A Decade Of Instability In Libya

Instability in Libya

Even as the world tackles the Coronavirus, resurgence of tension continued in Libya. The recent incidents encompass attacks on migrants as well as drone attacks, inflicting heavy casualties.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Occurring
26 migrants from Bangladesh were killed in a warehouse in a reported act of revenge. The problems compounded for the natives as air-fights and drone attacks increased. The most recent attack came on the capital Tripoli, where the Libyan National Army (LNA) attacked the airport.

80 rockets were fired which killed 6 people and destroyed the planes supposed to bring Libyan citizens stranded in Spain. The move came after the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya, the UN-approved government, rejected LNA’s proposal of ceasefire during Ramadan. The reason for rejection is said to be LNA’s suspicious intentions.

Cold-War In Libya?
Russian fighter aircrafts were spotted in Libya, which were reported to be aiding LNA. The move has drawn criticism from US, which has claimed Russia’s support of LNA by the Wagner group, a Russian military group with unclear operations.

Timeline of Civil War in Libya

  • February 2011: Protests against leader Muammar Gaddafi begin after civil right activists arrested.
  • October 2011: Gaddafi killed after fight with combined forces of US, France and other countries in accord with UN.
  • September 2012: Militants attack US embassy, killing 3 ambassadors.
  • 2014: Civil war starts. Mainly between radically secular LNA and democratic GNA.
  • 2020: LNA’s airstrikes on Tripoli.

Libya Under Gaddafi
In 1969, Gaddafi replaced the monarchy in a coup. Following were defining features of his regime:
– Rejected Marxism but implemented “Islamic Socialism”.
– Made education and health-care free for all.
– Libya then fared better on Human Development Index than other Arab countries.
– Privatized oil to all citizens, providing annually more than $20,000 to each citizen.

However, critics have pointed to the degraded state of education and health care provided in the name of “free education and health-care”. They have pointed to his funding of terrorist groups in foreign lands as crimes against humanity. They also say that there was a lack of freedom under his regime, with most systems being controlled under one dictator i.e Gaddafi.

  • The Green Book is a short book setting out the political philosophy of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The book was first published in 1975. It is said to have been inspired in part by The Little Red Book (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung).
  • The Third International Theory, also known as the Third Universal Theory, was the style of government proposed by Muammar Gaddafi in the early 1970s. It was proposed by Gaddafi as an alternative to capitalism and communism for Third World countries, based on the stated belief that both of these ideologies had been proven invalid. By 2011 the fall and death of Gaddafi had seen his system disestablished and replaced by the National Transitional Council.
  • The .ly is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Libya. Many popular URL shortening services are registered in the .ly domain like brief.ly, adf.ly, bit.ly, ow.ly, and 3.ly. These URL shortening services shorten more than 600 million URLs in total every month.

Cyclones Getting Stronger With Time

cyclones getting stronger with time

Recent studies have pointed to an increase in intensity of cyclones as well as the change of directions amidst global warming and other ecological changes.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Research
Recent research on cyclones has pointed to the increasing strength of “the maximum sustained winds”, indicating that cyclones on average are getting stronger with time. The cyclones are also reported to shift their location towards the earth’s poles while shifting across the lands. This change has been brought on, including several causes, by global warming where the earth is witnessing an increase in average temperature due to rapid industrialization, etc.

Formation of Cyclones

  • Cyclones are intensive circular storms generated over warm oceans
  • Forms when warm air near oceans ascends, creating low-pressure region
  • Surrounding air of high pressure comes to take place in the vacated low-pressure region
  • The warm air on the top condenses into clouds, creating a combination of clouds and storms
  • The storm on reaching lands loses its source power of warm ocean air but continues to propel forward till exhausted
  • Tropical Cyclone Kesiny was the first recorded tropical cyclone – the equivalent of a minimal hurricane – to make landfall in the month of May in the south-west Indian Ocean. Its formation was the result of an increase in the Madden–Julian oscillation, which also contributed to a twin storm in the north Indian Ocean.
  • The topic of “Tropical cyclones and climate change” receives considerable attention from climate scientists who study the connections between storms and climate, and notably since 2005 makes news during active storm seasons. The 2018 U.S. National Climate Change Assessment reported that “increases in greenhouse gases and decreases in air pollution have contributed to increases in Atlantic hurricane activity since 1970.”
  • Henry Piddington was an English merchant captain who sailed in East India and China. He is particularly well known for his pioneering studies in the meteorology of tropical storms and hurricanes. He noted the circular winds recorded by ships caught in storms and coined the name cyclone in 1848 based on his studies of tropical storms and the observation of circular winds around a calm center.

