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Opinion
James Stavridis

Libya’s New Warlord Needs to Make Peace

Khalifa Haftar is marching toward Tripoli, but more conflict will only help the terrorists.

He’s waited a long time for this.

He’s waited a long time for this.

Photographer: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

In so many ways, Libya should be a successful and prosperous nation. Its lengthy Mediterranean coastline is dotted with significant ports and infrastructure. Its oil reserves are the largest in Africa and top 10 in the world. Libya has a relatively educated population of just 6 million, and close proximity to Europe. Yet since the death of the former dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, the nation has spiraled deeper into chaos.

Now, things have devolved into a long-running civil war between the government in Tripoli, which is supported by the United Nations, and the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, which are advancing on the capital. Don’t bet against Haftar. I commanded the NATO forces that intervened in Libya in 2011 at the request of the UN to prevent Qaddafi from massacring a significant portion of his population. I met Haftar, who is a charismatic figure with a fascinating background.