Can coronavirus bring some semblance of peace in Libya?


On the 21st March, the UN announced that both the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) had responded positively to UN calls for a humanitarian pause in the war in Libya. António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, has expressed hope that ceasefire would lead to more lasting peace – but how likely is this?

As a country which has been in conflict since 2011, Libya is particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. Hospitals are already overwhelmed by the day-to-day injuries of war; to add COVID-19 patients on top of that strain could be catastrophic. According to one GNA official, Libya is “divided countries, we effectively have two health ministries – one in Tripoli and in the east”. Without a coordinated response, it will be very difficult to control the spread of the virus. 

“Divided countries, we effectively have two health ministries – one in Tripoli and in the east”

To date, Libya has eleven confirmed cases of COVID-19, with one death. There is a severe lack of resources – the Libyan Red Crescent has donated all its protective equipment to hospitals in Tripoli, but there is still a severe lack of testing kits. Thus, the true number of cases could be much higher. 

The living conditions of many Libyans are conducive to the spread of disease, which makes the threat even greater. For refugees in particular, an Eritrean man in Tripoli has noted, the situation is particularly dire – between 6 and 8 people sleep in each room due to high rent, which could lead to rapid spread. This danger is exacerbated as “the government prevent all the people from leaving their houses, but we need to work to get money for food”, a man from Darfur, Sudan noted. 

To date, Libya has eleven confirmed cases of COVID-19, with one death.

Measures have been taken to prevent the spread, such as curfews across the country, and the freeing of 466 prisoners in Tripoli to reduce overcrowding in detention centers. Furthermore, in early March, the GNA expressed fears that Syrian mercenaries could spread the disease in Libya, and called for the reduction of their presence. 

However, despite the ‘humanitarian pause’, fighting has continued, with attacks on the Watiya air base outside the capital by GNA forces. LNA forces have since responded with airstrikes on Tripoli, which are said to be some of the most vicious of recent weeks. 

Furthermore, with bans of imports into the country of anything other than food and medical supplies, forces are left essentially to their own devices. With both sides showing their disregard for the supposed pause in fighting, it leaves political negotiations uncertain. 

Despite the ‘humanitarian pause’, fighting has continued

It also appears that the majority of resources are being given to the GNA territory of Tripoli, rather than also being distributed east, to LNA controlled areas such as Tobruk. In such unstable political times, it is possible that the imbalance in response – both domestic and international – to COVID-19 may widen divisions between the two groups. 

If a truly coordinated action can deliver an effective and fair pandemic response, then maybe the coronavirus can provide an alley into peace agreements. However, in the current political climate, this appears to be unlikely.

Image: Robbo-Man via Creative Commons

2 thoughts on “Can coronavirus bring some semblance of peace in Libya?

  • There is opportunity for nations with a population of less than 200 million in the 3 rd world

    Take Pakistan !

    You are missing “The Corona Bonanza”

    Bonanza 1

    There will a temporary shock to the government fiscal revenues as Imports will crash,CIF rates of imports will also crash,domestic production has stopped (as tax on MRP less deductions is paid at the time of production and not sale),domestic MRP rates will also crash.That is Y the state has not passed the benefits of lower crude and palm rates to the people.dindooohindoo

    The Bonus is in non-salary expenditures of the state,which are on ARC (Annual Rate Contracts) or other RC.With crash in commodities and surplus capacities – Pakistan can easily make and re-negotiate its procurements.Large nations like Hindoosthan,will face disaster,as they will face supply risks,per se.W.r.t the purchases by the Pakistani state,the state can declare Force Majeure,especially on International contracts.

    There is no immorality in this,as the suuply and value chain of the suupliers to the state – will,in any case,declare Force Majeure – which will ensure that the suupliers will default on the government contracts.The supliers will make supplies at ARCs,only to the extent of the existing stocks,as at March 15th,2020.They cannot be allowed to supply,from new purchases at the old ARC rates.

    Global suppliers will be glad to dump their stocks – with depots in Pakistan – for sale to the Pakistani State.

