Turkey testing Egypt in Libya as possible war looms

Turkey is trying Egypt's mettle by designating the rebel-controlled Al-Jufra airbase in Libya as a new military target, a strategic point Cairo has called a “red line” for military intervention, according to a columnist writing for Washington Examiner said on Tuesday.

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 says it will stop the advance after capturing Jufra and Sirte, a key city on the Mediterranean coast, prompting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to threaten direct military intervention.

"The Turkish government is testing Sisi, here, trying to figure out how serious his warnings are," Tom Rogan said.

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 and economic challenges to sustain cross-border military operations, Rogan said.

The two countries are squaring up to each other in the eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a maritime deal that Turkey claims violates its territorial rights.

"Tensions are rising, and neither Turkey nor Egypt seem willing to back down," Rogan said.