Misrata militiamen in Western Libya, July 2012.
Youssef Boudlal / Courtesy Reuters

In war-torn Libya, the future path toward peace may lie not in the meeting halls of United Nations–sponsored talks but in a sprawling dairy factory in the western port city of Misrata. Remarkably, even after months of fighting, it is still churning out delicious fruit yogurt and macchiato ice cream.

The al-Naseem dairy plant is Libya’s largest private enterprise—and one of the few functioning businesses in a country that has been battered by civil war since May of last year. When I toured the factory’s well-groomed grounds in January, al-Naseem’s owner told me he had suffered a 40 percent revenue loss since the start of the conflict. He was tired of fighting and ready for dialogue.

Misrata was the site of the Libyan revolution’s pivotal battle, one which paved the way for the liberation of Tripoli and the fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime. The

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.

  • FREDERIC WEHREY is a Senior Associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Follow him on Twitter @FWehrey.
  • More By Frederic Wehrey