Threat of Terrorists, Migrants, Drugs Worries Libya’s Neighbors
As efforts to reach a long-term agreement for Libya’s crisis continue to stumble, its neighboring countries are worried that the ongoing instability will spill over across their borders. Experts from Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria have expressed their concern over the threat of terrorists, migrants and drugs spreading into their countries from Libya.
Security expert and member of Egypt’s higher counter-terrorism council, Khaled Akasha said Cairo was working tirelessly to confront ongoing Turkish attempts to “replicate the Syrian tragedy in Libya.”
“This threatens neighboring countries, starting with Egypt that shares a 1,250 kilometer border with Libya,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, citing local authorities’ busting of numerous attempts by terrorists to infiltrate Egypt.
The chaos in Libya has driven Cairo to seek a political solution that would see the unification of military and security institutions that will allow them secure the country’s borders and combat terrorist groups on its territories, he added.
Commenting on pro-Turkey mercenaries that had arrived in Libya from Syria, he said that the majority of them are members of terrorist groups. They join the militias in Libya that support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, Akasha said.
Sending the mercenaries to Libya has relieved Ankara from the burden of their presence in Syria, he noted.
In November, Egypt sentenced notorious terrorist and former Egyptian officer Hisham al-Ashmawy to death for his failed attempt to assassinate a former interior minister. The suspect was detained by the Libyan National Army and handed over to Cairo. He was also wanted for leading a terrorist group that carried out attacks in western Egypt before fleeing to Libya.
Academic and strategic affairs researcher, Alieh al-Allani said Tunisia was most concerned with the spike in the flow of migrants should battles intensify in Libya, which will compound Tunis’ economic woes.
He explained that Tunisia was a transit point for many migrants as they embark on their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that Tunisia had hosted back in 2011 tens of thousands of Libyans. “We do not regret this, but with the current living conditions in Tunisia, a new flow of migrants will impose a major burden on state institutions and resources.”
He revealed that the Tunisians were concerned that migrants would seize job opportunities and that many among them may have been members of terrorist groups in Libya.
Algeria shares Egypt and Tunisia’s concerns. Its worries are also compounded by arms and drugs smuggling from Libya.
MP Ahmed Saddouq told Asharq Al-Awsat that Libya is a strategic partner for Algeria and therefore “any chaos there will inevitably negatively impact Algeria.”
Algeria rejects any foreign meddling in Libya and stresses the need to reach a political solution that should be negotiated by the Libyan parties alone, he stated. The role of the regional and international community should be restricted to helping them arrive to a solution.