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Egypt has not supplied arms to Libyan factions: source - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Libyan soldiers stand at the entrance of a damaged empty building that was used by Islamic militias during heavy clashes in Benghazi, Libya, on November 3, 2014  (AP Photo/Mohammed El-Sheikhy)

Libyan soldiers stand at the entrance of a damaged empty building that was used by Islamic militias during heavy clashes in Benghazi, Libya, on November 3, 2014 (AP Photo/Mohammed El-Sheikhy)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Libyan and Egyptian sources speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat have denied reports that Egyptian cargo planes entered Libyan airspace during the past few days to supply armed groups allied to the Tobruk-based government with weapons and ammunition.

A statement on Saturday, from the faction aligned with the rival Libyan government based in Tripoli, said Egyptian planes had been “unloading cargos of weapons and ammunition” on Libyan soil to supply armed tribal groups and groups from Zintan known as the “Qaaqaa Brigades,” loyal to the internationally-recognized parliament based in Tobruk.

Since Libyan Dawn—a loose coalition of armed Islamist groups and fighters—took over the capital from the Qaaqaa Brigades in August, Libya has had two rival parliaments, each backed by different armed groups and different armed factions and militia groups.

Following their takeover of the capital, the Islamist militias reinstated the General National Congress, Libya’s previous Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament dissolved by the renegade army general, Khalifa Haftar, who is allied to the Tobruk parliament and its government led by Prime Minister Thani.

An Egyptian official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, denied the allegations that Cairo sending arms to one of the sides in the chaotic struggle for the control of Libya.

The official claimed that Egyptian planes had not entered Libyan airspace “in any way,” and that Cairo was following a foreign policy of non-interference in the affairs of neighboring countries, “including Libya.”

Meanhwile, a source from the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tobruk led by Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani—who also requested anonymity— accused the Tripoli government and its forces of accepting weapons and ammunition from Turkey and Qatar, saying that Saturday’s allegations were intended to act as a smokescreen to conceal this.

In a move which underlines the growing chaos in the Mediterranean state, the Tobruk-based parliament also refused on Saturday to accept a ruling from Libya’s Supreme Court last week that the law under which the internationally-recognized parliament was elected was unconstitutional.

The head of the Tobruk parliament, Saleh Ageila, criticized the court’s decision in a televised address on Saturday, and said the Tobruk government and parliament were continuing their work as usual despite the ruling.

Echoing information received separately by Asharq Al-Awsat, he said judges at the court had been pressured into making the decision by the Islamist militias in control of Tripoli, where the Supreme Court is based.

“This court is not independent,” he said in the address. “I have seen heavily armed militias inside the court and outside it. Is it right for judges to issue rulings by force of arms?”

Meanwhile, Al-Mabrouk Goreira, the justice minister in the Tobruk government, arrived in Cairo over the weekend for talks with Egyptian officials.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, informed Libyan sources—who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media—said Goreira was meeting representatives from the Egyptian Justice Ministry and judiciary during the visit, in order to receive advice regarding the best way for the Tobruk parliament to respond to the Libyan Supreme Court’s decision.

The unrest in Libya was also compounded on Saturday by the seizure of one of Libya’s oil ports, Hariga, by members of a government security unit, the Petroleum Facilities Guard, in protest over unpaid wages, while clashes continued in the eastern city of Benghazi between Islamist militias and forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar, who is aligned with the Tobruk government.