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So far there is little public discussion of handling the siege of Tripoli and its inevitable cleansing or extermination of regime officials, their relations and any perceived beneficiaries. From here on, we, the authors of this situation should look at the following:

First, obtaining explicit recognition by the TNC that it controls its fighters and has ordered and can enforce international norms on treatment of civilians and non-combatants as its forces advance under Western protection.

Second, that the TNC agrees to halt outside Tripoli and NATO ceases attacks for a period of political bargaining over steps towards a post-Q20hafi Libya which is likely to fail through distrust but needs to be given a chance .

Third, NATO and its members declare that it will apply international legal sanction against either side which contravenes applicable laws, treaties and conventions relating to protection of civilians during the final settlement and post-settlement periods.

Fourth, NATO should convene a supervising but humanitarian and protective force to take control of Tripoli and other western population centres to facilitate transition, as occurred, for example, in Sierra Leone. The object is to create among regime beneficiaries enough confidence to give up and decrease the benefits to the rebels to do more than restructure governance arrangements along lines generally acceptable to NATO states; wholesale disbanding of police and military formations should be avoided. The Arab League needs to be invited into this process.

Fifth, NATO states should establish long-term joint judicial processes to handle accusations against former regime members. NATO also needs to advise on and support prison arrangements. No equivalent to de-Ba athification should take place.

Sixth, the TNC is clearly in need of governance capacity-building across all sectors, including civil society and nascent business groups, especially farmers organisations. Libya has yet to catch up from its period under sanctions and upgrade its water, sewerage and telecoms infrastructures. Caution needs to be shown about privatisation in an economy heavily state-dominated and where public dependency on the state is high.

Why are these steps important? Without a substantial and powerful investment in the new Libya, it is likely to become a lesion in the belly of Europe, a destabilising influence in the development of a potentially new Egypt, an unpredictable energy supplier, and a member of the African Union with little part in addressing poverty and development on its own continent.