US X-37B unmanned space plane returning from its fourth mission in 2017 [US Air Force].

▲ US X-37B unmanned space plane, returning from its fourth mission, in 2017 [US Air Force].



[10-page document. downloadin PDF]



The militarisation of space is a reality. The major powers have taken the step of putting satellites into orbit that can attack and destroy the space apparatus of adversary or third states. The consequences for the victim of such attacks can be catastrophic, because its communications, navigation and defence systems will be partially or totally disabled. This scenario raises, as in nuclear war, the possibility of a pre-emptive strike aimed at avoiding falling into the hands of the adversary in an eventual war. The United States and Russia have the capability to take such action, but the other powers do not want to lag behind. The rest are trying to follow the great powers, who dictate the rules of the system.

In space, too, the great powers are competing to maintain their primacy in the global international system and seek to ensure that, in the event of a confrontation, they can disable and destroy their adversary's command and control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, because without satellites their ability to defend themselves against the devastating power of precision-guided weapons is reduced. From this follows the rule that whoever dominates space will dominate the Earth in a war.

This is one of the fundamental tenets of Friedman's work on power at International Office in this century, when he argues that the wars of the future will be fought in space because adversaries will seek to destroy the space systems that allow them to select targets and the navigation and communications satellites to disable their war-fighting capabilities.

As a result, both the United States and Russia, as well as China, are funding major space programmes and developing new technologies aimed at obtaining unconventional satellites and space planes, so that we can unambiguously speak of the militarisation of space, as we shall see in the following sections.

But before we continue, we must remember that there is a multilateral international treaty, called the Outer Space Treaty, which was initially signed by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union on 27 January 1967, which establishes a series of limitations on operations in space. According to this treaty, any country launching an object into space "shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, as well as over all staff on it, while in space or on a celestial body" (article 8). It also states that any country "shall be manager internationally liable for damage caused to another State party (...) by such an object or its component parts on Earth, in airspace or in outer space" (article 7). This means that any space satellite can approach, follow or remotely observe another country's apparatus, but cannot alter or interrupt its operation in any way. It should be made clear that while nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction are prohibited in space, there is no limitation on the installation of conventional weapons on space satellites. At the urging of Russia and China, the UN General Assembly has been pushing since 2007 for a multilateral treaty banning weapons in outer space, the use of force or the threat of force against space objects, project , but this has been consistently rejected by the United States.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Documents of work Global Space

In addition to the return to the Moon and Mars, asteroid travel programmes are also being accelerated [NASA].

In addition to the return to the Moon and the arrival on Mars, asteroid travel programmes are also being accelerated [NASA].



[8-page document. downloadin PDF]



Since time immemorial, human beings have imagined themselves outside the Earth, exploring other worlds. One of the first stories dates back to the 2nd century A.D. Lucian of Samosata wrote a book in which his characters reached the moon thanks to the impulse of a whirlwind and there they developed their adventures. Since then, one can find numerous science fiction novels or stories set on the Moon, on Mars, on other bodies in our Solar System or even beyond. Somehow they all lost a bit of their fiction in the middle of the last century, with the first steps of an astronaut on our satellite. Unfortunately, however, what seemed to be the beginning of a new era did not go beyond 5 missions over 2 years.

The first stage began when President Kennedy uttered his famous phrase: "We choose to go to the Moon.... We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too". Although perhaps the end was written in the beginning: the only goal was to prove that the US was the technological leader over the USSR, and when this was achieved the project stopped.

Categories Global Affairs: Economics, Trade and Technology Documents from work Global Space

Scene about anchoring on an asteroid to develop mining activity, from [Christopher Barnatt].

Scene about anchoring on an asteroid to develop mining activity, from [Christopher Barnatt].



[8-page document. downloadin PDF]



The new space degree program is based on more solid and lasting foundations - especially economic interest - than the first one, which was based on ideological skill and international prestige. In the new Cold War there are also space developments that obey the strategic struggle of the great powers, as was the case between the 1950s and 1970s, but today the aspects of exploration and defence are joined by commercial interests: companies are taking over from states in many respects.

However debatable it may be to speak of a new space age, given that since the emblematic launch of Sputnik in 1957, there has been no end to scheduled activity in different regions of space, including human presence (although manned trips to the Moon have ended, there have been trips and stays in Earth's orbit leave ), the fact is that we have entered a new phase.

Hollywood, which so well reflects the social reality and generational aspirations of the times, serves as a mirror. After a time without special space-related productions, since 2013 the genre is experiencing a resurgence, with new nuances. Films such as Gravity, Interstellar and Mars illustrate the moment of take-off of a renewed ambition which, after the short horizon of the shuttle programme - acknowledged as a mistake by NASA, as it focused on the Earth's orbit leave -, is linked to the logical sequence of perspectives opened up by man's arrival on the Moon: instructions lunar, manned trips to Mars and the colonisation of space.

At the level of the collective imagination, the new space age starts from the square where the previous one "ended", that day in December 1972 when Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 astronaut, left the moon. Somehow, in all this time there has been "the sadness of thinking that in 1973 we had reached the peak of our evolution as a species" and that afterwards it stopped: "while we were growing up we were promised rocket backpacks, and in exchange we got Instagram", notes the graphic commentary of one of the co-writers of Interstellar.

Something similar is what George W. Bush had expressed when in 2004 he commissioned NASA to start preparing for man's return to the moon: "In the last thirty years, no human being has set foot on another world or ventured into space beyond 386 miles [621 kilometres in altitude], roughly the distance from Washington, DC, to Boston, Massachusetts".

The year 2004 could be seen as the beginning of the new space age, not only because manned trips to the Moon and Mars are now back in NASA's sights, but also because it was the first milestone in private space exploration with the experimental flight of SpaceShipOne: it was the first private pilot's access to orbital space, something that until then had been considered the exclusive domain of the government.

The American priority then shifted from the Moon to some of the asteroids and then to Mars, with the journey to our satellite once again taking first place on the diary space website. By returning to the Moon, the idea of a "return" to space exploration takes on a special significance.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence EconomicsTrade and Technology Documents from work Global Space



[download the PDF of the full Journal ]


The horizon is up again:

Powers and companies fight for space


We are witnessing a new space age, which is here to stay. This time it is for real. It will not be a one-flower crop, like the arrival of humans on the moon, which is soon to wither away. The return of geopolitical tension to Earth also has its projection in space, conceived no longer as a place of incursion or strategic support territory but as a domain in its own right, of the same importance and proximity as the others (land, sea, air... and network). Although the space priority of the superpowers may be modulated according to the ups and downs of the International Office, such is mankind's dependence on artificial satellites that space is now a definitive part of our direct environment. However, it is the awakened economic interest in the business prospects of the space sector, manifested in the degree program of various private companies to take over activities that previously, due to the enormous budgetary requirements, were only undertaken by certain states, which ensures the continuity of a stage that is opening up not to close.

The horizon is back up there - return to the Moon, flight to Mars, asteroid mining - after the unsustained efforts of half a century ago. It is to this horizon that we wanted to dedicate this year's issue of Global Affairs Journal, following the launch of this monographic publication in 2019 with a focus on another issue of great strategic importance, the geopolitics of demography and the demographic challenges of the great powers. So welcome and bon voyage to the stars!






p. 5[PDF version].



Introduction of the GASS director

p. 6-13[PDF version].



Javier Gómez-Elvira

Director from department of INTA Payloads

p. 14-21[PDF version].




Luis V. Pérez Gil

Space Force Expert, University of La Laguna

p. 22-31[PDF version].




Emili J. Blasco

Professor of Applied Geopolitics, University of Navarra

p. 32-39[PDF version].




Mario Pereira

Professor of Law, University of Navarra

p. 40-54[PDF version].



L. V. Pérez Gil, E. J. Blasco

Ramón Barba, Ángel Martos

p. 54-56[PDF version].

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, also called Kartarpur Sahib, is a Sikh holy place in Kartarpur, in the Pakistani Punjab [Wikimedia Commons].

▲ Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, also called Kartarpur Sahib, is a Sikh holy place in Kartarpur, in the Pakistani Punjab [Wikimedia Commons].

ESSAY / Pablo Viana

Punjab region has been part of India until the year 1947, when the Punjab province of British India was divided in two parts, East Punjab (India) and West Punjab (Pakistan) due to religious reasons. After the division a lot of internal violence occurred, and many people were displaced.

East and West Punjab

The partition of Punjab proved to be one of the most violent, brutal, savage debasements in the history of humankind. The undivided Punjab, of which West Punjab forms a major region today, was home to a large minority population of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus unto 1947 apart from the Muslim majority[1]. This minority population of Punjabi Sikhs called for the creation of a new state in the 1970s, with the name of Khalistan, but it was detained by India, sending troops to stop the militants. Terrorist attacks against the Sikh majority emerged, by those who did not accept the creation of the state of Khalistan and wished to stay in India.

The Sikh population is the dominant religious ethnicity in East Punjab (58%) followed by the Hindu (39%). Sikhism and Islamism are both monotheistic religions, they do believe on the same concept of God, although it is different on each religion. Sikhism was developed during the 16th and 17th century in the context of conflict in between Hinduism and Islamism. It is important to mention Sikhism if we talk about Punjab, as its origins were in Punjab, but most important in recent times, is that the Guru Nanak Dev[2] was buried in Pakistani territory. Four kilometres from the international border the Sikh shrine was conceded to Pakistan at the time of British India's Partition in 1947. For followers of Sikhism this new border that cut through Punjab proved especially problematic. Sikhs overwhelmingly chose India over the newly formed Pakistan as the state that would best protect their interests (there are an estimated 50,000 Sikhs living in Pakistan today, compared to the 24 million in India). However, in making this choice, Sikhs became isolated from several holy sites, creating a religious disconnection that has proved a constant spiritual and emotional dilemma for the community[3].

In order to let the Sikhist population visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib[4], the Kartarpur Corridor was created in November 2019. However, there is an incessant suspicion in between India and Pakistan that question Pakistan motives. Although it seems like a generous move work of the Pakistani government, there is a clear perception that Pakistan is engaged in an act of deception[5]. Thus, although this scenario might seem at first beneficial for the rapprochement of East and West Punjab, it is not at all. Pakistan is involved in a rhetorical policy which could end up worsening its relations with India.

