Egypt’s el-Sissi says militias hold Libyan gov’t ‘hostage’

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

CAIRO (AP) — Libya’s U.N.-supported government is held hostage by “armed and terrorist militias” in the capital, Tripoli, Egypt’s leader said Sunday.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in televised comments that the Government of National Accord “is not able to have a free and real will because they have been taken hostage by armed and terrorist militias there.”

The GNA is backed by Egypt’s regional rivals Turkey and Qatar.

El-Sissi said his country has been “negatively affected” by the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Last week, the Egyptian president said a comprehensive political solution would be achieved in the coming months that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

In the chaos that followed Gadhafi’s death, Libya was divided into two parts, a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli and a rival government in the east aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrest control of the capital. He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.

The Libyan commander on Thursday declared a “final” and decisive battle for Tripoli, unleashing heavy clashes on the southern reaches of the city in the past two days against the Tripoli-based militias.

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s U.N.-based government.

Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

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