Egypt's President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi
Egypt's President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sissi has warned against attempts “to control” neighbouring Libya, state media reported Tuesday, as tensions grow over Turkey’s expanding ties with the Tripoli-based government.

Sissi’s remarks come after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed readiness to send troops to Libya if requested by the country’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Erdogan, who supports the GNA, met with its head Fayez Al Sarraj in Istanbul on Sunday, after the two countries signed maritime and military deals last month.

Egypt’s foreign ministry has lambasted the agreements as “illegitimate”.

On Tuesday, state-run newspaper Al Ahram quoted Al Sissi as telling journalists the previous evening: “We will not allow anyone to control Libya ... it is a matter of Egyptian national security”.

Libya has been riven by turmoil and division since a Nato-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

It has since been split between rival administrations vying for power in the east and the west.

While Turkey and Qatar support the GNA, Egypt backs strongman Khalifa Haftar who controls eastern Libya and has been battling since April to seize Tripoli.

Al Sissi was quoted by the privately owned Al Shorouk newspaper as saying that Egypt “will not abandon (Haftar’s) Libyan National Army”.

Cairo’s relations with Ankara and Doha have been fraught with tensions since Al Sissi led the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohammad Morsi, whom Turkey and Qatar supported.

Al Sissi reportedly addressed the bitter rift with Qatar in his remarks Monday, saying the oil-rich country has yet to meet the demands of Arab countries boycotting Doha.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut all diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017 over allegations that it backs radical Islamists and seeks closer ties with Saudi arch rival Iran.