The division of Punjab in 1947 was like the division of Pakistan and India on that same year. Territorial disputes have been an issue that defines very well India-Pakistan relations since the independence. In the case of Punjab, there has not been a territorial discussion. The division was clear and has been respected ever since. Why would Pakistan and/or India be willing to unify Punjab? There is no reason. East and West Punjab represent two different nations and three religions. If we think about reunifying Pakistan and India, the conclusion is the same (although more dramatic); too many discrepancies and recent unrest to think about bringing back together the nations. However, if the Kartarpur Corridor could be placed out of bonds for the territorial disputes between Pakistan and India (e.g. Kashmir), Islamabad and New Delhi could use this situation as a model to find out which are the pressure points and trying to find a path for identifying common solutions. In order to achieve this, there should be a clear behaviour by both parties of cooperation. Sadly, in recent times both Pakistan and India have discrepancies regarding many topics and suspicious behaviours that clearly show that they won't be interested in complicating more the situation in Punjab searching for unification. The riots of 1947 left a terrific era on the region and now that both sides are established and no major disputes have emerged (except for Sikh nationalism), the situation should and will most likely remain as it is.

The Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory. Seen as one of the most successful international treaties, it has survived frequent tensions, including conflict, and has provided a framework for irrigation and hydropower development for more than half a century. The Treaty basically provides a mechanism for exchange of information and cooperation between Pakistan and India regarding the use of their rivers. This mechanism is well known as the Permanent Indus Commission. The Treaty also sets forth distinct procedures to handle issues which may arise: "questions" are handled by the Commission; "differences" are to be resolved by a Neutral Expert; and "disputes" are to be referred to a seven-member arbitral tribunal called the "Court of Arbitration." As a signatory to the Treaty, the World Bank's role is limited and procedural[6].    

Since 1948, India has been confident on the fact that East Punjab and the acceding states have a prior and superior claim to the rivers flowing through their territory. This leaves West Punjab in disadvantage regarding water resources, as East Punjab can access the highest sections of the rivers. Even under a unified control designed to ensure equitable distribution of water, in years of low river flow cultivators on tail distributaries always tended to accuse those on the upper reaches of taking an undue amount of the water, and after partition any temporary shortage, whatever the cause, could easily be attributed to political motives. It was therefore wise of Pakistan-indeed it became imperative-to cut the new feeder from the Ravi for this area and thus become independent of distributaries in East Punjab[7]. The Treaty acknowledges the control of the eastern rivers to India, and to the western rivers to Pakistan.

The main issue of water distribution in between East and West Punjab is then a matter of geography. Even though West Punjab covers more territory than East Punjab, and the water flow of West Punjab is almost three times the water flow of East Punjab rivers, the Indus Water Treaty gives the following advantage to India: since Pakistan rivers receive much more water flow from India, the treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unlimited use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture and this is where the disputes mainly came from, as Pakistan has objected all Indian hydro-electric projects on western rivers irrespective of size and layout.

It is worth mentioning that with the World Bank mediating the Treaty in between India and Pakistan, the water access will not be curtailed, and since the ratification of the Treaty, India and Pakistan have not engaged in any water wars. Although there have been many tensions the disputes have been via legal procedures, but they haven't caused any major cause for conflict. Today, both countries are strengthening their relationship, and the scenario is not likely to get worse, it is actually the opposite, and the Indus Water Treaty is one of the few livelihoods of the relationship. If the tensions do not cease, the World Bank should consider the possibility of amending the treaty, obviously if both Pakistan and India are willing to cooperate, although with the current environment, a renegotiation of the treaty would probably bring more complications. There is no shred of evidence that India has violated the Indus Water Treaty or that it is stealing Pakistan's water[8], although Pakistan does blame India for breaching the treaty, as shown before. This is pointed out by Hindu politicians as an attempt by Pakistan to divert the attention of its own public from the real issues of gross mismanagement of water resources[9].

Pakistan has a more hostile attitude regarding water distribution, trying to find a way to impeach India, meanwhile India focuses on the development of hydro-electric projects. India won't stop providing water to the West Punjab, as the treaty is still in force and is fulfilled by both parties. Pakistan should reconsider its role and its benefits received thanks to the treaty and meditate about the constant pressure towards India, as pushing over the limit could mean a more hostile activity carried out by India, which in the worst case scenario (although not likely to happen) could mean a breakdown of the treaty.

[1] The Punjab in 1920s - A Case study of Muslims, Zarina Salamat, Royal Book Company, Karachi, 1997. table 45, pp. 136.

[2] Guru Nanak Dev was the founder of Sikhism (1469-1540)

[3] Wyeth, G. (Dec 28, 2019). Opening the Gates: The Kartarpur Corridor. Australian Institute of International Affairs.

[4] Site where Guru Nanak Dev settled the Sikh community, and lived for 18 years after his death in 1539.

[5] Islamabad promoted the activity of Sikhs For Justice including the will to establish the state of Khalistan.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security and defence Testing

Attack in Kashmir linked to groups of Pakistani origin [tweeted by @ANI].

▲ Attack in Kashmir linked to groups of Pakistani origin [twitted by @ANI].

ESSAY / Isabel Calderas [Ignacio Lucas as research assistant].

There is a myriad of security concerns regarding external factors when it comes to Pakistan: India, Afghanistan, the Saudi Arabia-Iran split and the United States, to name a few. However, there are also two main concerns that come from within: jihadism and organised crime. They are interconnected but differ in many ways. The latter is frequently overlooked to focus on the former, but both have the capacity of affecting the country, internally and externally, as the effectiveness of dealing with them impacts the perception the international community has of Pakistan. While internally disrupting, these problems also have international reach, as such groups often export their activities, adversely affecting at a global scale. Therefore, international actors put so much pressure on Pakistan to control them. Historically, there has been much scepticism over the government's ability, or even willingness to solve these risks. We will examine both problems separately, identifying the impact they have on the national and international arena, as well as the government's approach to dealing with either and the future risks they entail.


Pakistan's education system has become a central part of the country's radicalization phenomenon[1], in the materialization of madrassas. These schools, which teach a more puritanical version of Islam than had traditionally been practiced in Pakistan, have been directly linked to the rise of jihadist groups[2]. Saudi Arabia, who has always had very close relations with Pakistan, played a key role in their development, by funding the Ahl-e-Hadith and Deobandi madrassas since the 1970s. The Iranian revolution bolstered the Saudi's imperative to control Sunnism in Pakistan, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan gave them the vehicle to do so[3]. In these schools, which teach a biased view of the world, students display low tolerance for minorities and are more likely to turn to jihadism.

Saudi and American funding of madrassas during the Soviet occupation helped the Pakistani army's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), become more powerful, as they channelled millions of dollars to them, a lot of which went into the madrassas which sent mujahedeen fighters to fight for their cause[4]. The Taliban's origins can also be traced to these, as the militia was raised mainly from Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan and Saudi-funded madrassas[5].

Madrassas are especially popular in the poorer provinces of the country, where parents send their children to them for several non-religious reasons. First, because the Qur'an is written in Arabic and madrassas teach this language[6]. The dire situation of many families forces millions of Pakistanis to migrate to neighbouring, oil-rich Arabic-speaking countries, from where they send remittances home to help support their families. Secondly, the public-school system in Pakistan is weak, often failing to teach basic reading skills[7], something the madrassas do teach.

Partly in response to the international pressure[8] it has been under to fight terrorism within its territory; Pakistan has tried to reform the madrassas. The government has stated its intention to bring madrassas under the umbrella of the education ministry, financing these schools by allocating cash otherwise destined to fund anti-terrorism security operations[9]. It plans to add subjects like science to the curriculum, to lessen the focus on Islamic teachings. However, this faces several challenges, among which the resistance from the teachers and clerical authorities who run the madrassas outstands[10].

Before moving on to the prominent radical groups in Pakistan, we would like to make a brief summary on a different cause of radicalization: the unintended effect of the drone strategy adopted by the United States.

The United States has increasingly chosen to target its radical enemies in Pakistan through the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which can be highly effective in neutralizing objectives, but also pose a series of risks, like the killing of innocent civilians that are in the neighbouring area. This American strategy, which Pakistan has publicly criticized, has fomented anti-American sentiment among the Pakistanis, at a ratio on average of every person killed resulting in the radicalization of several more people[11]. The growing unpopularity of drone strikes has further weakened relations between both governments, but shows no signs of changing in the future, if recent attacks carried by the U.S. are any indication. Pakistan's efforts to de-radicalize its population will continue to be undermined by the U.S. drone strikes[12].

Pakistan's anti-terrorism strategy is linked to its geostrategic and regional interests, especially dealing with its eastern and western neighbours[13]. There are many radical groups operating within their territory, and the government's strategy towards them shifts depending on their goal[14]. Groups like the Afghan Taliban, who target foreign invasions in their own country, and Al Qaeda, whose jihad against the West is on a global scale, have been allowed to use Pakistani territory to coordinate operations and take refuge. Their strategy is quite different for Pakistani Taliban group, Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) who, despite being allied with the Afghan Taliban, has a different goal: to oust the Pakistani government and impose Sharia law[15]. Most of the military's campaigns aimed at cracking down on radicals have been targeted at weakening groups affiliated with TTP. Lastly, there are those groups with whom some branches of the Pakistani government directly collaborate with.

Pakistan has been known to use jihadi organisations to advance its security objectives through proxy conflicts. Pakistan's policy of waging war through terrorist groups is planned, coordinated, and conducted by the Pakistani Army, specifically the ISI[16] who, as previously mentioned, plays a vital role in running the State.

Although this has been a longstanding cause of tension between the Pakistani and the American governments, the U.S. has made no progress in persuading or compelling the Pakistani military to sever ties with the radical groups[17], even though the Pakistani government has stated that it has, over the past year, 'fought and eradicated the menace of terrorism from its soil' by carrying out arrests, seizing property and freezing bank accounts of groups proscribed by the United States and the United Nations[18]. Their actions have been enough to keep them off the FATF's blacklist for financing terrorism and money laundering[19], which would prevent them from getting financing, but concerns remain about ISI's involvement with radical groups, the future of the relations between them, the overall activity of these groups from within Pakistani territory, and the risk of a future attack to its neighbours.

We will use two of Pakistan's main proxy groups, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, to analyse the feasibility of an attack in the near future.

1.1. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)

Created to support the resistance against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, LeT now focuses on the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Kashmir, the highest priorities for the Pakistani military's foreign policy. The Ahl-e-Hadith group is led by its founder, Hafiz Saeed. Its headquarters are in Punjab. Unlike its counterparts, it is a well-organized, unified, and hierarchical organization, which has become highly institutionalized in the last thirty years. As a result, it has not suffered any major losses or any fractures since its inception[20].

