Libyan revolutionary brigades yesterday closed the Libyan-Egyptian border crossing at Musaid, after the head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood tried to flee the country’s political coup.
Mohammed Badie, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, and ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, have both been banned from leaving the country since yesterday’s military takeover. Badie, however, flouted the travel ban and tried to seek sanctuary in Libya.
Badie was reportedly arrested by the Egyptian army while being escorted towards the border by members of the Bedouin Awlad Ali tribe. Subsequent clashes with the Egyptian military left four tribesmen dead.
Head of the Tobruk Local Council, Faraj Yasin Obeidi, said that the revolutionary brigades had been deployed at checkpoints between the border crossing and Tobruk.
The crossing remains closed today.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, whose Justice and Construction party is the second largest in Congress, has however said that any request for political asylum in Libya made by a Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member, whether he was in government or part of the Jemaah Islamiyah, should be allowed. Bashir Alkibti added that what is happening in Egypt has to be seen as a military coup against the legitimate elected government and, as such, a major blow to democracy.
So far, there has been no official reaction to events in Egypt. Nor has there been any comment about Libya’s loan of $2 billion handed to the Egyptians in April. It was officially described by the Libyan authorities at the time as an investment but was widely seen as having been given to help prop up both the government of President Morsi and the tottering Egyptian economy.
Morsi’s overthrow also puts a question mark over the oil supply deal agreed last March under which Libya agreed to provide cash-strapped Egypt with as much as million barrels of crude oil a month on preferential payments for a year. The deal was still unfinalised a few days ago because of Egypt’s inability to provide payment guarantees.
Public reaction in Libya to Morsi’s overthrow has also been muted. However, back in Tobruk, known to be unsympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, local youths as well as Egyptians took to the streets yesterday evening to celebrate the military intervention in Cairo.
Ashraf Abdul Wahab