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5 misconceptions about North Korea explained

Here is your list of misconceptions about North Korea, debunked, explained and clarified.

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Yesterday, the North Korean Ambassador to the UN gave a tense press conference in which he issued a statement promising that his nation would exercise the full right to self-defence in the event of an attack from the US.

He also affirmed that in his view, the threats from the US justify North Korea’s weapons programmes as it has shown that such things are necessary in order to both deter and defend against an attack.

The ambassador went on to warn that nuclear war could break out in the Korean peninsula at any moment because of the current tensions. He did not however, ‘threaten to unleash nuclear war’ as some in the mainstream media have suggested.

The short statement can be seen in its entirety below:

With so much disinformation about North Korea being spread by both its detractors and supporters, it is important to clarify some common misconceptions.

1. North Korea Is Dangerous

The United States, South Korea and Japan certainly believe North Korea is dangerous but does this correspond to objective realities?

Since the armistice which brought hostilities on the North Korean peninsula to an end in 1953, North Korea has not been engaged in direct combat with any nation in any meaningful sense.

North Korea has however engaged in various attempted assassinations and kidnappings over the years. Some such assassination attempts have been proved, for example the 1983 attempted assassination of South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan in Rangoon. Others such as the recent killing of Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother in Malaysia, remains shrouded in mystery.

The closest North Korea has come to war, until the present, was in 1976. That year, North Korean personnel killed two US servicemen in the Demilitarised Zone separating the two Korean states, by hacking them to death with an axe. War nearly broke out, but was ultimately avoided. North Korea later admitted responsibility for the killings.

So is North Korea dangerous? In a military sense, no. In respect of targeted killings, most of which failed, one could say that North Korea is unpleasant, but not nearly as unpleasant for example as the CIA which has a far larger and more successful track record of orchestrating political killings and the deposing of world leaders.

When one compares the amount of wars the US has started or been involved in since 1953, there is no contest. According to this analysis, the US is vastly more dangerous to global stability than North Korea.

2. North Korea Does Not Have WMD

Many anti-war activists throughout the world, remember that in 2003, America and Britain invaded Iraq on the basis that it had weapons of mass destruction. This turned out to be a total lie and many said so at the time.

Today, many accuse Syria of having weapons of mass destruction, when in fact Syria has never had nuclear weapons and all of its chemical weapons were removed from the country in 2014 in an agreement overseen by both the US and Russia and welcomed by China. 

Unlike Iraq and Syria, North Korea has weapons of mass destruction. North Korea openly admits this.

In 2005, North Korea announced it had functional nuclear weapons and conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. This contrasts for example with Israel which is almost universally thought to possess nuclear weapons but has never officially admitted to having them nor has Israel ever signed the Nuclear non-Proliferation Agreement (NPT).

North Korea threatened to pull out of the NPT in 1993 and eventually did so 10 years later.

3. North Korea was a Soviet and is a Chinese Ally 

After the end of hostilities in the Korean War (1953), neither China nor the Soviet Union became fully fledged allies of North Korea.

At times both countries even desired regime change in Pyongyang because of North Korea’s refusal to adopt either Maoist Chinese Communism nor Soviet style Marxist-Leninism.

North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung  coined his own communist ideology called Juche. It was yet another way of asserting North Korea’s status as a state that was independent of both its large superpower communist neighbours, China and the USSR.

In many ways, after the Sino-Soviet split of 1960, the Soviet Union was closer to North Korea than China was, although both countries continued to aid North Korea. China’s relationship with North Korea continued to deteriorate after Nixon ‘opened up China’ in the early 1970s.

Even so, North Korea was never a strong ally of the Soviet Union in East Asia, certainly not the way that North Vietnam and later a united Vietnam was.

In the final years of the Soviet Union, Moscow began cutting aid to the country. In the 1990s and 2000s China generally stepped up to fill this void.

Under Vladimir Putin, relations did begin to improve. A newly elected President Putin visited North Korea in the year 2000 and the visit was widely seen as successful. Still Moscow and Pyongyang cannot be considered allies nor even partners.

4. You Cannot Visit North Korea 

You can, unless specifically barred from entry, passport holders of any country, including the United States and Japan can go on one of the increasing numbers of guided tours for foreigners.

