The disparate militias on the Tripoli front line are only nominally loyal to the weak central government, though it’s paying some of them well to fight. If and when Haftar is defeated, a new contest for power could erupt among the victors.
Washington must get tough on violations of the UN arms embargo and hold Libya’s warring sides accountable for their conduct; it must also pursue a more inclusive governance framework for Libya’s future—one that does not include Haftar.
As the most powerful external actor involved in the conflict, Washington’s signals matter. Trump’s call appears to rest on a mistaken but well-trodden narrative, advanced by Haftar’s forces, his Arab backers, and his western sympathizers.
Testimony before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee
The current crisis is Libya’s worst in half a decade and, potentially, since the 2011 revolution. Unless swift action is taken to end the clashes and return to a political process, the damage may be irreparable.
Hamza Meddeb is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where his research focuses on economic reform, political economy of conflicts, and border insecurity across the Middle East and North Africa.
Frederic Wehrey is a senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His research deals with armed conflict, security sectors, and identity politics, with a focus on Libya, North Africa, and the Gulf.
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