David Cameron should complete the “mission” he started in Libya to prevent the country becoming another Islamist-dominated state like Syria, Egypt’s President will demand when he visits Downing Street on Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned that Libya has become a “danger that threatens all of us” since Britain helped Nato forces overthrow dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddaffi.
He suggested that Britain and other Nato members should “help the Libyan people and the Libyan economy” and “stop the flow of funds and weapons” to extremists.
It came after Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, prompted anger from his shadow cabinet by suggesting that the government should review air strikes over Iraq.
During an interview with ITV News he questioned the success of the RAF strikes in Iraq as “most of the action appears to have moved into Syria”. He said “we have to look again at that decision”.
A spokesman for Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, said that the air strikes should continue and highlighted the fact that Parliament had voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of it.
The Government on Tuesday denied claims that David Cameron has abandoned his plans to go to the Commons for a vote on Syria.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, said that the government wants to “take the fight to Isil wherever we can”.
However, he said that the government will not do so unless there is a “consensus for that action”, adding that “it’s not clear that there is a majority for it” at present.
A government source admitted that Russia’s intervention in Syria and Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader makes a vote less likely.
Mr al-Sisi’s visit will be his first since he became president last year, and he is keen to repair ties with Downing Street after Mr Cameron backed the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak during the height of the Arab Spring.
The Egyptian leader said he wants to see Britain and the other Nato countries that took part in the military campaign to overthrow Gaddafi help with rebuilding the country and prevent it becoming a failed state like Syria.
He said: “Libya is a danger that threatens all of us. If there is no government then this only creates a vacuum where extremists can prosper.
“It was a mission that was not completely accomplished. What happened was that Libya was left without the leadership when it needed our help most. Now we have the situation where the will of the Libyan people is being held hostage by militant groups.
“We must support all efforts to help the Libyan people and the Libyan economy. We need to stop the flow of funds and weapons and foreign fighters to the extremists. All the members of Nato – including Britain – who took part in the mission to overthrow Gaddafi need to give their help.”
Mr al-Sisi criticised the West’s limited military response to Islamic State (Isil) fighters in Iraq and Syria. “The map of extremism and instability is expanding and not retreating. We need to reassess our priorities.”
He was also dismissive of claims an act of terrorism was responsible for the Russian jet that crashed in Sinai over the weekend.
Mr al-Sisi condemned reports that the plane had been brought down by a missile or a bomb as “unfounded speculation”, and said that making further comment on the incident was “premature and not based on any proper facts.”