It isn’t possible to wander around on one’s own, but you can certainly see North Korea. Some have even illegally taken non-authorised photos. Of course certain authorised photo opportunities are widely available.

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5. North Korea Isn’t Free

This question is a matter of perspective. North Korea is among the most closed states in the world. Contact with the outside world is limited and the free speech enjoyed by Russians and Syrians living in government controlled areas does not exist.

Being wantonly idealistic, one could say that North Korea is a crime-free paradise, a shelter from a violent world where life is more mechanistic and safe than in many countries. The clean and crime free Pyongyang is world’s away from the violent crime and theft capitals of the west like Chicago, New York, London or Paris.

Being wantonly pessimistic, one could say that North Korea is a hermetic hell hole where Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t available, where intentional travel is restricted and where interacting on a global scale is simply not possible.

The truth is psychologically in-between. The aforementioned perspectives rely on fact but ultimately, it would probably be difficult for a non-North Korea to adjust to life in the country. I certainly could not live there, although I could easily live in Russia, government controlled Syria, the US or most major European cities without needing to altar my work or lifestyle to any significant degree.

But no one is asking people like me, or the majority of people reading this to live in North Korea. This is something people tend to ignore when excoriating the at times odd and at times alluring scenes which transpire in North Korea.

Moreover, it is impossible to have a rational debate about any society without first understanding it for what it is, rather than judging it based on the misconceptions and mythologies which have been built up around it.

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BobValdez
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BobValdez

Thank you, Adam, another great article. You are rapidly restoring my faith in you. 😀

Hamletquest
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Hamletquest

Hmm… let me think North Korea has developed WMD’s to defend itself. It hasn’t invaded another country under any pretext false or otherwise. Neither has it invaded other countries nor murdered civilians en-mass for it’s own geo-political ends. So no war crimes, no breaches of international law in how many years over 60? So let’s see who has invaded other countries for it’s own geo-political ends under false pretexts, murdered civilians en-mass, committed war crimes and breached international law recently. Hmm… well the US has, twice in the last 2 weeks, in Syria and then Afghanistan and is now threatening… Read more »

Alberto
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Alberto

North Korea has the right to be the way it is. The US is responsible for the situation with their annual massive drills and permanent coercive rhetoric. Every US president has slammed North Korea in the last fifty years or more for the simple fact of being independent. I don’t give opinions on cultural facts. I know the U.S. and would not like living there. When Cuba was having terrible troubles after the demise of the S Union, North Korea was supplying weapons (rifles) to Cuba FREE, at no cost. They don’t bother anyone, they are not aggressors, they are… Read more »

Brad Isherwood
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Brad Isherwood

South Korea has a Presidential election on May 9, after the impeachment and dismissal of incumbent Park Geun-hye. China has significant investments in South Korea.  US ,Japan, have interests on numerous levels. Trump may be beating the war drums to continue present status of all things Empire in South Korea.  During Teddy Roosevelt 1907-1909 Great White Fleet …..Korea was brought into US sphere of influence Via Japan. Korean leaders were told any political issues regarding The US would be sent thru Japanese political channels.  Lots of abuse and betrayal in this history. …. Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam experienced the… Read more »

Keith Smith
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Keith Smith

read an article about missiles not being the issue, bioligical warfare is the real korean threat. Also are they testing rockets or missiles? NK needs satellites too. and may be pursuing a space program.

Dan Kuhn
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Dan Kuhn

There is only one problem with North Korea and that is that it will not go down on it´s knees to the US Empire. It will not submit. This enrages the US. It is playing around the edges trying to work up the nerve to attack, but is frozen in fear of what might be the great destruction of the myth of it´s all powerful military taking another hiding from North Korea. The US has not and cannot win a war in Asia. The Generals know it and in moments of lucidity have admitted it. But having short memories and… Read more »

Keith Smith
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Keith Smith

Is nice to see public opinion changing. i hate the way MSM portrays it

Suzanne Giraud
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Suzanne Giraud

thank you so very much for the true story;
now if only I could, I’d move there in a flash

Le Ruse
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Le Ruse

Now tell me ?? If you were Donald Trump & have received an unconditional ultimatum from Kim Jong Un, demanding that USA renounce all of it’s nuclear weapons ?? Stop all nuclear research ?? Demand a “regime change” in Washington & And threaten to send assassins to kill the President ?? So ?? How would you take it ?? Cry uncle ??