Since the Mumbai attacks in 2008 (which also involved ISI), for which LeT were responsible, its close relationship with the military has defined the group's operations, most noticeably by restraining their actions in India, which reflects both the Pakistani military's desire to avoid international pressure and conflict with their neighbour and the group's capability to contain its members. The group has calibrated its activities, although it possesses the capability to expand its violence. Its outlets for violence have been Afghanistan and Kashmir, which align with the Pakistani military's diary: to bring Afghanistan under Pakistan's sphere of influence while keeping India off-balance in Kashmir[21]. The recent U.S.-Taliban deal in Afghanistan and militarization of Kashmir by India may change this. LeT has benefited handsomely for its loyalty, receiving unparalleled protection, patronage, and privilege from the military. However, after twelve years of restraint, Lashkar undoubtedly faces pressures from within its ranks to strike against India again, especially now that Narendra Modi is prime minister.

1.2. Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM)

The Deobandi organisation, led by its founder Masood Azhar, has had close bonds with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban since they came into light in 2000. With the commencement of the war on terror in Afghanistan, JeM reciprocated by launching an attack on the Indian Parliament on December 2001, in cooperation with LeT. However, it ignored the Pakistani military's will in 2019 when it launched the Pulwama attack, after which the government of Pakistan launched a countrywide crackdown on them, taking leaders and members into preventive custody[22].

1.3. Risk assessment

Although it has gone rogue before, Jaish-e-Muhammad has been weakened by the recent government's crackdown. What remains of the group, consolidated under Masood Azhar, has repaired ties with the military. Although JeM has demonstrated it still possesses formidable capability in Indian Kashmir, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba represents the main concern for an attack on India in the near future.

Lashkar has been both the most reliable and loyal of all the proxy groups and has also proven it does not take major action without prior approval from the ISI, which could become a problem. Pakistan has adopted a policy of maintaining plausible deniability for any attacks in order to avoid international pressure after 9/11, thus LeT's close ties with the military make it more likely that its actions will provoke a war between the two countries.

The United States has tried for several years to get Pakistan to stop using proxies. There are several scenarios in which Lashkar would break from the Pakistani state (or vice versa), but they are farfetched and beyond foreign influence: a) a change in Pakistan's security calculus, b) a resolution on Kashmir, c) a shift in Lashkar's responsiveness and d) a major Lashkar attack in the West[23].

a) A change in Pakistan's security calculus is the least likely, as the India-centric understanding of Pakistan's interests and circumstances is deeply embedded in the psyche of the security establishment[24].

b) A resolution on Kashmir would trouble Lashkar, who seeks full unification of all Kashmir with Pakistan, which would not be the outcome of a negotiated resolution. More so, Modi's recent decision regarding article 370 puts this possibility even further into the future.

c) A shift in Lashkar responsiveness would be caused by the internal pressures to perform another attack, after more than a decade of abiding by the security establishment's will. If perceived as too powerful of insufficiently responsive, ISI would most likely seek to dismantle the group, as they did with Jaish-e-Muhammad, by focusing on the rogue elements and leaving Lashkar smaller but more responsive. This presents a threat, as the group would not allow itself to be simply dismantled but would probably resist to the point of becoming hostile[25].

d) The last option, a major Lashkar attack in the West, is also unlikely, as the group has not undertaken any major attack without perceived greenlight from ISI.

This does not mean that an attack from LeT can be ruled out. ISI could allow the group to carry out an attack if, in the absence of a better reason, it feels that the pressure from within the group will start causing dissent and fractures, just like it happened in 2008. It is in ISI's best interest that Lashkar remains a strong, united ally. Knowing this, it is important to note that a large-scale attack in India by Lashkar is arguably the most likely trigger to a full-blown conflict between the two nations. Even a smaller-scale attack has the potential of provoking India, especially under Modi.

If such an attack where to happen, India would not be expected to display a weak-kneed gesture, as PM Modi's policy is that of a tough and powerful approach in defence vis-à-vis both Pakistan and China. This has already been made evident by its retaliation for the Fidayeen attack at Uri brigade headquarters by Jaish-e-Muhammad in 2016[26]. It has now become evident that if Pakistan continues to harbour terrorist groups against India as its strategic assets, there will be no military restraint by India as long as Modi is in power, who will respond with massive retaliation. In its fragile economic condition, Pakistan will not be able to sustain a long-drawn war effort[27].

On the other hand, Afghanistan, which has been the other focus of Pakistan's proxy groups, is now undergoing a process which could result in a major organisational shift. The Taliban insurgent movement has been able survive this long due to the sanctuary and support provided by Pakistan[28]. Furthermore, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba's participation in the Afghan insurgency furthered the Pakistani military's goal of having a friendly, anti-India partner on its western border[29]. The development and outcome of the intra-Afghan talks will determine the continued use of proxies in the country. However, we can realistically assume that, at least in the near future, radical groups will maintain some degree of activity in Afghanistan.

It is highly unlikely that the Pakistani intelligence establishment will stop engaging with radical groups, as it sees in them a very useful strategic tool for achieving its security goals. However, Pakistan's plausible deniability approach will come into question, as its close ties with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba make it increasingly hard for it to deny involvement in its acts with any credibility. Regarding India, any kind of offensive from this group could result in a large-scale conflict. This is precisely the most likely scenario to occur, as Modi's history with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and their twelve-year-long "hiatus" from impactful attacks could propel the organisation to take action that will impact the whole region.


Drug trafficking constitutes an important problem for Pakistan. It originates in Afghanistan, from where thousands of tonnes are smuggled out every year, using Pakistan as a passageway to provide the world with heroin and opioids[30]. The following concept map has been elaborated with information from diverse sources[31] to present the different aspects of the problem aimed to better comprehend the complex situation.


Source: Encyclopedia Britannica


Afghanistan, one of the world's largest heroin producers, has supplied up to 60% and 80% of the U.S. and European markets, respectively. The landlocked country takes advantage of its blurred border line, and the remoteness and inaccessibility of the sparsely populated bordering regions with Pakistan, using it as a conduit to send its drugs globally. The Pakistani government is under a lot of pressure from the international community to fight and minimise drug trafficking from its territory.

Pakistan feels a special kind of pressure from the European Union, as its GSP+ status could be affected if it does not control this problem. The GSP+ is dependent on the implementation of 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance, including the UN Convention on Fighting Illegal Drugs[32]. Pakistan was granted GSP+ status in 2014 and has shown commitment to maintaining ratifications and meeting reporting obligations to the UN Treaty bodies[33]. However, one of the aspects of the scheme is its "temporary withdrawal and safeguard" measure, which means the preferences can be immediately withdrawn if the country is unable to control drug trafficking effectively[34]. This has not been the case, and the EU has recognised Pakistan's efforts in the fight on drugs; the UN has also removed it from the list of cannabis resin production countries[35]. Anti-corruption frameworks have been strengthened, along with legislation review and awareness building, but they have been advised that better coordination between law enforcement agencies is needed[36].

The GSP+ status is very important to Pakistan, as the European Union is their first trade partner, absorbing over a third of their total exports in 2018, followed by the U.S., China and Afghanistan[37]. The Union can use this as leverage to obtain concessions from Pakistan. However, the approach they have taken so far has been of collaboration in many areas, including transnational organised crime, money laundering and counter-narcotics[38]. In this sense, the EU ambassador to Pakistan recently stated that the new Strategic Engagement Plan of 2019 would "further boost their relations in diverse fields"[39].

Even with combined efforts, eradicating the drug trafficking problem in Pakistan has proven to be very difficult. This is because production of the drug is not done in its territory, and even if border patrols are strengthened, it will be very hard to stop drugs from coming in from its neighbour if the Afghan government doesn't take appropriate measures themselves.


Source: Encyclopedia Britannica


A "5 whys" exercise has led us to understand that the root cause of the problem is the fact that most farmers in Afghanistan are too poor to turn to different crops. A nearly two decade war has ravaged the country's land, leaving opium crops, which are cheaper and easier to maintain, as the only option for most farmers in this agrarian nation. A substantial investment in the country's agriculture to produce more economic options would be needed if any serious advance is expected to be made in stopping illegal drug trafficking. These investments will have to be a joint effort of the international community, and funding for the government will also be necessary, if stability is to be reached. Unless this is done, opium will likely remain entangled in the rural economy, the Taliban insurgency, and the government corruption whose sum is the Afghan conundrum.[40]. And as long as this does not happen, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will be able to make any substantial progress in its effort to fight illicit drugs.

[1] Khurshid Khan and Afifa Kiran, "Emerging Tendencies of Radicalization in Pakistan," Strategic Studies, vol. 32, 2012.

[2] Hassan N. Gardezi, "Pakistan: The Power of Intelligence Agencies," South Asia Citizenz Web, 2011,

[3] Madiha Afzal, "Saudi Arabia's Hold on Pakistan," 2019,

[4] Gardezi, "Pakistan: The Power of Intelligence Agencies."

[5] Ibid.

[6] Myriam Renaud, "Pakistan's Plan to Reform Madrasas Ignores Why Parents Enrol Children in First Place," The Globe Post, May 20, 2019,

[7] Ibid.

[8] Drazen Jorgic and Asif Shahzad, "Pakistan Begins Crackdown on Mlitant Groups amid Global Pressure," Reuters, March 5, 2019,

[9] Saad Sayeed, "Pakistan Plans to Bring 20,000 Madrasas under Government Control," Reuters, April 29, 2019.

[10] Renaud, "Pakistan's Plan to Reform Madrasas Ignores Why Parents Enrol Children in First Place".

[11] International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clininc (Stanford Law Review) and Global Justice Clinic (NYE School of Law), "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan," 2012,

[12] Saba Noor, "Radicalization to De-Radicalization: The Case of Pakistan," Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses 5, no. 8 (2013): 16-19.

[13] Muhammad Iqbal Roy and Abdul Rehman, "Pakistan's Counter Terrorism Strategy (2001-2019): Evolution, Paradigms, Prospects and Challenges," Journal of Politics and International Studies 5, no. July-December (2019): 1-13.

[14] Madiha Afzal, "A Country of Radicals? Not Quite," in Pakistan Under Siege: Extremism, Society, and the State (Brookings Institution Press, 2018), 208,

[15] Ibid.

[16] John Crisafulli et al., "Recommendations for Success in Afghanistan," 2019,

[17] Tricia Bacon, "The Evolution of Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Tayyiba," Orbis, no. Winter (2019): 27-43.

