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Libyan Parliament Speaker Calls for Peace Talks, Despite Giving Egypt Green Light to Intervene Militarily

FILE - Aguila Saleh, Libya's parliament president, speaks during the first session at parliament headquarters in Benghazi, Libya, April 13, 2019.
FILE - Aguila Saleh, Libya's parliament president, speaks during the first session at parliament headquarters in Benghazi, Libya, April 13, 2019.

As tensions between Libya's two rival governments and their international backers continue to worsen, the eastern Libya-based parliament has authorized Egypt to intervene militarily if the security of either country is threatened. At the same time, the speaker of the eastern parliament is calling for the U.N. to continue its mediation efforts.

Arab media broadcast video of Syrian militia fighters training near the Libyan capital Tripoli, amid claims that Turkey has sent more mercenaries to Libya to support the UN-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj.

Libya's eastern-based parliament issued a statement late Monday authorizing Egypt - which supports the rival government of Abdallah al Thini in Beida - to intervene militarily if necessary, due to what it called "Turkey's blatant intervention in Libya and breaching of the country's sovereignty."

Libyan parliament spokesman Abdallah Bleihaq, on a visit to Cairo Monday, thanked Egypt for helping his country. He said he expressed his gratitude to the Egyptian parliament for its support for Libya's security and stability in all areas, given that the security of both countries are intertwined and that ties between them are longstanding.

Despite the eastern Libyan parliament's authorization of a potential Egyptian military intervention in Libya – in the event either country's security is threatened - parliament speaker Aguila Saleh told Arab media that he has asked the U.N. to continue mediating in the Libya conflict.

He said that during his recent visit several days ago to the U.N. in Geneva, he asked deputy U.N. envoy Stephanie Williams to continue efforts to find a solution to the Libyan conflict that suits each side and coincides with previous talks in Cairo and Berlin.

Egyptian General Mahmoud Zaher told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV he thinks "Turkey is playing a game of nerves with Egypt (in Libya)," and that ultimately, Ankara's goal is to "cause the division of the country."

Libyan analyst Aya Burweila, a visiting lecturer on security and terrorism at the Hellenic National Defense College in Greece told VOA she thinks the Libyan parliament's authorization for Egypt to intervene should "make it nearly impossible for Turkey and its Syrian proxies to capture (Libya's strategic) oil crescent."

She called the conflict "an existential crisis" for both Egypt and Libya, since "neither can allow Libya to become a failed state," exploited by what she calls Turkish "political and military proxies, which include militant jihadists and organized crime networks."

Paul Sullivan, a professor at the U.S. National Defense University, told VOA, however, that he worries the Libyan parliament's declaration "could lead to a conflict," because "mistakes are made when things are this heated." He also questioned if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might not take the warning "as a challenge."

Turkey, inspired largely by its energy interests in Libya, has been boosting its role in the Libyan conflict, saying it is doing so in support of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. Its expanding role is also raising concerns of what analysts say could be the start of a proxy war.