Mary
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Mary

fredd
Guest
fredd

very difficult to go to China except to sell some rope and then you go back to the horrible place.
LOL
how did those poor NK survive without electricity
like people in the rest of the planet with no electricity i suppose
public executions like saudi arabia but it’s okay there
what a good thing the rest of the world is well fed like Yemen.
and have electricity 100% of the time.
sarcasm
why would somebody buy a TV if they only have electricity a couple of days a year?
did the goverment gave them for free?
what a load of BS

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Major Syrian Army Assault On Southeast Idlib As Sochi Deal Unravels

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months. 

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Via Zerohedge


The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.

This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.

The Al-Masdar source said the primary targets for the Syrian Army were the trenches and military posts for Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in the towns of Al-Taman’ah, Khuwayn, Babulin, Haish, Jarjanaz, Um Jalal, and Mashirfah Shmaliyah. In retaliation for the Syrian Army assault, the jihadist rebels began shelling the government towns of Ma’an, Um Hariteen, and ‘Atshan.

Damascus has been critical of the Sochi deal from the start as it’s criticized Turkey’s role in the Russian-brokered ceasefire plan, especially as a proposed ‘de-militarized’ zone has failed due to jihadist insurgents still holding around 70% of the planned buffer area which they were supposed to withdraw from by mid-October. Sporadic clashes have rocked the “buffer zone” since.

Russia itself recently acknowledged the on the ground failure of the Sochi agreement even as parties officially cling to it. During a Thursday press briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova admitted the following:

We have to state that the real disengagement in Idlib has not been achieved despite Turkey’s continuing efforts to live up to its commitments under the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of September 17.

This followed Russia also recently condemning  “sporadic clashes” and “provocations” by the jihadist group HTS (the main al-Qaeda presence) in Idlib.

Likely due to Moscow seeing the writing on the wall that all-out fighting and a full assault by government forces on Idlib will soon resume, Russian naval forces continued a show of force in the Mediterranean this week.

Russian military and naval officials announced Friday that its warships held extensive anti-submarine warfare drills in the Mediterranean. Specifically the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen conducted the exercise in tandem with deck-based helicopters near Syrian coastal waters.

Notably, according to TASS, the warships central to the drill are “armed with eight launchers of Kalibr-NK cruise missiles that are capable of striking surface, coastal and underwater targets at a distance of up to 2,600 km.”

Since September when what was gearing up to be a major Syrian-Russian assault on Idlib was called off through the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement, possibly in avoidance of the stated threat that American forces would intervene in defense of the al-Qaeda insurgent held province (also claiming to have intelligence of an impending government “chemical attack”), the war has largely taken a back-burner in the media and public consciousness.

But as sporadic fighting between jihadists and Syrian government forces is reignited and fast turning into major offensive operations by government forces, the war could once again be thrust back into the media spotlight as ground zero for a great power confrontation between Moscow and Washington.

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Trump Quietly Orders Elimination of Assange

The destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government.

Eric Zuesse

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On June 28th, the Washington Examiner headlined “Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange” and reported that “Vice President Mike Pence discussed the asylum status of Julian Assange during a meeting with Ecuador’s leader on Thursday, following pressure from Senate Democrats who have voiced concerns over the country’s protection of the WikiLeaks founder.” Pence had been given this assignment by U.S. President Donald Trump. The following day, the Examiner bannered “Mike Pence raises Julian Assange case with Ecuadorean president, White House confirms” and reported that the White House had told the newspaper, “They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

On August 24th, a court-filing by Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia, stated: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure [than sealing the case, hiding it from the public] is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged. … This motion and the proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” That filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. On November 15th, he posted an excerpt of it on Twitter, just hours after the Wall Street Journal had reported on the same day that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange. However, now that we know “the fact that Assange has been charged” and that the U.S. Government is simply waiting “until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter,” it is clear and public that the arrangements which were secretly made between Trump’s agent Pence and the current President of Ecuador are expected to deliver Assange into U.S. custody for criminal prosecution, if Assange doesn’t die at the Ecuadorean Embassy first.

