CAIRO: The kidnap and killing of seven Egyptians in Libya on Feb. 25 and the shooting of an eighth a week later raised concerns about the threats coming from Egypt’s western borders.
In addition, the arrests of dozens of Egyptians last Thursday by the Libyan authorities sparked criticism in Egypt, including Al-Azhar issuing a statement demanding their release.
Egypt’s former deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Haridy told The Cairo Post on Sunday that the Libyan state needs to establish a strong central government to pave the way for achieving rule of law.
“The extremist groups work to achieve their own agendas. They work to destabilize Egypt since the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi from power after the June 30 demonstrations,” he said.
He added that a number of Egyptian Copts were killed recently on sectarian basis, while others were targeted because of their Egyptian citizenship.
“Such terrorist actions aim to force Egyptians working in Libya to leave the country and consequently pressure the Egyptian economy.”
“On the other hand, they push the Armed Forces to use military force against these groups to pave the way for smearing the military institution,” Haridy said.
Regarding border threats, the former diplomat said that the security of the borders should be a shared responsibility of both countries, as it is difficult for the Libyan authorities in these circumstances to control its borders. He blamed the Egyptian government for not providing border guards with the necessary financial support and equipment to confront the threats faced at the borders.
Libya’s Ambassador to Egypt Mohamed Faez stressed the importance of strong relations between Egypt and Libya, criticizing what he described as media campaigns aiming to undermine these relations.
“Such attempts will not achieve the interests of the two countries,” he told The Cairo Post.
He claimed that Libyan authorities have not targeted Egyptians during the recent security campaigns, but that they arrested a large number of people affiliating with other countries.
Regarding the killing of Egyptian Copts in Libya, the Libyan diplomat said that these “terrorist” actions were committed by groups of criminals and that the authorities exerted their efforts to arrest them. He added that terrorism is a common threat for Egypt and Libya, stressing the need for coordination between the two countries to eliminate this threat.
Faez further said that Libya is keen to cooperate with the Egyptian government to secure the borders to protect the national security of the two countries.
Supervisor of the Public Authority for Egyptians Abroad Mohamed Al-Meneissy agreed with the Libyan diplomat about the negative role performed by the media to undermine relations between the two countries.
Meneissy told The Cairo Post that Libya cannot control a number of areas in the country due to the spread of weapons and the major role performed by extremist groups.
“Egyptians are not the only group that is targeted in the Libyan territories. The extremist groups kidnapped Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and deputy head of Libya’s Intelligence Authority Mustafa Nouh,” he said.
He blamed Egyptians themselves for traveling to Libya, despite the calls from the Foreign Ministry not to do so.
“Even most of the Egyptians living in Libya refuse to return to Egypt despite the critical conditions witnessed there,” Meneissy said.