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Can Libya find unity through oil?

With the Libyan National Army’s takeover of the crescent oil ports, Gen. Khalifa Hifter may be the key to a true national unity government.
A member of Libyan forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar holds a weapon as he sits on a car in front of the gate at Zueitina oil terminal in Zueitina, west of Benghazi, Libya September 14, 2016. Picture taken September 14, 2016. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori - RTSNU2U
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For years, Western policymakers have sought to sweep the post-Moammar Gadhafi mess under the rug. Although they are not primarily responsible for the country’s post-Arab Spring implosion — as the recent report by conservative member of UK Parliament Crispin Blunt erroneously implies — Western leaders have chosen to keep Libya at arm’s length by delegating to the United Nations the dirty job of sorting out the warring factions.

The UN aim to forge a unity government through negotiation has always been a noble goal, but its approach has often been half-baked and tainted by UN corruption. When the Government of National Accord (GNA) formally came into being in March 2016, it was not representative of Libya’s key factions. Instead it was dominated by stakeholders from Misrata and Tripoli, with a sprinkling of Islamists. This compounded fears of political exclusion among Easterners and led to greater support for the anti-Islamist Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who has long sought to upend the UN-backed political framework and establish military rule.

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