Militias have entered Tripoli, shifting the balance of power inside Libya and hampering the advance towards new elections. European powers need to stop squabbling and grasp the meaning of this new state of affairs, says Tarek Megerisi.
Writing for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), he says:
"The crisis in Libya took a new turn for the worse last week as violence erupted across Tripoli. Militias from across north-west Libya have now entered the capital, seeking to replace the infamous cartel of four militias that previously had full control of the city. Since then, a counter-offensive by cartel members has recaptured some ground. But their hegemony over the city is surely over.
"One must not underestimate the significance of this event: it constitutes a paradigm shift in the Libyan political and security landscape. The militias’ move totally upends the view in European capitals that security in Tripoli and more generally had been improving, and that Libya could therefore now advance towards a new political process and elections.
"Now, French-backed polls due later this year appear less likely than ever to take place. But, even more worryingly, the capital could enter a new cycle of yet more destructive conflict if a UNSMIL-backed ceasefire agreed this week is not quickly made secure, including putting in place new security arrangements which include the new arrivals to Tripoli."