Egypt has taken another step to subdue the chaos in Libya—not by putting new boots on the ground, but by offering to train the boots already there. Reuters reports that Egypt has offered to provide training to forces fighting for the government:
Egyptian military officials and representatives of pro-government Libyan forces have met several times over the past two months in Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Marsa Matrouh, Egyptian security officials said.An intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “intelligence and training” assistance were on the table. The Egyptian government spokesman declined comment, but Ahmad Buzeyad Al-Missmari, spokesman of the Libyan General Chief of Staff, confirmed Egypt had offered training for troops. […]“Egypt has more intelligence on where they (the Libyan-based militants) are, how many there are, what kinds of weapons they had available,” the intelligence official said.
Egypt is skittish about Islamist activity just over its border in the city of Derna. To allay its fears, it has offered to help Libya’s renegade General Haftar fight them. But that aid still only extends to intelligence and training (officially); Reuters’s source says that Egypt will not supply weaponry:
An Egyptian national security official who spoke to Reuters said the country would not give arms. “Weapons in Libya are like rice,” he said, suggesting they were already abundant.Some of those weapons are smuggled across the border and end up in the hands of Ansar fighters, security officials say. “Security forces are catching smugglers everyday,” said the national security official.Others come from dealers in Sudan who place them on boats that travel the Nile then unload in Egyptian towns, the officials said.“Militants are paying for these weapons, for example, by robbing armored cars going from Cairo to banks in Alexandia and Sharm al-Sheikh,” the national security official said.
The Libyan meltdown has turned into a proxy war between Qatar and its allies on one side and the UAE and Egypt on the other. The U.S. has accused Egypt and the UAE of being behind the airstrikes against the Libyan militants at the end of August. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Egypt and its allies become even more involved in Libya over time.As Reuters notes, the country isn’t just worried about the security of its border with Libya. All the Islamists who have a beef with Egypt are now reportedly talking to each other; the militants in the Sinai have made contact both with ISIS and the Libyan Islamists. Coupled with the enormous amount of arms being smuggled through Libya, that’s enough to make any government nervous.