Situation in Libya discussed by US president, Abu Dhabi crown prince

Regional security issues raised during phone call Tuesday by Trump, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed

Wednesday 22/07/2020
A January 2018 file picture shows President Donald Trump shakiing hands with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, during a meeting at the White House in Washington. (AP)
A January 2018 file picture shows President Donald Trump shakiing hands with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, during a meeting at the White House in Washington. (AP)

WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan discussed regional security issues, including the “importance of situation in Libya through the removal of foreign forces” during a phone call on Tuesday, the White House said.

The UAE, alongside other Arab countries, has been calling for a ceasefire between the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The UAE is also against Turkish intervention in the North African country, especially after reports showed Ankara deployed thousands of mercenaries to the conflict zone and sent military equipment to support Islamist militias loyal to the GNA.

Trump’s call with the UAE crown prince comes after a similar call on Monday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, during which Washington and Cairo agreed that a ceasefire is needed in Libya to avoid escalation.

Sisi and Trump spoke ahead of the Egyptian parliament’s move to approve Egyptian military intervention in Libya if Egypt were to be threatened by “terrorist groups” and “militias.”

During the call, “the two leaders affirmed the need for immediate de-escalation in Libya, including through a ceasefire and progress on economic and political negotiations,” the White House said.

It added that Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron by phone that the conflict “has been exacerbated by the presence of foreign forces and arms.”

“There is no military solution to the current crisis in Libya and there must be an immediate ceasefire,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric had earlier said.

Egypt is concerned about instability in Libya and Turkey’s support for the GNA and other Islamist militias.

In recent days, GNA forces have moved closer to the coastal city of Sirte, which they hope to recapture from Haftar’s LNA.

In response to GNA military advances, Sisi has declared Sirte, the gateway to oil export ports, a red line for Egypt.

The head of the defence committee in the eastern Libyan House of Representatives, Talal Al Mayhoub, said the parliamentary approval was the first step towards activating an Egyptian-Libyan defence pact.

The House of Representatives has already voted to allow Egyptian intervention if requested.

Last week, Sisi said that Egypt would not stand idle in the face of threats to Egyptian and Libyan security, and that any intervention in Libya would require the approval of parliament.

Turkish military support for the Tripoli administration has contributed to the LNA falling back in its 14-month offensive on Tripoli, a setback for Haftar’s plan to unify Libya.

A big escalation in Libya could risk igniting a direct conflict among foreign powers, which have poured in weapons and fighters in breach of an arms embargo.