US To Pull Out Of Afghanistan Earlier Than Planned

US would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan before the planned date. The move comes in light of Coronavirus pandemic, which has made placing of troops in foreign nations harmful on economy as well as unsafe for the troops.

Crux of the Matter

US-Taliban Deal
On 29 February 2020, the US and Taliban signed an agreement that would see US withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. The first phase would see the number of troops decreasing from 12,000 to 8,600 by July. Complete withdrawal would be done by May 2021 under specified conditions. For the Taliban, the deal compels the group to act in the interest of peace while maintaining separation from Al-Qaeda.

However, the US is seeking earlier withdrawal of troops due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Besides affecting the economy with the burden of placing troops in distant nations, there is a threat of the soldiers contacting the virus as Pentagon has reported Covid-19 in around 50% of Afghan forces. Consequently, President Trump has planned to have the soldiers back by presidential elections. Instead of reducing numbers to 8,600 by July, the number has decreased to 8,500 already by May.

Local Situation
The agreement also compelled the exchange of around 6,000 prisoners between Afghanistan and Taliban. More importantly, a cease-fire was observed between the 2 forces on occasion of Eid. The step marked a severe reduction in civilian deaths, which has garnered worldwide appraisal.

India welcomes the understanding reached for a ceasefire in Afghanistan for three days during the Eid. We hope that this ceasefire would extend further and become permanent to address the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and pave the way for durable peace and stability to Afghans.

Ministry of External Affairs, India

Peace With India?
After recent social media posts claiming the Taliban’s imminent attack on Delhi for its stance on Kashmir, a Taliban spokesperson has refuted the claims, declaring Kashmir as “India’s internal affair”.

The statement published in the media about Taliban joining Jihad in Kashmir is wrong. The policy of the Islamic Emirate is clear that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

Suhail Shaheen, Spokesperson, Taliban

Nevertheless, experts have warned India to keep an eye on the Taliban as one of its supporters is Pakistan’s ISI, which claims Kashmir its own.

Afghanistan Before 2001

  • 1978: People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDA) replaces Govt in a coup allegedly backed by Soviet Union.
  • December 1978: Deal with Soviet Union to provide military assistance. Revolt ensued against Soviet interference and negation of Islamic faith by radical secularization.
  • 1979: Soviet invades Afghanistan. US retaliates by arming Mujahideen against Soviets as part of its “Cold-War”.
  • 1992: Civil war in Afghanistan.
  • 1996: Taliban, risen from Mujahideen funded by US-Pakistan-Saudi Arabia, attacks Afghanistan and gains control. Imposes orthodox Islamic rule.

US Enters Afghanistan

  • 2001: US launches an attack on Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. Temporary government set up in Afghanistan.
  • 2001-2009: Attacks on Afghanistan by resurgent Taliban.
  • 2009: President Obama shifts forces to Afghanistan.
  • 2014: Coalition of international forces withdraws, leaving a few troops to train Afghani forces.
  • 2017: Mutual aggression between US-Taliban continues
  • 2020: US-Taliban sign peace-agreement

US- A Timeline of Pull Outs

  • 2011: Obama announces withdrawal of 33,000 troops by 2012.
  • 2014: Obama announces complete withdrawal by 2016. Posits only 9,800 troops to remain beyond 2014.
  • 2019: Trump calls off peace talks amidst renewed Taliban attacks.
  • 2020: Trump orders phased removal of troops.

  • In 2012, President of the United States, Barack Obama declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally. According to a 2012 BBC poll, the U.S. was the most favored country in Afghanistan.
  • The first recorded contact between Afghanistan and the United States occurred in the 1830s when Josiah Harlan, an American adventurer and political activist from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, traveled to the Indian subcontinent with intentions of becoming the King of Afghanistan.
  • Zero Dark Thirty is a 2012 American thriller film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. The film dramatizes the nearly decade-long international manhunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks. The film briefly showcases the American troops in Afghanistan who flew two stealth helicopters from Afghanistan into Pakistan to execute the most wanted terrorist at the time.

