Egypt’s parliament gave President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi the green light for a possible military intervention in Libya by approving the deployment of armed forces abroad to fight “terrorist groups” and “militias,” Reuters reported.
A sharp military escalation in Libya, where fighters led by eastern commander Khalifa Haftar have been battling the forces of the internationally recognized government, could risk igniting a direct conflict among the foreign powers that have poured in weapons and fighters in violation of an arms embargo.
Sisi warned last week that Egypt would not stand idle if there was a threat to national security in Egypt and its western neighbor, Libya.
Egypt, along with the United Arab Emirates and Russia, backs Haftar, who abandoned an offensive on the capital last month after Turkey stepped up support for Tripoli.
Egypt has flown air strikes on suspected militants in Libya since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 plunged the oil producer into chaos.
It has also supported Haftar, an ex-Gaddafi general, since 2014 when he assembled a force in eastern Libya, according to UN reports. But sending ground-combat troops would be a major escalation.
The eastern-based Libyan parliament allied to Haftar asked Cairo this month to intervene militarily to counter Turkey, and its president welcomed Egypt’s move on Monday, a spokesman said.
The Egyptian parliament said on the vote supported by all present MPs that troops would be defending national security on the “strategic western front against the work of armed criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements.”
It did not give details, a time frame or name Libya directly. It also did not mention Turkey.
Shortly before the vote, Sisi and US President Donald Trump spoke by phone.
“The two leaders affirmed the need for immediate de-escalation in Libya, including through a ceasefire and progress on economic and political negotiations,” the White House said in a statement.