Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calls for intervention in Libya

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calls for intervention in Libya
3 min read
17 February, 2015
The Egyptian President calls for a United Nations resolution mandating an international coalition to intervene in Libya after Egyptian jets bombed Islamic State targets there.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has become a key ally of the West against IS. [Anadolu]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday urged the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution allowing for an international military intervention in Libya.

"There is no other choice. Taking into account that the Libyan people must agree that we act to restore security and stability," Sisi said in an interview with French radio Europe 1.

Egypt sent warplanes to bomb IS camps and weapons stores in the Libyan city of Derna hours after the extremists released a gruesome video showing masked men beheading 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, drawing Cairo directly into the conflict across its border. 

The raids were the first time Egypt has announced military action against Islamist targets in its western neighbour, having previously denied it targeted militants there. 

Referring to the 2011 Libyan war in which France was part of a coalition backing forces that deposed former leader Muammar Gaddafi, Sisi called it an "unfinished mission". 

"We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias," he said.

Sisi called on militias to hand in their arms but urged weapons to be supplied to Libya's internationally recognized government, based in the eastern city of Tobruk after rivals seized power in Tripoli. 

The Tobruk government has already asked for the lifting of an international arms embargo to help it take back control of the country. 

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Ambassador to the UK told the that the extremists posed a great threat not only  to his country, but to Europeans.

Nasser Kamel said that Libya was a problem for Europe in particular because of its closeness to Italy and that there would be "boats full of terrorists" if the international community did not act together. 

A key ally of the West 

By targeting the Islamic State group with air strikes in Libya, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, having crushed Islamist opponents at home, has become a key ally of the West against IS, experts say.

 "The air strikes in Libya are an important new factor," said Zack Gold of the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies. 

"Egypt and President Sisi have emerged as a key ally of the West in the fight against IS."  

 Egypt had steered clear of a direct fight with IS outside of the country, although US officials say Cairo previously allowed the United Arab Emirates to use its air bases to bomb Islamists in Libya. 

Sisi has regularly said Cairo is fighting its own "war on terrorism," in the Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamist insurgency has killed scores of policemen and soldiers. 

Officials blame the banned Muslim Brotherhood of president Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by then army chief Sisi in July 2013, for deadly attacks in the country. 

These attacks have been claimed by groups such as IS-linked Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. 

The Brotherhood has been a target of a brutal crackdown overseen by Sisi since Morsi's ouster. 

More than 1,400 people, mostly Morsi supporters, have been killed, thousands imprisoned and hundreds sentenced to death after speedy trials which the United Nations says are "unprecedented in recent history".

Global rights groups have condemned the crackdown against the Brotherhood, which made strong electoral gains after the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak. 

Weeks after police raided two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo on August 14, 2013 at the cost of hundreds of lives, Washington suspended its annual $1.5 billion military aid to Cairo, citing human rights concerns. 

It warmed up to Cairo only in recent months by unfreezing the aid, and it offered Apache helicopters to the Egyptian army to fight militants in Sinai.