mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Libyan Afterparty
Egypt Wants International Support for Disarming Libyan Militias

Egypt is not sitting idly while neighboring Libya implodes. Its leaders are appealing for international backing for a campaign to “disarm” the Libyan extremists and sanction the countries that supply them with weapons and funds.

In a recent article in al-Monitor, a number of highly ranked Egyptian officials speak in favor of a weapons collection program, which they say other, unspecified neighbors of Libya have also approved. They claim that Egypt has no intention of invading Libya, but rather is waiting for the international community to take the lead in restoring order:

[Maj. Gen. Zakaria] Hussein [a strategy expert and the former head of the Nasser Military Academy] asked: “How can the success of the Egyptian initiative be ensured? Who will ensure the disarmament of militias in the absence of a state in Libya? Who will adopt the law? Egypt will not enter Libya for disarmament purposes. The fact is that in order to succeed, its initiative primarily relies on the existence of international support. The international institutions ought to play their role in order to restore the needed stability to Libyan territories.”

The assistant foreign minister for neighboring countries, Ambassador Mohammad Badr al-Din Zayed, told Al-Monitor in a telephone interview, “Cairo is awaiting the issuance of international resolutions as well as actual steps to legitimize the Egyptian initiative.”

He added, “We welcome the draft resolution issued by the UN on Libya, but we find it insufficient as there needs to be concrete steps to dry up the sources of terrorism, and all the institutions of the international community have to start activating the initiative aimed at disarming the militias in Libya.”

Zayed added that Egypt has no wish to disarm the tribes in Libya that are “striving for stability,” but only those extremists who are accelerating the country’s collapse. However, al-Monitor notes, Egypt’s Foreign Minister has warned that Egypt cannot rule out an “intervention,” though he did not say what that intervention might look like.

Egypt looks set to act in Libya because it is simply too dangerous not to, as Libya continues to disintegrate and send ripples of chaos in all directions. However, Egypt’s insistence that it had no part in the airstrikes against Libya late last month, its appeal to international backers, and its careful approach to Libya’s tribes all indicate a country that is getting its ducks in a row, and taking care to keep on the good side of people it might need. How or when Egypt will act regarding Libya remains to be seen, as does the implementation (let alone success) of an internationally backed disarmament program. But there is no doubt that Egypt is readying itself.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    It is highly possible that Egypt is testing the possibility of annexing Libya and it’s oil that isn’t flowing anymore. This would serve to stabilize Egypt’s poor financial position, and probably looks very enticing to Egypt and it’s Saudi backers. It is an Authoritarian country and Obama’s weakness is encouraging all of them (Russia, China, Syria, Iran, N. Korea, etc…) into strategic overreach.

    • Andrew Allison

      Opportunity knocks, or should it be Nature abhors a vacuum? Egypt apparently recognizes that a tribal country is a tribal country. Whether some semblance of central government control can be re-established is an altogether different matter. The same is true of Iraq and Syria.

    • lukelea

      My first thought exactly.

    • qet

      Given that Libya is not going to re-constitute itself politically solely from within, solely from the efforts of some [non-existent] class of native democrat Founder types who will use Reason and Discourse to re-knit the country’s warring factions together, what, exactly, is wrong with Egypt controlling it or even annexing it, if that means the shooting stops? Would it be better for the US and/or The World if it were Iran? Saudi Arabia? Qatar? A “UN Peacekeeping Force”? [the quotes are to indicate the fantastic, unreal nature of such a concept].

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service