in the Libyan powder keg
  • Maghreb: Marshal Khalifa Haftar's forces suffer heavy defeat in western Libya

Egyptian President Abdelfatah al Sisi demanded a mandate to intervene militarily in Libya and the country's Parliament, after a closed session, was granted it late Monday. The plan to send troops to the neighboring country on the grounds of "defending national security" threatens to exacerbate the Libyan chaos, now turned into the backyard of the quarrels facing Egypt and Turkey.

"The armed forces and their leadership have a legal and constitutional license to decide the time and place of their response against these threats," outlines the text unanimously supported by the 510 deputies present who do not explicitly mention the neighboring country and who, instead , refers to "armed and criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements" in allusion to the mercenaries sent by Ankara in support of the internationally recognized Tripoli National Accord Government and its campaign to seize control of Sirte.

The Egyptian regime has raised the tone of war since the 14-month siege of Tripoli by troops of Khalifa Haftar , the marshal who heads the Libyan National Army backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, ended in fiasco. Since then, Cairo has threatened to cross the border if Tripoli Executive forces rush to conquer Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi's hometown and exit gate for oil, and Jufra, the district where the main military base of Haftar. Al Sisi, in a public event held last month, labeled both enclaves as "red lines".

The authorization of the Egyptian Chamber, with 596 seats, specifies that the mandate will remain in force until the military mission is completed. The Egyptian constitution states that the president, as the supreme commander of the armed forces, cannot declare war or deploy troops abroad without consulting the National Defense Council and having the support of two-thirds of Parliament.

Before the debate began, the President of Parliament Ali Abdelal has asked the media to leave the room and asked their lordships to respect the secrecy of the deliberations, in the middle of a succession of hurried events that face Cairo and Ankara, two close partners of the United States. In a phone call held this Monday, Al Sisi and Donald Trump have agreed on the need to maintain the ceasefire in Libya and avoid an escalation.

This Sunday, the Egyptian president gathered the National Defense Council to discuss his plans regarding Gaddafi's homeland, devastated by years of civil war. "Egypt will spare no effort to support its sister country in overcoming the current serious crisis," Al Sisi promised in a statement after the meeting forwarded to this newspaper. The note, however, underlines "the commitment to a political solution as a way to end the Libyan crisis." "This solution should maintain the sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity of the Libyan state, restore the pillars of its institutions, eliminate terrorism and prevent chaos from spreading to criminal groups and extremist militias."

Last Thursday Al Sisi chaired a meeting of tribal leaders in eastern Libya, widely publicized by the local media. "Egypt will not stand idly by in the face of movements that pose a direct threat to its security," he repeated after insisting on the need to form an army in which the Libyan tribes are integrated, confirming that he has amortized Haftar. . Days earlier, the Libyan Parliament - based in the eastern city of Tobruk - also called for Egyptian military intervention.

"At the moment all the movements seem to obey a tactical game but everything can change rapidly depending on the situation in Sirte and YouFra," an expert in the Egyptian armed forces who demands anonymity tells EL MUNDO. "They are providing the appearance of a process as the negotiations take place behind the scenes," explains the analyst. "If there is finally agreement on the red lines in Egypt, it can be used for de-escalation. If they do not bear fruit, then the vote of Parliament will be used to justify the intervention," he adds.

This Monday there have also been movements on the rival side. The Qatari Defense Minister of State has met with his Turkish counterpart and Libya's Interior Minister to discuss the latest developments in the Mediterranean country.

The drums of war in a country split in two whose population has been trapped for years in trenches and power struggles worry the UN, alarmed by the transit of mercenaries and weapons from both sides. The acting head of the mission in the country, Stephanie Williams , demanded on Monday "an immediate cessation of hostilities to protect 125,000 civilians who are still in danger and end the flagrant violations of the UN arms embargo."

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