Egypt's Sisi Risks a Quagmire in Libya — and That's not in the US's Best Interest
A mantra in police training is never to pull a gun unless you are prepared to use it. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt has brandished his weapon in Libya, threatening on Sunday to intervene in that country’s east if forces based in the west move past the city of Sirte on the central coast. Sisi is not playing from a position of strength, though. And Libya is far more likely to be a trap for him than a springboard to victory.
Libya has faded from U.S. attention in recent years, and perhaps Egypt even more so. The Middle East’s problems have seemed intractable to many, and not worth any more U.S. lives or dollars. Even if one accepts that argument, a problem for Egypt is still a problem for the United States. Egypt’s population, its geographic location and its cultural weight make it a powerful force in things that Americans care about worldwide, from counterterrorism to nonproliferation. It is no coincidence that both Russia and China are investing in stronger relationships with Egypt.