Egypt’s Sisi unlikely to battle Turkey in Libya, ex-Israeli envoy says

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is unlikely to engage in a military operation in Libya due to a long list of challenges on several fronts, Itzhak Levanon, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said in an article for the Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has retreated extensively from the northwest of the country after the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) gained the upper hand with Turkey's backing. The GNA has said it would stop the advance after capturing Jufra airbase and Sirte, a key city on the Mediterranean coast, prompting Sisi to threaten direct military intervention.

But a direct intervention by Cairo is unlikely because the government has to deal with issues including the filling of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that threatens water supply to the country, continuing Islamic State activity in the Sinai, and economic challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Levanon said.

"It is therefore unlikely that the Egyptian president will initiate a military adventure in Libya, knowing the political and economic price he would have to pay," he said.

Despite all these challenges, a direct attack by GNA forces on Sirte and Jufra or a visible strengthening of radical Islamists elements in Libya near the Egyptian border could force Sisi to intervene to "save face", Levanon said.