[18] Susannah George and Shaiq Hussain, "Pakistan Hopes Its Steps to Fight Terrorism Will Keep It off a Global Blacklist," The Washington Post, February 21, 2020.

[19] Husain Haqqani, "FAFT's Grey List Suits Pakistan's Jihadi Ambitions. It Only Worries Entering the Black List," Hudson Institute, February 28, 2020.

[20] Bacon, "The Evolution of Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Tayyiba."

[21] Ibid.

[22] Farhan Zahid, "Profile of Jaish-e-Muhammad and Leader Masood Azhar," Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses 11, no. 4 (2019): 1-5,

[23] Tricia Bacon, "Preventing the Next Lashkar-e-Tayyiba Attack," The Washington Quarterly 42, no. 1 (2019): 53-70.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Abhinav Pandya, "The Future of Indo-Pak Relations after the Pulwama Attack," Perspectives on Terrorism 13, no. 2 (2019): 65-68,

[27] Ibid.

[28] Crisafulli et al., "Recommendations for Success in Afghanistan."

[29] Bacon, "The Evolution of Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Tayyiba."

[30] Alfred W McCoy, "How the Heroin Trade Explains the US-UK Failure in Afghanistan," The Guardian, January 9, 2018,

[31] Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray and Dr. Shanthie Mariet D Souza, "The Afghanistan-India Drug Trail - Analysis," Eurasia Review, August ,; Mehmood Hassan Khan, "Kashmir and Power Politics," Defence Journal 23, no. 2. 2 (2019); McCoy, "How the Heroin Trade Explains the US-UK Failure in Afghanistan"; Pakistan United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Country Office, "Illicit Drug Trends in Pakistan," 2008, Drug Trends Report_Pakistan_rev1.pdf; "Country Profile - Pakistan," United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 2020,

[32] European Commission, "Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)," 2020,

[33] High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, 'The EU Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance ('GSP+') Assessment of Pakistan Covering the Period 2018-2019' (Brussels, 2020).

[34] Dr. Zobi Fatima, "A Brief Overview of GSP+ for Pakistan," Pakistan Journal of European Studies 34, no. 2 (2018),

[35] High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, "The EU Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance ('GSP+') Assessment of Pakistan Covering the Period 2018-2019".

[36] Fatima, "A Brief Overview of GSP+ for Pakistan."

[37] UN Comtrade Analytics, "Trade Dashboard," accessed March 27, 2020,

[38] European External Action Services, 'EU-Pakistan Five Year Engagement Plan' (European Union, 2017),; European Union External Services, 'EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan 2019' (European Union, 2019),

[39] "EU Ready to Help Pakistan in Expanding Its Reports: Androulla," Business Recorder, October 23, 2019.

[40] McCoy, "How the Heroin Trade Explains the US-UK Failure in Afghanistan".

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security and defence Testing

Prime Minister Imran Kahn, at the United Nations General Assembly, in 2019 [UN].

Prime Minister Imran Kahn, at the United Nations General Assembly, in 2019 [UN].

ESSAY / M. Biera, H. Labotka, A. Palacios

The geographical location of a country is capable of determining its destiny. This is the thesis defended by Whiting Fox in his book "History from a Geographical Perspective". In particular, he highlights the importance of the link between history and geography in order to point to a determinism in which a country's aspirations are largely limited (or not) by its physical place in the world.[1]

Countries try to overcome these limitations by trying to build on their internal strengths. In the case of Pakistan, these are few, but very relevant in a regional context dominated by the balance of power and military deterrence.

The first factor that we highlight in this sense is related to Pakistan's nuclear capacity. In spite of having officially admitted it in 1998, Pakistan has been a country with nuclear capacity, at least, since Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's government started its nuclear program in 1974 under the name of Project-706 as a reaction to the once very advanced Indian nuclear program.[2]

The second factor is its military strength. Despite the fact that they have publicly refused to participate in politics, the truth is that all governments since 1947, whether civilian or military, have had direct or indirect military support. [3] The governments of Ayub Khan or former army chief Zia Ul-Haq, both through a coup d'état, are faithful examples of this capacity for influence.[4]

The existence of an efficient army provides internal stability in two ways: first, as a bastion of national unity. This effect is quite relevant if we take into account the territorial claims arising from the ethnic division caused by the Durand Line. Secondly, it succeeds in maintaining the state's monopoly on force, preventing its disintegration as a result of internal ethnic disputes and terrorism instigated by Afghanistan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA region).[5]

Despite its internal strengths, Pakistan is located in one of the most insecure geographical areas in the world, where border conflicts are intermingled with religious and identity-based elements. Indeed, the endless conflict over Kashmir against India in the northeastern part of the Pakistani border or the serious internal situation in Afghanistan have been weighing down the country for decades, both geo-politically and economically. The dynamics of regional alliances are not very favourable for Pakistan either, especially when US preferences, Pakistan's main ally, seem to be mutating towards a realignment with India, Pakistan's main enemy.[6] 

On the positive side, a number of projects are underway in Central Asia that may provide an opportunity for Pakistan to re-launch its economy and obtain higher standards of stability domestically. The most relevant is the New Silk Road undertaken by China. This project has Pakistan as a cornerstone in its strategy in Asia, while it depends on it to achieve an outlet to the sea in the eastern border of the country and investments exceeding 11 billion dollars are expected in Pakistan alone[7]. In this way, a realignment with China can help Pakistan combat the apparent American disengagement from Pakistani interests.

For all these reasons, it is difficult to speak of Pakistan as a country capable of carving out its own destiny, but rather as a country held hostage to regional power dynamics. Throughout this document, a review of the regional phenomena mentioned will be made in order to analyze Pakistan's behavior in the face of the different challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.


Right after the downfall of the British colony of the East Indies colonies in 1947 and the partition of India the Dominion of Pakistan was formed, now known by the title of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Partition of India divided the former British colony into two separate territories, the Dominion of Pakistan and the Dominion of India. By then, Pakistan included East Pakistan (modern day) Pakistan and Oriental Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh).

It is interesting to point out that the first form of government that Pakistan experienced was something similar to a democracy, being its founding father and first Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Political history in Pakistan consists of a series of eras, some democratically led and others ruled by the military branch which controls a big portion of the country.

-The rise of Pakistan as a Muslim democracy: 1957-1958. The era of Ali Jinnah and the First Indo-Pakistani war.

-In 1958 General Ayub Khan achieved to complete a coup d'état in Pakistan due to the corruption and instability.

-In 1971 General Khan resigned his position and appointed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as president, but, lasted only 6 years. The political instability was not fruitful and rivalry between political parties was. But in 1977 General Zia-ul-Haq imposed a new order in Pakistan.

-From 1977 to 1988 Zia-ul-Haq imposed an Islamic state.

-In the elections of 1988 right after Zia-ul-Haq's death, President Benazir Bhutto became the very first female leader of Pakistan. This period, up to 1999 is characterized by its democracy but also, by the Kargil War.

-In 1999 General Musharraf took control of the presidency and turned it 90º degrees, opening its economy and politics. In 2007 Musharraf announced his resignation leaving open a new democratic era characterized by the War on Terror of the United States in Afghanistan and the Premiership of Imran Khan.



Human and physical geography

The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad, and as of 2012 houses a population of 1.9 million people. While the national language of Pakistan is English, the official language is Urdu; however, it is not spoken as a native language. Afghanistan is Pakistan's neighbour to the northwest, with China to the north, as well as Iran to the west, and India to the east and south.[8]

Pakistan is unique in the way that it possesses many a geological formation, like forests, plains, hills, etcetera. It sits along the Arabian Sea and is home to the northern Karakoram mountain range, and lies above Iranian, Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. There are three dominant geographical regions that make up Pakistan: the Indus Plain, which owes its name to the river Indus of which Pakistan's dominant rivers merge; the Balochistan Plateau, and the northern highlands, which include the 2nd highest mountain peak in the world, and the Mount Godwin Austen. [9] Pakistan's traditional regions are a consequence of progression. These regions are echoed by the administrative distribution into the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which includes FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and Balochistan.

Each of these regions is "ethnically and linguistically distinct."[10] But why is it important to understand Pakistan's geography? The reason is, and will be discussed further in detail in this paper, the fact that "terror is geographical" and Pakistan is "at the epicenter of the neo-realist, militarist geopolitics of anti-terrorism and its well-known manifestation the 'global war on terror'..."[11]But why is it important to understand Pakistan's geography?

Punjabi make up more than 50% of the ethnic division in Pakistan, and the smallest division is the Balochi. We should note that Balochistan, however small, is an antagonistic region for the Pakistani government. The reason is because it is a "base for many extremist and secessionist groups". This is also important because CPEC, the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor, is anticipated to greatly impact the area, as a large portion of the initiative is to be constructed in that region. The impact of CPEC is hoped to make that region more economically stable and change the demography of this region.[12]

The majority of Pakistani people are Sunni Muslims, and maintain Islamic tradition. However, there is a significant number of Shiite Muslims. Religion in Pakistan is so important that it is represented in the government, most obviously within the Islamic Assembly (Jamāʿat-i Islāmī) party which was created in 1941.[13]The Islamic Assembly is the largest Islamic party in Pakistan.

This is important. The reason being is that there is a history of sympithism for Islamic extremism by the government, and giving rise to the expansion of the ideas of this extremism. Historically, Pakistan has not had a strict policy against jihadis, and this lack of policy has poorly affected Pakistan's foreign policy, especially its relationship with the United States, which will be touched upon in this paper.

Current Situation: Domestic politics, the military and the economy

Imran Khan was elected and took office on August 18th, 2018. Before then, the previous administrations had been overshadowed by suspicions of corruption. What also remained important was the fact that his election comes after years of a dominating political power, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Imran Khan's party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) surfaced as the majority in the Pakistan's National Assembly. However, there is some discussion by specialists on how prepared the new prime minister is to take on this extensive task.

Economically, Pakistan was in a bad shape even before the global Coronavirus-related crisis. In October 2019, the IMF predicted that the country's GDP would increase only 2.4% in 2020, compared with 5.2% registered in 2017 and 5.5% in 2018; inflation would arrive to 13% in 2020, three times the registered figure of 2017 and 2018, and gross debt would peak at 78.6%, ten points up from 2017 and 2018.[14] This context led to the Pakistani government to ask for a loan to the IMF, and a $6 billion loan was agreed in July 2019. In addition, Pakistan got a $2 billion from China. Later on, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the IMF worsened its estimations on Pakistan's economy, and predicted that its GDP would grow minus 1.5% in 2020 and 2% in 2021.

