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Hussein Ibish

Libya is Sliding Toward Partition

Despite international backing, neither side of the civil war can achieve a decisive victory.

Aimless fighting.

Aimless fighting.

Photographer: Amru Salahuddien/Xinhua via Getty Images

It has now been a year since the start of the current phase of the Libya civil war  between eastern forces led by Khalifa Haftar, head of the rebel Libyan National Army, and the western forces loyal to the Government of National Accord in Tripoli. Neither seems capable of decisive victory, and with little prospect of a peaceful reconciliation, the possibility of partition—formal or informal—looms ever larger.

Both sides are receiving support from outside powers, for whom the contest for Libya is a struggle over regional natural resources and over the future of Islamist groups in the Arab world.