With regard to the political track, the statement proposes the resumption of the political process by forming a committee of forty members, representing equally the opposing political bodies of the two warring authorities (the Tobruk government in the east and the official government in Tripoli in the west). The members should be independent personalities, who will meet in Geneva to initiate an effective political dialogue in order to put in place a practical framework for the political solution, as demanded in the Berlin statement.

This framework should be built around a functioning presidency council and a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government. Together they should oversee the organisation of presidential and parliamentary elections, under international supervision.

Meanwhile, the economic track should bring together the institutions divided between the authorities in Tripoli and Benghazi, namely the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), the National Oil Corporation (NOC), the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) and the Audit Bureau (AB).

From my perspective, as someone who is living amid the catastrophe that is Libya today, the Berlin statement, with its three tracks, might best be characterised by its good intentions (not to say naive perceptions). After all, it is counting on the hope that a peaceful solution is the only way to end the crisis. The reality on the ground argues otherwise, however.

The armed conflict has escalated progressively over nearly six years, with the alliance of Islamist militias and local tribal forces which control Tripoli versus the unified military forces led by General Haftar. It has become a grinding war in Tripoli’s suburbs. General Haftar’s forces, the so-called the "Libyan National Army", now control almost 90% of the country (including all of the east and the south as well as a significant part of the west); they also control the oil wells and the ports through which the oil is exported.

Meanwhile, the militias which make up the forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is the internationally recognised government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, control Tripoli and some important coastal cities in the west, such as Misurata and Zawiya.

The battle for Tripoli

The battle to take control of the capital (which is the greatest prize) will be decisive. Whoever controls Tripoli controls Libya. This has been the case since the Crusaders (the Knights of St. John) occupied the city in 1523 and appointed the priest Gaspare de Sangiiessa as its governor. The latter ruled Tripoli for nearly three decades, until its inhabitants sought the help of the Ottomans who eventually freed them from the Crusaders in 1551.

The Ottomans went on to rule Libya for 360 years until 1911 when the Ottoman Empire ceded control of Libya to Italian colonial power under the Treaty of Lausanne. This required the Sublime Porte (ed: the central government of the Ottoman Empire) to withdraw all of its soldiers, officers, and employees from Tripoli and Benghazi.

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