Throughout its history, Pakistan has been a classic example of a "praetorian state", where the military dominates the political institutions and regular functioning. The political evolution is represented by a routine change "between democratic, military, or semi military regime types". There were three critical pursuits towards a democratic state that are worth mentioning, that started in 1972 and resulted in the rise of democratically elected leaders. In addition to these elections, the emergence of new political parties also took place, permitting us to make reference to Prime Minister Imran Khan's party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).[16]

Civilian - military relations are characterized by the understanding that the military is what ensures the country's "national sovereignty and moral integrity". There resides the ambiguity: the intervention of the military regarding the institution of a democracy, and the sabotage by the same military leading it to its demise. In addition to this, to the people of Pakistan, the military has retained the impression that the government is incapable of maintaining a productive and functioning state, and is incompetent in its executing of pertaining affairs. The role of the military in Pakistani politics has hindered any hope of the country implementing a stable democracy. To say the least, the relationship between the government and the resistance is a consistent struggle.[17]

The military has extended its role today with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The involvement of the military has affected "four out of five key areas of civilian control". Decision making was an area that was to be shared by the military and the people of Pakistan, but has since turned into an opportunity for the military to exercise its control due to the fact that CPEC is not only a "corporate mega project" but also a huge economic opportunity, and the military in Pakistan continues to be the leading force in the creation of the guidelines pertaining to national defense and internal security. Furthermore, accusations of corruption have not helped; the Panama Papers were "documents [exposing] the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders."[18] These findings further the belief that Pakistan's leaders are incompetent and incapable of effectively governing the country, and giving the military more of a reason to continue and increase its interference. In consequence, the involvement of civilians in policy making is declining steadily, and little by little the military seeks to achieve complete autonomy from the government, and an increased partnership with China. It is safe to say that CPEC would have been an opportunity to improve military and civilian relationships, however it seems to be an opportunity lost as it appears the military is creating a government capable of functioning as a legitimate operation.[19]


[1] Gottmann, J., & Fox, E. W. (1973). History in Geographic Perspective: The Other France. Geographical Review.

[2] Tariq Ali (2009). The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power.

[3] Marquina, A. (2010). The European Union's Security and Defence Policy. 28, 441-446.

[4] Tariq Ali (2009). Ibid.

[5] Sánchez de Rojas Díaz, E. (2016).Is Pakistan one of the most conflictive countries in the world? The origins of terrorism in Pakistan.

[6] Ríos, X. (2020). India aligns with the US

[8] Szczepanski, Kallie,"Pakistan: Facts and History". ThoughtCo. 

[9] Pakistan Insider. "Pakistan's Geography, Climate, and Environment."Pakistan Insider, February 9, 2012.

[10] Burki, Shahid Javed, and Lawrence Ziring. "Pakistan." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., March 6, 2020.

[11] Mustafa, Daanish, Nausheen Anwar, and Amiera Sawas. "Gender, Global Terror, and Everyday Violence in Urban Pakistan." Elsevier. Elsevier Ltd., December 4, 2018.

[12] Bhattacharjee, Dhrubajyoti. "China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)." Indian Council of World Affairs, May 12, 2015.

[13] Burki, Shahid Javed, and Lawrence Ziring. Ibid.

[14] IMF, "Economic Outlook", October 2019.

[15] IMF, "World Economic Outlook", April 2020.

[16] Wolf, Siegfried O. "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Civil-Military Relations and Democracy in Pakistan." SADF Working Paper, no. 2 (September 13, 2016).

[17] Ibid.

[18] "Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption." The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, April 3, 2016. 

[19] Wolf, Siegfried O. Ibid.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

Propaganda poster extolling Gaddafi, near Ghadames, 2004 [Sludge G., Wikipedia].

Propaganda poster extolling Gaddafi, near Ghadames, 2004 [Sludge G., Wikipedia].

ESSAYPaula Mora

On 20 October 2011, Colonel Muammar Muhamad Abu-Minyar al-Qadhafi was assassinated, bringing an end to a dictatorial regime that lasted more than forty years. That date signified hope, freedom and democracy, or at least those were the aspirations of many of those who contributed to change in Libya. However, the reality today, nine years later, is almost unimaginable for those rebels who on 23 October 2011 thought their children could grow old in a democracy. The civil war that the country has suffered since then has led to the disintegration of the nation. To understand this, it is paramount to understand the very nature of Libyan political power, which is totally different from that of its neighbours and former metropolises: tribalism.

Libyan tribalism has three characteristics: it is contractual, as it is based on permanent negotiations; the territorial instructions of the peoples have been moving towards the cities, but the ties have not been loosened; and the territorial extension of these peoples goes beyond Libya's borders. Ninety percent of Libya's territory is made up of desert, which has allowed tribal power to persist. The original peoples have fought, and continue to fight, for territorial control and harmony of their territories, which is achieved through traditional alliances renegotiated from time to time between the three main regions of the country: Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezran.

Tuareg tropism

Bedouin culture and mythology from pre-colonial trans-Saharan cave times explain why Qadhafi focused his policy on the Sahara and North Africa. These peoples saw the desert as a means of communication, not as an obstacle or a border. Under the dictatorship, Berber customs and speech were protected and promoted.

The Tuareg are a Berber people with a nomadic tradition spread over five African countries: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali and Niger. They have their own language and customs. In Libya, they occupy the south-western territory along the borders of Algeria, Tunisia and Niger. The dictator proclaimed on numerous occasions his affinity with these people, even claiming to belong to this lineage on his mother's side. He considered them allies of his pan-Africanist project .

Gaddafi did not see himself as the leader of the movement, but as a "guide" of the revolution. Over time, however, this revolutionary vision was tempered by a realist and pacifying vision. This change was mainly due to the Tuareg's inability to overcome internal (tribal) divisions and their willingness to abandon the armed struggle. The consequences were that what began as a national and social struggle degenerated into drug and arms trafficking.

Italian colonialism

In April 1881, France occupied Tunisia. This provoked resentment in Italy, as the regency of Tunisia was intended as a natural extension of Italy, given that 55,000 Italians resided in the territory. In view of this status, and to avoid a confrontation with France, Italy then decided to create a Libyan project . In 1882, Italy, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire created the Triple Alliance. As a consequence, France opposed Italy's Libyan project .

Faced with France's civil service examination plans in Libya, Italy sought redress in the Red Sea and in 1886 tried, unsuccessfully, to conquer Ethiopia. But the Italian nationalism of the time was not about to give up, as it aspired to create "a greater Italy". After the Ethiopian victory, there were only two African alternatives left: Morocco, which had already been practically colonised by France, or the Turkish Regency in Tripoli, which had been in place since 1858.

In the end, Italy opted for the latter and in 1902 sought France's support to carry out its project. Under the Triple Alliance compromise, it offered neutrality on the shared Alpine border in the event of war and Withdrawal to the Moroccan project . Paris was not interested, but in 1908 Russia offered its support to Italy to weaken the Ottoman Empire. Thus began the Italo-Turkish war. The Italian pretext was the alleged mistreatment of the settlers in Libya by the Turkish regime, to which it gave an ultimatum. Under Austro-Hungarian mediation, the Turks agreed to transfer control of Libya to Italy, a move that Italy considered a Turkish manoeuvre aimed only at buying time to prepare for war. On 29 September 1911, Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire. This had important consequences for the Triple Alliance, as Austria-Hungary feared that the Libyan conflict would escalate into a direct conflict with the Ottoman Empire, while Germany was faced with the dilemma of having to choose sides, as it enjoyed good relations with both sides. On 18 October 1912, due to the dangers on several fronts, the Ottoman Empire decided to sign the Treaty of Lausanne-Ouchy, ceding Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and the Dodecanese islands to Italy.

During World War I, Italy was part of the Triple Entente, so the Ottoman Empire did not declare war on it. The threat to Italian control of Libya was not so much among its European enemies, but among the population of Libya itself. Taking advantage of the war, the Sanûsiya (a Muslim religious order founded under the Ottoman Empire and opposed to colonisation) began to attack the Italian army. These rebels gradually gained territory, until Italy's allies went on the offensive. On 21 August 1915, the day Italy switched to the Allies, tactics changed. Although also offering support, Italy's new allies were dealing with insurgencies in their colonies, and were primarily concerned with guarding their borders to prevent insurgents from crossing and spreading pro-independence ideas.

On 17 April 1917, Emir Idris As-Sanûsi, an ally of the Ottoman Empire, realising that Allied victory was near, signed the Pact of Acroma with Italy, whereby Italy recognised the autonomy of Cyrenaica and in exchange the Emir accepted Italian control of Tripolitania.


Geographical distribution of ethnicities in Libya [Wikipedia].

Geographical distribution of ethnicities in Libya [Wikipedia].


Colonial independence

World War II played a role core topic in Africa, encouraging nationalism on the continent. Italy, allied with Germany, attempted between 1940 and 1942 to occupy the Suez Canal across the Libyan border, but goal was not successful.

In 1943, Libya fell into the hands of the Free French (Charles de Gaulle's) and Britain: the former administered Fezán, the latter Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. At the end of the war, with Italy changing sides in the course of the war, Italy proposed a tripartite division of Libya. The United States and the Soviet Union opposed this, and stipulated that the territory would be placed under the aegis of the United Nations (UN). Two political positions were then opposed in Libya: on the one hand, the "progressives", who advocated the creation of a unitary democratic state, and on the other, the original peoples of Cyrenaica, who advocated a kingdom whose leader would be Mohammed Idris As-Sanûsi, the leader of the Sanûsiya.

On 21 November 1949, through Resolution 289, the United Nations set Libya's independence for 1 January 1952. Without taking into account any geographical, historical, religious, cultural and political realities, the UN imposed the birth of a sovereign country made up of the three main independent regions. In 1950, the National Assembly was elected, composed of 60 deputies (20 from each region). On 2 December of the same year, after arduous negotiations, the Assembly agreed that Libya would be a federal monarchy made up of three provinces, with Mohammed Idriss As-Sanûsi as King.

Initially, the Kingdom was able to establish itself given international recognition and the finding oilfields that allowed Libya to become the richest country on the continent. This optimism, however, concealed the fact that Libya's real problem lay within its borders: the country was ruled by the original peoples of Cyrenaica. To balance power, the king decided to appoint Mahmoud el-Montasser, a Tripolitanian, as prime minister.

