Cairo statesman argues for armed action in Libya

Former foreign minister Amr Moussa’s statement builds on fears that Libya’s factional fighting could spill over the border

Two Egyptians workers who fled fighting in Libya arrive at Cairo airport yesterday. Photograph: EPA/Mohamed Assadi

Two Egyptians workers who fled fighting in Libya arrive at Cairo airport yesterday. Photograph: EPA/Mohamed Assadi

 

Egypt should consider the possibility of a military response to the unrest in neighbouring Libya, one of the country’s elder statesmen has argued, prompting speculation in Egyptian media that Cairo is mulling an armed intervention.

Amr Moussa, Egypt’s former foreign minister and former secretary general of the Arab League, said in a statement on Sunday that the current upheaval in Libya, which lies on Egypt’s western border, had major implications for Egyptian national security.

“The situation in Libya is a major concern for Egypt, Libya’s neighbouring countries, and the Arab world at large,” Mr Moussa said. “Statelets, sects and extremist factions in Libya directly threaten Egypt’s national security. I call for a broad public debate to sensitise public opinion to the risks, and to build the necessary support in case we have to exercise our right to self-defence.”

Speculation

“Libya burns, and Egypt approaches a military solution”, read the front page of al-Masry al-Youm, one of the country’s largest private broadsheets.

Not everyone, however, was convinced. “A seasoned politician should know the limits of state intervention in other countries, even if they represent a threat to us,” the security analyst and former army officer Khaled Okasha told al-Watan newspaper.

Mr Moussa’s statement builds on Egyptian fears that factional fighting in Libya, which has forced most western diplomats to flee the country, could spill over the border. Last month, those fears were compounded by the killing of 21 Egyptian soldiers near the border with Libya.

Concerns

The upheaval has strengthened Sisi’s position in Egypt, where his supporters believe strong leadership is the only alternative to the chaos in Libya and Syria, even if it comes at the cost of everyday freedoms. Egypt’s foreign affairs spokesman declined to comment on Mr Moussa’s statement. Another government source said they knew of no immediate plans to intervene in Libya. – (Guardian service)