On November 3rd (which, of course, preceded the disclosures on November 15th), Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Ann Hawkins, described in detail what has happened to her son since the time of Pence’s meeting with Ecuador’s President. She said:

He is, right now, alone, sick, in pain, silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact, and being tortured in the heart of London. … He has been detained nearly eight years, without trial, without charge. For the past six years, the UK Government has refused his requests to exit for basic health needs, … [even for] vitamin D. … As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. … A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes. … They will stop at nothing. … When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador, a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He said that because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally…   to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave. … The extradition warrant is held in secret, four prosecutors but no defense, and no judge, … without a prima-facie case. [Under the U.S. system, the result nonetheless can be] indefinite detention without trial. Julian could be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum security prison, or face the death penalty,” for “espionage,” in such secret proceedings.

Her phrase, “because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high” refers to the worry that this new President of Ecuador has, of his cooperating with the U.S. regime’s demands and thereby basically ceding sovereignty to those foreigners (the rulers of the U.S.), regarding the Ecuadorian citizen, Assange.

This conservative new President of Ecuador, who has replaced the progressive President who had granted Assange protection, is obviously doing all that he can to comply with U.S. President Trump and the U.S. Congress’s demand for Assange either to die soon inside the Embassy or else be transferred to the U.S. and basically just disappear, at Guantanamo or elsewhere. Ecuador’s President wants to do this in such a way that Ecuador’s voters won’t blame him for it, and that he’ll thus be able to be re-elected. This is the type of deal he apparently has reached with Trump’s agent, Pence. It’s all secret, but the evidence on this much of what was secretly agreed-to seems clear. There are likely other details of the agreement that cannot, as yet, be conclusively inferred from the subsequent events, but this much can.

Basically, Trump has arranged for Assange to be eliminated either by illness that’s imposed by his Ecuadorean agent, or else by Assange’s own suicide resulting from that “torture,” or else by America’s own criminal-justice system. If this elimination happens inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, then that would be optimal for America’s President and Congress; but, if it instead happens on U.S. soil, then that would be optimal for Ecuador’s President. Apparently, America’s President thinks that his subjects, the American people, will become sufficiently hostile toward Assange so that even if Assange disappears or is executed inside the United States, this President will be able to retain his supporters. Trump, of course, needs his supporters, but this is a gamble that he has now clearly taken. This much is clear, even though the rest of the secret agreement that was reached between Pence and Ecuador’s President is not.

Scooter Libby, who had arranged for the smearing of Valerie Plame who had tried to prevent the illegal and deceit-based 2003 invasion of Iraq, was sentenced to 30 months but never spent even a day in prison, and U.S. President Trump finally went so far as to grant him a complete pardon, on 13 April 2018. (The carefully researched docudrama “Fair Game” covered well the Plame-incident.) Libby had overseen the career-destruction of a courageous CIA agent, Plame, who had done the right thing and gotten fired for it; and Trump pardoned Libby, thus retroactively endorsing the lie-based invasion of Iraq in 2003. By contrast, Trump is determined to get Julian Assange killed or otherwise eliminated, and even Democrats in Congress are pushing for him to get that done. The new President of Ecuador is doing their bidding. Without pressure from the U.S. Government, Assange would already be a free man. Thus, either Assange will die (be murdered) soon inside the Embassy, or else he will disappear and be smeared in the press under U.S. control. And, of course, this is being done in such a way that no one will be prosecuted for the murder or false-imprisonment. Trump had promised to “clean the swamp,” but as soon as he was elected, he abandoned that pretense; and, as President, he has been bipartisan on that matter, to hide the crimes of the bipartisan U.S. Government, and he is remarkably similar in policy to his immediate predecessors, whom he had severely criticized while he was running for the Presidency.

In any event, the destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government; and, just like in Khashoggi’s case, the nation’s ruler controls the prosecutors and can therefore do whatever he chooses to do that the rest of the nation’s aristocracy consider to be acceptable.

