Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi Saturday ordered his army to be ready to carry out any mission inside or outside the country to protect its national security as tensions rise over Turkey’s backing of the U.N.-recognized Libyan government.
Turkey supports the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which, with Turkish support, has reversed a 14-month assault on the capital by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
The LNA is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
El-Sissi on Saturday toured an air base near Egypt’s 1,200 kilometer-long western border with Libya, where state TV showed him watching fighter jets and helicopters taking off.
“Be prepared to carry out any mission, here inside our borders – or if necessary, outside our borders,” he told several air force pilots and special forces personnel at the base.
He said the Egyptian army was “one of the strongest in the region.”
“It is a rational army; an army that protects and does not threaten … this is our strategy, our beliefs and our principles that we will never change,” el-Sissi added.
Earlier this month, Egypt called for a cease-fire in Libya as part of an initiative that also proposed an elected leadership council for the country.
The United States, Russia and the UAE welcomed the plan. Germany said U.N.-backed talks were key to the peace process.
However, Turkey dismissed the proposal as an attempt to save Haftar following the losses he has suffered on the battlefield.