How Libya’s Economic Structures Enrich the Militias
Building on his publication “It’s the Economy Stupid: How Libya’s Civil War Is Rooted in Its Economic Structures,” Mr. Pack released another in his series of articles about the Libyan economy. This one explores how the current economic structures in Libya allow the militias and the powerful to profit and corrupt Libya’s wealth. This piece “How Libya’s Economic Structures Enrich the Militias” seeks to re-contextualize the problem:
Others have cogently written about Tripoli’s militias as an economic cartel, and I believe the time has come to expand this characterization: all the major warlords and certain key officials with control over Libya’s inefficient macroeconomic policies should be thought of as “the status quo party.” Top UN officials have started referring to them publicly as such. This “party” benefits from the conflict and abhors the thought of its resolution. Their lucrative patronage networks were nearly disrupted by the UN’s National Conference that was slated for mid-April 2019. General Khalifa Hifter launched his assault on Tripoli deliberately to sabotage that conference. Since the outbreak of fighting, the transformation of the conflict into a protracted stalemate has favored certain armed groups that have further cemented their dominance over specific sectors of the Libyan economy.
This insight, that both sides of the current fight over Tripoli benefit from the economic structures currently in place, should present the key insight into how the UN should reformulate its approach to the conflict.
Regular Libyans are “mad as hell” and constitute the primary drivers of reform. They are the “anti-status quo party.” International policymakers should leapfrog the “status quo party” of entrenched politicians and warlords and make an alliance with the Libyan people. The upcoming UNGA is the perfect time to unveil this new approach. For too long, international policymakers have thought: we can’t fix the Libyan subsidy system while there is fighting going on. That logic must be turned on its head: the fighting can’t be stopped while the subsidy system is going on.