July 14, 2020 / 6:47 PM / 25 days ago

UPDATE 1-Eastern-based Libyan parliament asks Egypt to intervene in war

(Adds Trump-Erdogan phone call)

TUNIS, July 14 (Reuters) - Libya’s eastern-based parliament has called for Egypt to directly intervene in the country’s civil war to counter Turkish support for the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital Tripoli.

In a statement late on Monday, the House of Representatives based in the eastern port of Tobruk said Egyptian backing was needed to stave off what it described as a Turkish invasion and occupation.

The statement underscores the growing stakes in Libya, where battle lines solidified earlier this month near the city of Sirte after the GNA and Turkey repelled a yearlong assault on Tripoli by the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

Libya has been divided since 2014 between the GNA in Tripoli and a rival eastern administration in Benghazi, where LNA commander Khalifa Haftar has dominated. There is also a separate House of Representatives based in Tripoli.

Any major new escalation could risk igniting a direct conflict in Libya among the foreign powers that have already poured in weapons and fighters in violation of an arms embargo. The LNA is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has already warned the army might enter Libya if the GNA and its Turkish allies renew an assault on Sirte, a central coastal city seen as the gateway to Libya’s main oil export terminals.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on Tuesday to work more closely in Libya to bring about lasting stability in the country, the Turkish presidency said.

Ankara has previously said the United States needs to play a more active role in the North African country.

The White House said the two leaders underscored the “need for a negotiated settlement of regional issues.”

Control over oil, the main source of state revenue, has emerged as the biggest prize in the conflict, with eastern forces having imposed a blockade on production and exports since January. (Reporting by Angus McDowall with additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul Editing by Peter Graff and Mark Heinrich)

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