The Wrong Way to Fix Libya

Early Elections Would Be a Disaster

A historic building, that was ruined during a three-year conflict, is seen in Benghazi, Libya, February 28, 2018. Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters

To visit Libya in recent months is to encounter a country holding its breath, caught in the throes of abeyance and a deep foreboding. It is a lawless place, riddled with criminality and flare-ups of fierce fighting in the south and east. Oil revenues have fallen due to recent factional clashes and elite plunder has everyday Libyans struggling for subsistence amid deep economic crisis. Overlaying all of this is a lingering political stalemate. Formal authority is split between a feeble, internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital of Tripoli and eastern institutions dominated by Field Marshal Khalifa Hiftar, who once served under the former Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi but later had a falling-out. But much of the country’s west and south escapes the control of these rival authorities.

There has been no shortage of Western proposals to break the gridlock and stave off further collapse, the

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