The assault against truth isn’t only against Assange, but it is instead also closing down many of the best, most courageous, independent news sites, such as washingtonsblog. However, in Assange’s case, the penalty for having a firm commitment to truth has been especially excruciating and will almost certainly end in his premature death. This is simply the reality. Because of the system under which we live, a 100% commitment to truth is now a clear pathway to oblivion. Assange is experiencing this reality to the fullest. That’s what’s happening here.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Libya’s Peace Process Dies in Palermo

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet to sort out their differences.

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Authored by Richard Galustian for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:


“Resounding flop” was the verdict of Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi on this week’s Libya peace conference held in Palermo. He’s not wrong. The conference hosted by Italy’s new government achieved the remarkable feat of making Libya’s tensions worse, not better. Acrimony broke out between the parties, and Turkey’s delegation walked out, its vice president Fuat Oktay accusing unnamed States of trying to “hijack the process.”

Some sources in Palermo suggested, yet to be verified, that the US thought the Conference was not too bad: a joke if true.

Moreover the mystery we might ask is what “process” is there to hijack? Because the truth is, the peace plan the conference was supporting is already dead.

That plan was the brainchild of the United Nations, launched more than a year ago with the aim of ending Libya’s split between warring Eastern and Western governments with elections in December.

Even before the first delegates set foot in the pleasant Sicilian city of Palermo this week, the UN admitted the election date of December 10 they had decided to scrap.

The eastern government, led by the parliament in Tobruk, had made moves in the summer to organize a referendum on a new constitution which would govern the elections. But no referendum was held, and most Libyans agree it would be pointless because Tripoli, home to a third of the country’s population, is under the iron grip of multiple warring militias who have the firepower to defy any new elected government. Hours after the delegates left Palermo, those militias began a new bout of fighting in the Tripoli suburbs.

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end of the talks was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet in a grand conference to sort out their differences – and this after four years of civil war. To say that chances of this are slim is an understatement.

Dominating the Palermo talks, and indeed Libya’s political landscape, was and is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, the country’s most powerful formation. In four years, the LNA has secured Libya’s key oil fields and Benghazi, its second city, ridding most of the east Libya of Islamist militias.

Haftar met reluctantly negotiators in Palermo, but insisted he was not part of the talks process. The Italian government press office said Haftar was not having dinner with the other participants nor joining them for talks. Haftar specifically opposed the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood champion, Qatar, at the event along with Turkey.

Haftar clearly only attended because he had a few days before visiting Moscow – which sent to Sicily Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – and because also of Egyptian President Sisi’s presence along with his allies.

Possibly Haftar was simply fed up. Twice in the past two years he has attended previous peace talks, hosted each time in Paris, giving the nod to declarations that Libya’s militias would dissolve. Yet the militias remain as strong as ever in Tripoli.

Haftar is detested by the militias and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) but supported by a large segment of the population – 68 percent, according to an opinion poll by America’s USAID. His popularity is based on a single policy – his demand that security be in the hands of regular police and military, not the militias.

Not everyone is happy, certainly not Turkey, which is backing Islamist, MB and Misratan forces in western Libya who detest Haftar. Yet Turkey’s greatest statesman, the great Kamal Ataturk, was a champion of secularism: After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War One Turkey faced the prospect of utter disintegration, and it was Attaturk who rose to the challenge, defending the country’s borders, while ordering that the mullahs, while responsible for spiritual welfare, have no political power.

Political Islam is not popular in Libya either. Libya is a Muslim country, its people know their faith, and most want government to be decided through the ballot box.

The problem for Libya is what happens next with the peace process broken. Haftar has in the past threatened to move on Tripoli and rid the militias by force if they refuse to dissolve, and it may come to that – a fierce escalation of the civil war.

The second possibility is that Libya will split. The east is, thanks to the LNA, militarily secure. It also controls two thirds of the country’s oil and operates as a separate entity, down to it banknotes, which are printed in Russia while the Tripoli government’s are printed in Britain. A formal split would be an economic boon for the lightly populated east, but a disaster for Tripolitania, its population losing most of the oil, its only source of export income.

Yet with the failure of peace talks, and no sign of Tripoli militias dissolving, military escalation or breakup seem more likely than ever.

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