Stopping the War for Tripoli

Barring a sudden – and improbable – radical change in the balance of forces on the ground, the battle for Tripoli is likely to be long, destructive and deadly. For now, both the Tripoli government and its allies, on the one hand, and Haftar’s forces, on the other, are embarked on a perilous path toward escalation that could well draw external actors deeper into the fight. The longer the fight for Tripoli continues, the greater the risk that it will ignite an all-out civil war, setting ablaze yet another country in an already deeply troubled region. There is an alternative path, but it will require the two parties to compromise and – importantly – their respective international backers to stop fuelling the conflict and, instead, agree to work toward a ceasefire and empower the UN special envoy to restart political, financial and military negotiations.