Gamal Hilal: Any Egyptian Military Move in Libya is a Defense of Egypt’s Security – Al Marsad

Veteran Egyptian Interpreter, diplomat and former adviser to the US White House, Gamal Hilal, said that any Egyptian military move in Libya will not be an external war but rather a defense of Egypt’s national security and that the Egyptian military is wise enough to manage the crisis and not be spurred by any provocations. He said that the US sees Libya as a primarily European problem.

“The Trump administration has looked at it [Libya] from a distance until April 2019. The US, like other countries, recognized the Government of National Accord (GNA) and supported the Skhirat agreement, until it became clear that the GNA is not working in the best interests of Libya but rather truckling to Turkey” — Gamal Hilal

(Libya, 28 June 2020) – Gamal Hilal, who worked for five American Presidents and various Secretaries of State., said in an interview with al-Masry al-Yawm newspaper on Sunday, that the US in general, whether the Trump administration or other previous administrations, did not see Libya as a US strategic interest to engage there.

He added that the US views Libya and the Mediterranean basin in general, save Egypt and Israel, as European problems which Europe should deal with because the real threat is against Europe in the form of illegal immigration or the travel of terrorists. “Obama and his predecessors have always viewed Libya in this perspective. The Libyan-American relations have been limited to the Lockerbie case, the Libyan nuclear program, and what happened in the Arab Spring,” added Hilal.

“Now, the Trump administration has looked at it from a distance until April 2019. The US, like other countries, recognized the Government of National Accord (GNA) and supported the Skhirat agreement, until it became clear that the GNA is not working in the best interests of Libya but rather truckling to Turkey,” indicated Hilal.

“In April 2019, Trump called Field Marshal Haftar for nearly two hours and was understood to be a green light for him that if he could free all Libyan soil, including Tripoli, he would become the reality on the ground. However, he did not make this progress. Usually, any green light or tacit approval by the US is conditional on a specific time period and not infinite. I think the Libyan side did not understand this issue.”

He continued, “We must realize that it is among the principles that Trump and his administration have focused on is that he totally rejects that the US should play any role as the world’s policeman and use its armed forces only in the event of a direct threat.”

As for the media reports on the possibility of sanctions on the conflicting parties in Libya by the US, Hilal said: “The US can do that and impose sanctions. Washington used this method when it does not want to intervene more militarily or politically in a country.”

As for the reason behind the entry of elements in the Libyan equation, he referred to the aging European role and Trump’s tacit support of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in the phone call. “However, he [Trump] will not provide any kind of military support. The US has left the matter to Haftar’s friends and this created a void. Therefore, we saw Russia play a role as well as Turkey. The US was hoping that the Europeans would fill this void and settle the battle because they are at risk if Libya falls in the hands of Erdogan,” asserted Hilal.

He added: “However, it is possible that the US plays a greater political role because it does not want to see two of its allies in a state of war, namely Egypt and Turkey. Perhaps there is an area for AFRICOM to play a role if there is a political desire, but so far I do not think there is a clear US or European threat to Erdogan not to interfere or penetrate into Libya.”

He pointed out that war is the last step to which states resort, and there is no country that wants to start with a military solution. He asserted that Egypt has long experience in wars over the past five decades, and the Egyptian military knows exactly what it means to enter a war and to transform its economy into a long war economy.
He continued: “Historically and traditionally, the Egyptian army does not fight outside its borders. We saw this only in the Yemen war in the early 1960s, and this was counterproductive to the Egyptian army as the Vietnam War for the US army. Therefore, there is extreme concern from the Egyptian military not to let its forces drown in another catastrophic war.”

Gamal Hilal concluded by saying: “The situation in Libya is not another war, but a defense of Egyptian national security. It is a situation of ‘have to’ not ‘may’. The Egyptian military establishment has extraordinary wisdom and no provocations can mislead. It enjoys provocative wisdom even for the Egyptian people themselves.”

© Al Marsad English (2020)