Why partitioning Libya might be the only way to save it

It’s striking, in fact, that two bitter enemies—General Khalifa Haftar (the “strongman” of Tobruk, supported by the Russians and French) and Sadiq al-Ghariani (the Grand Mufti of Libya, who lives in Tripoli)—have both condemned the U.S. intervention and, more typically, Serraj’s weakness. The latter is another problem: Serraj was chosen because he is a moderate, but this is likely to be his undoing at a time when political charisma could make a difference. To make things worse, the special envoy for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Martin Kobler, declared last week that support for the Government of National Unity (GNA) is “crumbling” amid increased power problems and the quick fall of Libya’s currency.

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The other hot topic, as always, is the integration of General Haftar and his National Army into the GNA. But at the moment—thanks to dangerous and opaque foreign support, particularly from Russia—he does not seem willing to give anything to the GNA. After two years of civil war, nothing has changed, and this is a clear symptom of a much larger disease: a national conflict rooted in local and atavistic fights. Qaddafi no doubt had many faults, but so do the Libyans. Libyans today have much in common with the tribes of one century ago, with both in constant struggle with each other for pastures and land dominance. Above all, the result is the same: Libyans are fighting each other at a local, regional, and national level. Today, as in 1928, the willingness to put aside their own individualism for the higher good of the nation seems to be missing.

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