However, the king made the mistake of basing his monarchy not on the Sanûsiya, but on his tribe, the Barasa. The regime became totalitarian. After pro-Nasser demonstrations, the king banned political parties in 1952 and dismissed more than ten governors, who were replaced by prefects. On the foreign relations front, under Idriss, Libya signed a 20-year alliance with Britain under which the British could use the Libyan military instructions . With the United States, it signed a similar one that granted the Americans permission to build the Wheelus Field base near Tripoli. Finally, it signed a peace treaty with Italy in which the former metropolis agreed to pay reparations as long as Libya protected the property of the 27,000 Italians still living there. These measures brought the kingdom to its doom, as its neighbours and population felt that the king was not showing solidarity with Egypt by aligning himself with the West.

The fall of the monarchy

On 1 September 1969, a coup d'état took place in Libya to overthrow Idriss, who, seriously ill, announced his abdication the following day. The committee Commander of the Revolution (CCR), made up of the officers who had brought about this change of government, abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the Libyan Arab Republic. The military board that established itself in power was composed of a dozen members, mostly from the two main original peoples: the Warfalla and the Maghara. The latter were of Marxist ideology, which led to the regime of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi.

During the first weeks of government, the new leaders tried to take every possible precaution to avoid British and American intervention. They issued a statement guaranteeing the safety of foreigners' property and promising that the oil companies would not be nationalised. In view of these statements, which were not in line with communism, the United States and the West recognised the new government on 6 September.

The new government's real intentions emerged soon after. Within a month of statement, the Libyan authorities announced that previous treaties relating to the military instructions would have to be renegotiated. They also called for a renegotiation of the taxation of oil companies. Finally, in 1971, a single party was created: the Arab Socialist Union.

Gaddafi's government

On 15 April 1973, almost four years after the coup d'état of '69, Gaddafi gave a speech on speech in which he invited the "popular masses" to take back the power seized by the Arab Socialist Union party. He imposed himself as the head of the country, promoting a cultural and political revolution that proposed, on the one hand, a reform of the institutions with a stricter application of the precepts of the shariaOn the other hand, the idea that the aggressors of the people were the Arab countries allied with the West and Israel.

Gaddafi based his power on a profound tribal recomposition. The first step he took, the day after taking power, distrustful of Cyrenaica and its tribes loyal to King Idriss, was to form an alliance with the people of Hada, seeking to balance the power of the Barasa.

Secondly, he divorced his Turkish-Kouloughli wife, who was an obstacle to the alliances with the peoples he needed to expand his power base. He then married a woman from Firkeche, a segment of the Barasa tribe. This marriage allowed him to build an alliance between the Qadhafa and the large tribes of Cyrenaica linked to the Barasa.

Third, he also built an alliance with the Misrata, a literate elite that subsequently occupied many of the regime's posts. Over time, however, this alliance broke down and led to a growth of hatred towards the colonel that was to play a major role in the revolution that brought down Gaddafi.

Fourthly, after losing Misrata, Gaddafi recomposed his strategy by relying on his own confederation, that of the Awlad Sulaymans, enemies of Misrata since the time of Italian rule. This alliance covered the city of Tripoli and geographically extended the ruler's territory.

Fifth, the ruler's problem would be the result of the previous points: tribal alliances. Fractions of his allies conspired against him in 1973 to attempt a coup d'état. Gaddafi's army, however, prevented it and condemned the ringleaders to death. From this point on, the colonel began to distrust the tribes of this region, Tripolitania, and gradually began to break off relations with them. This would prove fatal to him.

Gaddafi facing the world

International activism under Qadhafi sought the fusion of Arab peoples with the goal aim of creating a transnational caliphate. In 1972, although he did not yet control all of Libyan territory, he contributed to the creation of the Union of Arab Republics (Libya, Egypt and Syria), which was dissolved in 1977. In 1984, it created the Libyan-Moroccan Union, which disappeared two years later. Four other attempts were made: with Tunisia in 1974, with Chad in 1981, with Algeria in 1988 and with Sudan in 1990; none of them succeeded. These attempts at union caused tensions on the continent, particularly with Egypt, with which there was a border dispute from 21-24 July 1977. As a result, the mutual border was closed until March 1989.

As for the rest of the world, the dictator's support for terrorist movements during the 1980s made him enemies, especially the United States, Britain and France. committee Several attacks by the Libyan regime, such as the shooting down of an American plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie and the assassination of ambassadors, led the UN Security Council in 1992 to adopt a policy of trade and financial sanctions and embargoes. This was compounded by the socialist orientation of the colonel, who nationalised the oil companies and assets of Italian residents on the grounds that they had been stolen during the colonial era.

The fall of the regime

Over time, the regime lost power and national support. This decline was due to the march of the Economics, as citizens benefited from direct hydrocarbon revenues: health care and Education were free, and agriculture was subsidised. In addition, there was the project to create a "great river" (Great Man Made RiverGMMR), of 4,000 kilometres. At summary, the five million inhabitants had an exceptional life, with a GDP per capita of €3,000 in 2011.

The main civil service examination came from Islamic circles, more specifically from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups (Sunni Islamic ultra-right movement), who from 1995 onwards were radicalised by the financial aid groups from Afghanistan. Their reasons for opposing Gaddafi were the westernisation The country's first major change was to leave behind Tuareg tropism to some extent and turn towards the countries of the North. In the same year, an Islamist rebellion broke out, initiated by the Front for the Liberation of Libya in Cyrenaica. Qadhafi responded with a major crackdown, establishing anti-Islamic laws that punished anyone who did not denounce the Islamists and closing down most of the zawiya (religious schools and monasteries), especially those of the Sanûsiya.

In 2003, Libya acknowledged its involvement in the Lockerbie bombing and undertook to compensate all victims. This led to the lifting of sanctions by the UN Security Council at committee . In December of the same year, the country renounced the production of weapons of mass destruction and in 2004 acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. With these new measures, the regime gradually allied itself with Western countries, which in turn promoted the industrialisation of the country. One example was the treaty signed between Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whereby Italy pledged to reimburse Libya $5 billion over a 25-year period, provided that Libya opened up to the Italian market and avoided illegal immigration to Europe.

Libya did not experience "the Arab Spring", as it was suffering from a civil war born in Cyrenaica, which began as an uprising of a Berber minority living near the Tunisian border. Qadhafi, fearful of spoiling the good image he had finally managed to build in the international community, decided not to use military force to re-establish his power in Cyrenaica, but as time went on he had no choice but to do so. This action led to what he already knew: international outcry.

The first country to oppose was Nicolas Sarkozy's France. Under the pretext of humanitarian interference, France, together with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries, decided to destroy the Gaddafi regime. In March 2011 they recognised the Transitional National committee (TNC). The African Union also wanted a change of government, but nevertheless advocated that this should be done through negotiation, in order to avoid negative consequences such as the disintegration of the state. 

In February 2011, the colonel was confronted with a triple uprising. In Cyrenaica, by the jihadists (remember the anti-Islamic laws), who were also supported by Turkey and the local mafias, who felt threatened by the Italian-Libyan agreement on migration. In Tripolitania, by the Berbers, who now saw their identity denied in favour of the defence of Arab nationalism. Finally, also in Misrata, the area had a score to settle with the dictator since 1975 (tribal conflict). staff

Gaddafi took preventive measures, such as banning demonstrations and suspending sporting events, and announced pro-people social reforms, thinking that these were grievances that would not go unchallenged. His analytical error was to think that the protest had a social motive, while its reasons were tribal, regional, political and religious subject .

The government was able to control status for a month, until on 15 February the violence escalated into a full-blown civil war.

Foreign interference began on 17 March, when the French foreign minister promoted Resolution 1973 at the UN Security Council's committee , which authorised the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya, as well as the imposition of "necessary measures" to provide protection for civilians. This resolution excluded land occupation, and was supported by the Arab League, with military air support from Qatar.

A few days later, on 21 March, the intervention of NATO countries went beyond the guidelines of Resolution 1973, as Gaddafi's residency program was bombed under the pretext that it served as a command centre. The African Union, supported by Russia, called for an "immediate cessation of all hostilities". For its part, the Arab League reminded NATO that it was deviating from its stated objectives. Western countries, however, did not listen. On 31 March, through his son Saif al-Islam, the colonel proposed a referendum on the establishment of democracy in Libya. NATO was willing to consider his proposals, but the National Transitional committee was adamantly opposed, demanding simply that Gaddafi be removed from power.

mission statement On 16 September, the committee Security Council, through Resolution 2009, created the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Its goal was attend to the national authorities for the restoration of security and the rule of law, through the promotion of political dialogue and national reconciliation.

The "liberation" of the country took place on 23 October 2011, when Gaddafi was captured on his way to Fezzan, accompanied by his son. His convoy was attacked by NATO air forces. He was taken prisoner and subsequently lynched by his countrymen. The president of the Transitional National committee , Mustapha Adbel Jalil, then proclaimed himself the new legitimate ruler of the country until new elections.

Libya after Gaddafi

On his first day, the transitional president declared that the sharia would be the basis of the constitution as well as the law, reestablished polygamy and outlawed divorce. The consequences of the civil war were tremendous: they led to the disintegration of the country. Gaddafi's death did not mark the end of the conflict, as the tribal, regional and religious militias that participated in the war held different visions of what the new government should look like, making unification impossible.

Externally, territorial decontrol changed the geopolitics of the Sahara-Sahel region, offering new opportunities for jihadists.

Three periods can be distinguished. The first, between 2011 and 2013, could be considered the time of uncertainty, but also the time of democratic hope and illusion. Despite wars between different peoples over different ideologies (defenders of the old regime versus Muslim fundamentalists defending Islamic traditions) and a territorial proxy war (Cyrenaica versus Tripolitania for the capital of the new state), what appeared to be democratic mechanisms were being put in place.

On 31 October 2011, Tripoli native Abdel Rahim al-Keeb was elected Prime Minister of the transitional government by 26 votes out of 51. Legislative elections were held on 7 July 2012; they were won by the congress General National (CNG), which replaced the Transitional National committee . But the status was far from being consolidated. On 11 September 2012, the American ambassador, John Christopher Stevens, was assassinated by a Salafist group called Ansar al-Sharia.

The second period began in early 2013. Libya was on the path to normalisation through democratic elections and the revival of oil and gas exports. However, the following year saw the beginning of lawlessness and attempts to recompose internal order. The "democratic advances" had not been enough, as the regions were largely autonomous and there was no border security. No one had been able to control Libyan territory in its entirety. Chadian President Idriss Déby, who had already warned of these consequences when the West intervened in the civil war, called the new Libyan status a "Somalisation".

