Egypt offers military training to Libya, citing ISIL threat
CAIRO - Reuters
A fighter from Libya’s Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) militia takes up a position. AFP PhotoEgypt has offered to train pro-government forces battling rival armed groups in Libya, stepping up efforts to eradicate what it says is a threat to its own stability from the anarchy engulfing its neighbor.
The offer was the latest sign of intervention by competing Arab powers in Libya - a haven for Islamist militants and close to becoming a failed state - while Western governments are preoccupied with Iraq and Syria.
Egypt is trying to reassert its regional authority on its own terms while also winning back the U.S. military aid suspended after Cairo cracked down on the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
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.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has called for decisive action against militants based in Libya, who Egypt says sneak across the border to help Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis jihadists attack Egyptian security forces in its Sinai desert near Israel.
Egyptian security officials have said Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis – the country’s most dangerous militant group – has contacts with al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now targeted by U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria after it swept through Iraq, executing those who did not declare allegiance.