    This could easily reduce the costs by 30-50%,on a one time and recurring basis.Once this Cost is saved,in phases,the benefit of oil price crash on fuels and edible oils and also power tarriffs and fertilisers,can be passed on to the public.That will be pure jannat.

    Bonanza 2

    The Only Solution to the supply chain risk in USA/EU (w.r.t their supply chains in PTRC) lies in massive robotics and AI – which will make humans obsolete in manufactuirng and also,in part,in IT.The question is,what to do with the humans.That is Y the virus is sought – Simple !

    For Pakistan – the crash in Raw Materials and cost of capital, availability of capital and crash in logistics costs will make manufacturing and exports viable.That makes existing unviable manufacturing units viable and jobs and decline in NPAs.No fresh capacities should be launched,solely based on the current cost structure.Crash in costs plus the low labour costs in Pakistan and stable PKR – is the Alt-AI and Robotics

    The Pakistani people should thank its prior leaders,that they made manufacturing unviable in Pakistan,and made it a trading nation. Had the state set up manufacturing units – they would be unviable,banks would be busted and there would have been mass skilled unemployment. Just look at Hindoosthan. dindooohindoo

    This is the time for setting up manufacturing units – SME and others.

    The military,food,telecom,technology and health secuirty of the USA and EU is in the hands of the PRC.These nations will be FORCED to move at least 10-20% of their supply chain,to other nations.They have no choice.

    Bonanza 3

    The SBP and the treasury of the private sector,should suck in the Corona rate cuts and packages in EU/Nippon/North East Asia and the USA – and restructure the entire FX loan portfolio,w.r.t tenor,spreads,risk premiums,swaps and hedges. One simple way,is by trade finance,which is based on underlying trade and other activties with those nations.

    Bonanza 4

    After doing 3 and 4 above,the state should invite bids to build and repair infrastructure on BOOT basis.The Cost of infra should reduce by at least 30%,supplemented with long term soft loans and grants.

    With viable manufacturing and exports,lower cost of debt – an already cheaper infra cost – will make infra financing and operations,all the more viable

    Bonanza 5

    To lock in the gains to the people and industry,the SBP and the State should lock in to NYMEX crude and futures,at current rates (on CBOT or with large funds etc.) – for as long as possible,with reasonable contangos or maximum backwardation.A large nation cannot do this – as it will move the premiums,in the derivatives market.

    The State should thereafter, lock in the oil and gas rates – and then affix power and fertilisr tarriffs, for the same tenor – with a priority for industrial zones – after meeting the consumer needs.Edible oil contracts can also be struck with large funds,in the USA/EU.

    This is also the time for the state to declare Force Majeuer on the ulra high cost RPP/IPPs.With reduced power demand,the entire power demand of Pakistan, can be met from fuel and coal plants,at less than half of the previous marginal cost. For several people, this power supply can be free of cost,as the Marginal cost of power on current fuel costs,should be around 1-2 Rupees (which is not worth collecting from marginal users).

    It is time to celebrate !

  • Like I said in my post,as above on April 13,2020 at 5:36 pm,what the IMF/World Bank and the Pakistani state could not do for 73 years – COVID and my prophecy has ! dindooohindoo

    The CAD has crashed and will turn surplus in less than 5 months – as IRP (Islamic Republic of Pakistan is the only viable exporter,for several labour intensive and agri and animal husbandry products).It will be viable to fly camels and donkeys,to the world in 747s and C-130s for meat – it will occur soon !

    The austerity which an Islamic state SHOULD have – BUT DID NOT – has come via COVID !

    This is the time to code austerity in the DNA of all subjects of Islamic states – which will also offset the Oil shock to Islamic economies

    It might be noted that 90% of the dead and 95% of the infected are in Christian nations !

    The next issue for IRP is the fiscal deficit – and for that also there is a solution !

    The disaster is for large populated nations,with higher cost manufacturing (w.r.t PRC) and large unskilled labour in manufacturing and agriculture.

    Which is India !

    We are witnessing the destruction of India – in slow motion !

    The IRP can give me a diplomatic passport and a posting in Geneva and USD 5 million !

    I will pray for them and solve all their problems


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