From February 2014 onwards, this lawlessness resulted in a series of resignations of "government" officials due to threats from the country's various militias and protests in front of the NGC, as the government was not dissolved after the expiry of the mandate. On 20 February, elections were held for the 60-member Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution, goal , but only 15% of voters took part. Meanwhile, on 6 March in Rome, at the lecture International on Libya, the Italian foreign minister considered that the main problem was the "overlapping of legitimacy".

The third period took place at the end of 2014, when the so-called 'second Libyan war' began. From 2015 onwards, the Islamic State entered the scene, which changed the Libyan political landscape. The UN created a transitional executive body called the Government of National agreement (GNA), with the goal to steer Libyan politics in this new status. It was formed by the union of the National General congress and the House of Representatives. It is composed of 32 ministers, with Fayez-al Sarraj serving as position president of the Presidential committee and prime minister of the GNA.

Libya then found itself with two parliaments, one in Tripoli, under Islamist control, and the other, recognised by the international community, in Tobruk, Cyrenaica, near the Egyptian border, which had been forced to desist by jihadist forces. This led to the start of another conflict, which is still ongoing today. In Cyrenaica, a confused and multiform war is taking place, involving jihadists and supporters of General Khalifa Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA) and opposes both the jihadists and the National agreement government. Through his army, the general launched air strikes against Islamist groups in Benghazi in May, with the goal aim of seizing the parliament. He also accuses Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteg of cooperating with Islamist groups. In June, Maiteg resigned after the Supreme Court ruled that his appointment was illegal.

In 2014, Haftar launched "Operation Dignity" against the Islamists, trying to remove Colonel Moktar Fernana, commander of the military police and elected by Misrata and the Muslim Brotherhood, from power. This mission statement failed due to the power of the different Muslim militias throughout the Tripolitania territory, divided into different areas: there is the city of Misrata, which is jihadist territory under the command of the Muslim Brotherhood; to the west, the militia reigns supreme. Berber Arabic-speaking Zenten; in the capital, the Islamist militia Farj Lybia is in control, while Fezzan and the Grand Sud have become quasi-autonomous territories, where the Tuareg are being fought.

In June 2014, parliamentary elections took place. Islamist parties were defeated, there was a leave turnout due to insecurity and a boycott by the dominant parties, and a clash emerged between forces loyal to the NTC and those in the new parliament or House of Representatives (HoR). Eventually, the National Salvation Government emerged, with Muslim Brotherhood ally Nouri Absuhamain as president.

In July, national security deteriorated severely as a result of several events. Tripoli International Airport was destroyed by fighting between Misrata militia and its Dawa Libya operation against Zintan militia; the HoR moved to Tobruk after the Tripoli Supreme Court (composed of the NTC) dissolved it; the NTC voted itself a replacement for the House of Representatives; Asar al-Sharia took control of Benghazi; and UN envoys left the country due to growing insecurity.

On 29 January 2015, the LNA and its allies in Tripoli declared a ceasefire following the "Libyan Dialogue" organised by the UN in Geneva to encourage reconciliation between the different sides. On 17 December of the same year, the Libyan Political agreement , or agreement Skhirat, promoted by UNSMIL, took place. Its goal was to resolve the dispute between the legitimate House of Representatives, based in Tobruk and al-Bayda, and the NTC, based in Tripoli. A 9-member Presidency committee was set up to form a unity government that would lead to elections in two years. The HoR was to be the sole parliament and would act as such until the elections.

On 30 March 2016, the GNA arrived in Tripoli by sea due to the air blockade. The settlement of the legitimate government led to the UN's return to the territory after two years in April. In addition, the GNA, together with US air forces, liberated Sirte from ISIS in December 2016. However, the LNA continued to gain territory, gaining control of the eastern oil terminals in September.

In July 2017, the LNA drove ISIS out of Benghazi. A year later, it controlled Derna, the last western territory under terrorist groups. On 17 December, Haftar declared the Libyan Political agreement null and void, as elections had not taken place, highlighting the obsolescence of the UN-created Libyan government. The general then began to gain traction in the national and international context: "All institutions created under this agreement are null and void, as they have not gained full legitimacy. Libyans feel that they have lost their patience and that the promised period of peace and stability has become a distant fantasy," Haftar declared.

19 April 2019 was the date on which the Libyan National lecture was to be held in Ghadamas to make progress on agreements and to finalise a date on which the presidential and parliamentary elections would be held. However, days before the convening of lecture was cancelled due to the LNA's "Operation Dignity Flood" with the goal of the "liberation" of the country.


Correlation of forces in the Libyan civil war, February 2016 [Wikipedia].

Correlation of forces in the Libyan civil war, February 2016 [Wikipedia].

Correlation of forces in the Libyan civil war, February 2016 [Wikipedia].


Foreign interference

The current Libyan status is worrying. The international community fears the country could become the next Syria. The National Liberation Army, led by Haftar, is supported by the United Arab Emirates, hoping to stop the advance of the Muslim Brotherhood, which it considers a terrorist organisation. It is also supported by Egypt and Russia, which are interested in controlling the country's energy resources. The National agreement government, with Fayez al-Sarraj as its leader, represents the legitimate government in the eyes of the international community (the UN recognises it). It is supported by the US and EU countries (except France), as well as Turkey and Qatar, which provide military support (especially the Turks). However, the US and the EU defend the maritime borders of Greece and Israel against Turkey's desire project to build gas pipelines across the Mediterranean to supply itself.

The rapprochement between Haftar and France began in 2015. France attempted to transform the LNA into a legitimate actor, assisting it with clandestine operatives, special forces and advisors. On 20 July 2016, Holland's France officially declared its military support for him after the killing of three French special forces soldiers in Benghazi by the GNA, which argued that it was a 'violation of its national sovereignty'. On 25 July 2019, the Paris Summit took place. Macron invited the two leaders for a dialogue on peace and unity. France's main interest is to eradicate terrorism.

On 6 March 2019, the Abu Dhabi agreement brought together the leaders of the most important sides in the Libyan war and emphasised several aspects: Libya as marital status, shortening the transitional period of government, unification of state institutions (such as the Central Bank), cessation of hatred and its incitement, holding presidential and parliamentary elections by the end of the year, peaceful transfer of power, separation of powers and UN follow-up of agreed points. The site meeting sample shows the strong involvement of the United Arab Emirates in this war, especially as an ally of General Haftar. The Persian Gulf country denied supporting the attack on Tripoli that took place on 31 March 2020 by the LNA. However, several Libyan media reported that two military cargo planes arrived at the Emirati Al-Khadim airbase in the east of the Libyan city of Marj from the Sweihan airbase in Abu Dhabi.

On 27 November 2019, the agreement Maritime Border between the GNA and Turkey took place. Turkish President Erdogan and Fayez al-Sarraj signed two memoranda of understanding. They agreed on an 18.6 nautical mile limit as a shared maritime border between Turkey and Libya and signed a military cooperation agreement whereby Ankara would send soldiers and weapons. Instead of creating a new troop, which would take longer, Turkey offered a salary of 200 dollars a month to fight in Libya as opposed to 75 dollars a month to fight in Syria.

The problem with the maritime border is that it ignores the islands of Cyprus and Greece and violates their rights under the 1994 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, although neither of these two countries has gone to the Law of the Sea Tribunal. Turkey's interest lies in the possible presence of oil and natural gas off the southern coast of Crete. The agreement will for the time being last as long as the GNA lasts, in a status of instability to which the unpopularity of military intervention in Turkey also contributes.

On 2 January 2020, the presidents of Algeria and Tunisia met with Khalifa Haftar. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune insisted that the solution to the Libyan problem must be internal and not depend on the influx of arms brought about by foreign interference. He proposed the creation of new institutions that would allow the organisation of general elections and the establishment of the new instructions of the Libyan democratic state with the approval of the UN.

On 6 January, the LNA took control of Sirte. Sirte is strategic as it is close to Libya's "oil moon"average , a coastal strip where several major oil export terminals are located.

On 12 January, Russia and Turkey declared a truce in Syria and Libya. This agreement was a quid pro quoRussia has greater interests in Syria than in Libya, as it seeks a Mediterranean port, and Turkey, as explained above, wants to build a gas supply system across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. However, agreement is not being fulfilled, especially in the Libyan scenario. UN envoys allege that both countries continue to provide weapons to the guerrillas.

On 19 January, lecture took place in Berlin, which was an attempt to appease status in the country. The United States, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, China, Turkey and Algeria participated, and expressed a commitment to end political and military interference in the country. Without the intervention of third parties, the country would not be able to sustain a civil war, as none of the sides is strong enough. committee At lecture, the non-compliance with the arms embargo established by the UN Security Council in 2011 was also discussed. The problem is that no power, especially Turkey and Russia, acknowledges its involvement, so there are no responsibilities and no sanctions.

A week later, the first violation of the pact took place. As for the truce, Haftar's government, with the goal aim of retaking the capital, launched an offensive in the direction of the city of Misrata, where an important base of the National agreement government is located. In addition, the UN special mission statement in Libya (UNSMIL) stated that material continues to reach the fighting sides by air.

On 31 March, the EU launched "Operation Irini" ("peace" in Greek). It replaces the 2015 'Operation Sophia', which was goal aimed at combating human trafficking off the Libyan coast. The new operation has changed its main focus to goal , as it will fight to enforce the arms embargo. It also has other secondary tasks such as the control of oil smuggling, the continuation of the Libyan coastguard training and the control of human trafficking through the collection of information with the use of air patrols. This initiative was born above all on the part of Italy, the first country to receive Libyan refugees and therefore concerned about immigration. This leadership is manifested in the development of the operation, as the headquarters are in Rome and the operational direction is at position of Italian Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini. For the time being, it has a duration of one year.

On 5 April, the UN called for a cessation of hostilities to combat Covid-19. It called for a humanitarian truce involving not only the national sides but also foreign forces. The virus claimed the life of Mahmoud Jibril, former prime minister and leader of the rebellion against Gaddafi.

