Egypt to reopen embassy in Libya

EGYPT is planning to reopen its embassy in Libya’s capital for the first time in six years, according to Libyan officials and security sources, marking a shift to a more conciliatory approach to western Libya-based factions.

The planned reopening, which a visiting Egyptian delegation discussed in Tripoli on Monday and Tuesday, comes as a new interim government is set to be formed in the latest U.N.-brokered effort to unite rival camps in east and west Libya.

In recent years Egypt has been one of the most prominent backers of eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) waged a campaign to take control of Tripoli that crumbled in June last year.

Egypt saw Haftar as the best option for securing its border with Libya. Along with the United Arab Emirates, it also supported his stated goal of opposing Islamist-leaning groups and Muslim Brotherhood influence in Libya.

During its visit to Tripoli the Egyptian delegation met the foreign and interior ministers of the outgoing government, which is aligned with the military factions that fought Haftar, according to posts from the Libyan ministries.

The timing of the embassy’s reopening would be determined after the delegation consults with top officials on its return to Egypt, two Egyptian intelligence sources said. The reopening was a first step towards enhanced political, economic and security cooperation with authorities in Tripoli, they said.

Outreach to Tripoli also represents a recalibration of Egypt’s Libya policy after the failure of Haftar’s Tripoli campaign, according to Egyptian intelligence sources and Western diplomats.

Egypt closed its Tripoli embassy in 2014, the year when many foreign missions in the capital shut down amid an escalating conflict that saw rival governments set up in Tripoli and in the east of the sprawling country.

Turkey, a regional rival of Egypt and military backer of Tripoli factions, reopened its embassy in the Libyan capital in 2017.

Thomson Reuters Foundation

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