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Egypt Seeks to Advance Policy in Libya

On June 6, 2020, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi announced an initiative to end nearly a decade of violence in Libya. The plan has been accepted by Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), and Agila Saleh, the chief of Libya’s elected parliament. However, Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj has rejected the offer, and reportedly ordered GNA forces to continue their push towards the coastal city of Sirte, a former stronghold of the Islamic State that was captured by the LNA in January. Following the rejection, The Intelligence Ledger began tracking the movement of 18 Egyptian M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks towards Egypt border with Libya.

The Egyptian MBTs are roughly 300 KM from the Libyan border. Using geolocation, The Intelligence Ledger was able to confirm the location of the column at 7:15 PM (CDT) near the town of Abu Hajaj. If it continues down M140, otherwise known as the International Costal Road, the column would reach border checkpoints by the sunset of June 8, 2020. The Egyptian Ministry of Defense has yet to comment on the deployment, and as such, the reason for the movement remains shrouded in mystery. The use of M1A2s in Libya would certainly mark an escalation in the conflict, and increase the risk of direct clashes between rival powers in an already volatile region.

The Libyan Civil War has become a playground for state actors to influence their power in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region. The Republic of Turkey, for example, has provided the GNA with Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and a variety of air defense systems. Further, rumors of Turkish ships lurking off the coast of Tripoli have become relatively common.

On the other hand, the LNA has come to rely heavily on Chinese-made Wing Loong UAVs from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Russia has supplied Haftar with the Pantsir S1, fighter aircraft, and mercenaries, while Iran has been accused of supplying the LNA with the Dehlaviyeh, an anti-tank wire-guided missile system capable of penetrating armored vehicles.

Conflict has gripped the nation since 2011, when Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a popular uprising. The current war is the result of in-fighting between the Tripoli-based GNA, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the House of Representatives allied to Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA).

Update (June 8, 2020 | 3:28 PM CDT) - ND

We have received several messages from subscribers interested in how we determined the location of the M1A2s. The answer is simple, yet mind-numbingly time consuming. By analyzing footage or photos for landmarks, then cross-referencing said landmarks with satellite imagery and image databases, one is able to ascertain the location of an image. The gas station at the start of the footage served as the most notable landmark in the course of the video's runtime. As such, we prioritized the search for that building. The location was also confirmed by the placement of other structures in the vicinity of the area.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.


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