New regional geopolitics and conclusion

We can define the new Libyan geopolitics through the following points. First, the spread of arms throughout the Sahara-Sahel region, the area of old and current conflicts. Second, the border threat felt by Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia due to internal conflict. Finally, the disinterest of the new Libyan authorities in the Greater South, as it has virtually become independent, controlling almost all trade across the Sahara. Al-Qaeda, through sub-groups such as Fajr Libya, is attempting to establish an Islamic State of North Africa in imitation of Iraq. To this end, in the conquered areas, Daesh destroys the tribal paradigm by liquidating tribal chiefs who do not want to ally with them with the aim of terrorising the rest. goal . It is through these practices that all the jihadist militias were able to ally themselves at the end of 2015. Faced with this, the United Nations sponsored Fayez Sarrraj as Prime Minister, who was installed in Tripoli in April 2016. 

Libya is a privileged state in terms of natural wealth. However, it has suffered much in its history and continues to do so. It has gone through monarchies, colonisation and dictatorships before finally becoming a failed state. Its political structure is complicated, as it is tribal, which is why none of the political systems have been entirely successful because they have failed to harmonise internal organisations. Today the country consists of three rival governments and hundreds of militias and armed groups that continue to compete for power and control of territory, trade routes and strategic military sites. For status to be resolved, the countries actively involved in the conflict (Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar) need to comply with the UN arms embargo. In addition, foreign powers need to increase their understanding of the country in order to be successful in bringing about the best possible solution. Even if Libya is on the verge of becoming the next Syria, there are still opportunities to save status and give the country what it has long lacked: stability.



Al Jazeera, A. (December 18, 2017). Haftar: Libya's UN-backed government's mandate obsolete.

Al Jazeera, A. (3 April 2020,). Workers in Libya struggle under oil blockade

Álvaro Sánchez (31 March 2020). The EU launches its mission statement against arms trafficking to Libya. El País. Section - International.

Andrew Seger (2018). Can Libya's Division be healed? Section: Middle East and North Africa, sub-section: Libya.

Assad, A. (2020). Attacks on civilians in Tripoli continue as Haftar receives more support from UAE. The Libya Observer.

Assad, A. (2020). EU launches naval "Operation IRINI" to monitor arms embargo on Libya. The Libya Observer.

BBC World (2020). Libya: why so many international powers are involved in the North African nation. BBC - Section: News World.

Bernand Lugan (2016). Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord. Monaco: Rocher.

Daniel Rosselló (2016). The Libyan Tuaregs: the fighters without a homeland. Think Tank el Órden Mundial - Section: Politics and Society - Subsection: Middle East and Maghreb.

Europa Press. (5 April 2020). The UN reiterates its call for a cessation of hostilities in Libya to combat the coronavirus.

Europa Press (2020). The warring parties in Libya meet for the first time at the UN-sponsored military commission. EuropaPress - Section: International.

Francisco Peregil - Andrés Mourenza (2019). Libya, The New Battleground Between Turkey And Russia. El País- Section: International.

Francisco Peregil (2020). The truce on Libya reached in Berlin becomes a dead letter. El País - Section: International.

Frederic Wehrey (2017). Insecurity and governance challenges in southern Libya. Embassy of Libya, Washington DC. Section: Research, analysis and reflections.

Jawad, R. (20 July 2016). Libya attack: French soldiers die in helicopter crash. BBC News. Retrieved from.

Joanna Apap (2017). Political developments in Libya and prospects of stability. European Parliament Think Tank. Section: Foreign Affairs, subsection: briefing.

Kali Robinson (2020). What's at stake in Libya's War? Council on Foreign Relations. Section: Middle East and North Africa, subsection: Libya.

Karim Mezran - Emily Burchfield (2020). The context of today's Libya crisis and what to watch for. Think Tank Atlantic Council. Section: Politics and Diplomacy - Security and Defense, subsection: Libya.

La Vanguardia (2020). Haftar breaks truce in Libya and UN says embargo violated. La Vanguardia - Section: international.

La Razón (5 April 2020). Coronavirus: Mahmoud Jibril, former Libyan prime minister and leader of rebellion against Gaddafi, dies. Section- International.

Libya Analysis. Accessed February 2020.

Libya Observer: when you need to know. Accessed February 2020.

United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) (2015) Libyan Political Agreement.

María Paz López (2020). No more military interference in Libya. La Vanguardia - Section: International.

Pavel Felgnhauer (2020). Russian-Turkish Accords Start to Unravel in Libya and Syria. The Jamestown Foundation- Section: Regions, Africa.

Reuters (6 January 2020). Hafter's forces claim to have taken control of the Libyan city of Sirte. El País. International Section.

Zaptia, S. (2011). Serraj reveals more details of Abu Dhabi Hafter agreement. Libya Herald.

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East Africa Security and defence Testing

[Joseph S. Nye. Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump. Oxford University Press. New York, 2020. 254 pp.]

review / Emili J. Blasco

Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to TrumpThe question that serves as degree scroll for the new book by Jospeh Nye, known to the public at large for having coined the term "the question of the future". soft powerThe author's argument is not so much a concession to secularist thinking as a lack of boldness in asserting from entrance the desirability of ethical reflection in foreign policy decisions, an importance that, despite the question mark, one senses is defended by the author.

In fact, the question itself is a question core topic at discipline of International Office. A common approach is to see the world scenario as a conjunction of competing states, in an anarchic dynamic where the law of the strongest prevails. Internally, the state can be driven by criteria of the common good, addressing the different needs of its inhabitants and making decisions at the national or local level through democratic processes. But beyond one's own borders, does the legitimacy granted by one's own electorate not require the ruler above all to guarantee the security of his citizens against external threats and to safeguard the national interest against that of other states?

The fact that the state is the basic subject in the International Office of course marks a dividing line between the two spheres. And so the question of whether the ethical discernment that is demanded of the mandatary in the internal sphere should also be demanded of him in the external sphere is fully relevant.

Only from extreme positions that consider the state to be a wolf for the state, applying the Hobbesian principle to international order (disorder) (and here there would be no supra-state to discipline this tendency of the state-individual), can it be argued that amorality rules all against all. On a lower rung is so-called offensive realism, and on a lower rung, defensive realism.

Nye, a scholar of International Office, believes that realist theory is a good starting point for any president when it comes to defining a country's foreign policy, given that he must be guided especially by the ethics of responsibility, as he fulfils a 'fiduciary role'. "A president's first moral duty is that of a trustee, and this begins with ensuring the survival and security of the democracy that elected him. But from here it should also be explored what possibilities exist for partnership and international mutual benefit, not closing the door on entrance to approaches of liberalism or cosmopolitanism.

"When survival is at stake, realism is a necessary but not sufficient basis for a moral foreign policy," says Nye, for whom it is a "question of Degree". "Given that there is never perfect security, the moral question is what Degree security should be assured before other values such as welfare, identity or rights are part of a president's foreign policy". He adds: "Many of the most difficult moral decisions are not all-or-nothing [...] The difficult moral decisions are in the middle. While it is important to be cautious about the dangers of a slippery slope, moral decisions rest on matching ends and means with each other'. He concludes that "the maintenance of international institutions and regimes is part of moral leadership".

From the very beginning of the book, Nye uses the three conditions that have traditionally been used in moral treatises to judge an action as ethically good: that the intention, the means and the consequences are good at the same time.

Using these three yardsticks, the author analyses the foreign policy of each of the US presidents since World War II and establishes a final ranking that combines both the morality of their actions on the international stage and the effectiveness of their policy (because an ethical foreign policy can be the case, but one that does little to further a country's national interests).

Thus, of the fourteen presidents, he considers that the four with the best grade in that combination are Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Bush I. In the middle he places Reagan, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Clinton and Obama. And as the four worst he lists Johnson, Nixon, Bush II and ("tentatively incomplete") Trump. Having done the ranking, Nye warns that he may have given precedence to the Democratic administrations he worked for.

The book is a quick overview of the foreign policy of each presidency, highlighting the presidents' doctrines, their successes and failures (as well as examining the ethical component), so it is also interesting as a succinct history of the US International Office of the last eighty years.

The aspect of morality perhaps lacks a more academic foundation, as it is an discipline especially studied since the scholastic era. But Nye's purpose was not intended to delve into this subject, but to offer a brief study of applied morality.

Reading Nye is always thought-provoking. Among his other reflections might be the idea of the new prospects that would have opened up for the world if particularly propitious times had coincided in the calendar. In particular, he suggests that if Brezhnev and his gerontocratic generation had left earlier and the USSR had been beset by severe economic problems earlier, Gorbachev might have come to power at the same time as Carter's presidency; what they would have achieved together is, however, a matter for speculation.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

A view of the Badshahi Mosque, in Lahore, capital of the Punjab province [Pixabay].

▲ A view of the Badshahi Mosque, in Lahore, capital of the Punjab province [Pixabay].

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Naomi Moreno, Alejandro Puigrefagut, Ignacio Yárnoz


Operation Checkmate: Pakistan in a crossfire between world powersDownload the document [pdf. 1,4MB] [pdf. 1,4MB



This report has been aimed at examining the future prospects for Pakistan in the 2025 horizon in relation to other States and to present various scenarios through a prospective strategic analysis.

The research draws upon the fact that, despite the relatively short space of time, Pakistan is likely to undergo several important changes in its international affairs and thus feel forced to rethink its foreign policy. This strategic analysis suggests there could be considerable estrangement between the U.S. and Pakistan and, therefore, the American influence will decrease considerably. Their security alliance could terminate, and Pakistan would cease to be in U.S.' sphere of influence. Moreover, with the new BRI and CPEC projects, China could move closer to Pakistan and finally become its main partner in the region. The CPEC is going to become a vital instrument for Pakistan, so it could significantly increase Chinese influence. Yet, the whole situation risks jeopardizing Pakistan's sovereign independence.

India-Pakistan longstanding dispute over Kashmir seems to be stagnated and will possibly remain as such in the following years. India has taken steps to annex its administered territory in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan could potentially follow. The possibility of an open conflict and a nuclear standoff remains possible as both nuclear powers have very different strategies and conceptions which could lead to misinterpretation and a nuclear escalation. 

In the quest to rethink its foreign policy, the U.S.-Taliban peace and the empowerment of the group has come as a bolt from the sky for Pakistan. Through its ties with the Taliban, Pakistan could gain itself a major presence in the region namely by reaching out to Central Asia and advance its interest to curtail India's influence. Amid a dire economic crisis, with regards to the Saudi Iranian Cold War, Pakistan could seek a way in which it can recalibrate its stance in favour of the resource-rich Saudi alliance while it appeases sectarian groups who could strongly oppose this potential policy.

 Pakistan ought to acknowledge that significant changes ought to be made in both the national and international sphere and that decisive challenges lay ahead.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Reports