A Libya Stalemate

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Zack Hosford and Andrew Exum fear one:

The most dangerous outcome for the United States is also the most likely, which is a stalemate that prolongs U.S. and allied military intervention in Libya. The relative lack of sophistication and organization among rebel fighting forces means they may be unable to regain the momentum in Libya and defeat Gadhafi’s forces in open combat absent significant direct and indirect support from U.S. and allied militaries – which is not explicitly authorized by UNSCR 1973 and might not be supported by the U.S. Congress.

A stalemate in Libya would effectively result in a de facto partition of the country with a severely under-governed and disorganized safe haven in eastern Libya for the rebels that could provide refuge for various militant and criminal groups capable of exporting violence and instability to other countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Such a scenario would prolong U.S. and allied military intervention as only a major Western investment in developing the independent governance, economic and security force capacity of eastern Libya would be likely to forestall this outcome. However, such an investment is highly unlikely due to the overarching fiscal constraints facing the United States and NATO countries and competing priorities.

(Photo: A Libyan man stands on the bombed fishing harbor of Sirte on March 28, 2011 a day after a coalition air strike, as rebels were stopped in their tracks by forces loyal to Moamer Kadahfi who launched a fierce attack on their convoy, halting their push forward to Sirte for a second time in the day. By Imed Lamloum/AFP/Getty Images)

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