mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Libya on Fire
Egypt Promises to Train Pro-Government Fighters in Libya

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.

Features Icon
show comments
  • wigwag

    The idea that the Egyptian army is going to train anyone and have it matter is preposterous. These training exercises inevitably fail. Does anyone remember Nixon’s and Kissinger’s exit strategy from Indochina? It was called “Vietnamization” and the idea was that before we left, American troops would train the South Vietnamese army to fight the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. How did that work out?

    Fast forward several decades and our exit strategy from Iraq depended on training the largely Shia Iraqi army. Isn’t the origin of our current problems with ISIS the fact that the Iraqi army that we spent hundreds of millions of dollars to train, ran like frightened school girls at the first sign of a fight? Actually, I take it back; I think I just insulted all the frightened school girls out there.

    The United States is working overtime to export this fantasy all over the world. For example, Obama and his henchmen believe that Israel should place the security of its heartland in the hands of a bunch of Palestinian authority thugs. Why should Israel trust them? Because the thugs were trained by the United States.

    If the United States fails over and over again in its attempt to train foreign fighters to become an effective military force, there is no reason to believe that Egypt will accomplish anything.

    • B-Sabre

      ” Isn’t the origin of our current problems with ISIS the fact that the Iraqi army that we spent hundreds of millions of dollars to train, ran like frightened school girls at the first sign of a fight? ”

      The problem wasn’t the soldiers as much as it was the leadership appointed over them by the Al-Maliki government – the command corps that had been trained and mentored by the US, and fought beside thme thrpough

    • Fred

      In fact, with American air support and resupply, the South Vietnamese beat back the Easter Invasion in 1972. Had the Democrats not cut RVN’s nuts off in the wake of Watergate in 1974, there is a strong possibility Vietnamization would have worked. However, I agree about Egypt and Iraq. Arab armies are not warriors; they are regime-protection thugs. That’s why they generally get their butts kicked when they go up against real soldiers like ours or the Israelis’. I doubt the Iraqis or Egyptians can even take on central casting psychos like ISIS.

  • Arkeygeezer

    You miss the point. The Egyptians are going to settle things down in Lybia, and that is a good thing. We need to stay out of it. Let the locals handle their own problems. We don’t need to meddle in matters that do not concern us.

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