Cryptocurrency Gets Green Light In India

cryptocurrency bitcoin

Recent declaration by RBI cleared all confusions regarding legality of Cryptocurrency, as RBI announced that there is no prohibition on opening of bank accounts by Cryptocurrency traders.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Reversal
In March 2020, Supreme Court of India reversed RBI’s decision of 2018 of banning regulated financial intermediaries from using cryptocurrency. However, confusion lingered among potential investors. On the demand of a Right To Information (RTI) application, RBI announced that cryptocurrency traders can be allowed to open bank accounts.

While the Supreme Court ruling had made it very clear that there are no curbs on banking for crypto businesses, the RBI reply to RTI filing is very much welcome. There has been confusion amongst many banks despite the Supreme Court ruling because these banks have been waiting for information from RBI.

Nischal Shetty, CEO of WazirX

History Of Cryptocurrency In India

  • 2012-2013: Cryptocurrency comes in mainstream observation
  • 2013: RBI cautions of it and labels it “risky”
  • 2016: Exponential increase in its use after Demonetization
  • 2017: RBI repeats concerns of 2013, with the Finance Ministry expressing concern over safety and legality of transactions
  • 2018: RBI prohibits regulated financial institutions’ dealing with cryptocurrency
  • March 2020: SC legalizes Cryptocurrency, overturning RBI’s decision of 2018
  • May 2020: RBI Says “No Prohibition” on Banks allowing accounts to Cryptocurrency traders

Crypto Around The World

  • 2008: An anonymous paper by title “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” appeared
  • 2009: Bitcoin made available to public
  • 2011: Other cryptocurrencies appear – Namecoin, Litecoin, etc
  • 2013: Bitcoin prices crash after reaching 1 Bitcoin = $1,000
  • 2014: Bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox goes offline. Loss of $450 million
  • 2017: Japan passes law legalizing Bitcoin as payment method
  • 2020: India legalizes Cryptocurrency
  • Satoshi Nakamoto is the name used by the presumed pseudonymous person or persons who developed bitcoin, authored the bitcoin white paper, and created and deployed bitcoin’s original reference implementation. As part of the implementation, Nakamoto also devised the first blockchain database.
  • Libra is a permissioned blockchain digital currency proposed by the American social media company Facebook, Inc. The currency and network do not yet exist, and only a rudimentary experimental code has been released. The launch is planned to be later this year.
  • ZebPay is a cryptocurrency exchange and wallet provider headquartered in Singapore with a registered office in Australia. It is currently operational in over 163 countries, including India. In 2020, ZebPay was acquired by Rahul Pagidipati, who is currently serving as CEO, and relaunched in India with a new crypto-crypto trading feature.

Locusts With Country-Scale Hunger Swarm India

India witnessed an unprecedented level of attacks by Locusts which were spotted in large numbers in Rajasthan. The locust swarms are expected to move to several other states in upcoming days.

Crux of the Matter

Locust Attack
Large swarms of Locust were spotted towards the end of April in Rajasthan and Punjab. Due to favorable wind, the swarms are now reported to be moving towards Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.

In December 2019, locusts had invaded Gujarat and destroyed crops spread over 25,000 hectares of land. So far, 42,000 hectares of pulses, cotton, and vegetable crops have been affected.

What Is A Locust?
Locust is a member of the grasshopper family. A swarm of locusts can cover more than 150 kilometers in a day. While they are harmless for human beings, Locusts consume leaves, fruits, vegetables, and all the crops which are grown for human consumption, destroying them in the process. A small swarm of Locusts can consume food equal to that eaten by 3000+ people.

The type of Locust currently swarming in India is the Desert Locust, which breeds in Pakistan and Iran. It is the most dangerous of all as it consumes food equal to its own weight daily.

Locust Threat
Locust attacks are also documented in ancient texts and mythologies. Swarms of Locusts normally migrate to India from June to November owing to the monsoon. What’s different in the current situation is their early invasion and the abnormal size of Swarms.

The swarms’ size makes the current attack the largest in the last 27 years. To put it into perspective, a swarm of the size of Paris would consume food equal to that consumed by half the French population. Consequently, there is a significant possibility of the crops being damaged on a large scale, which would also compound the impact of Coronavirus on the Indian Economy.

India’s Response
India has engaged in discussions with Pakistan and Iran to facilitate co-operated action against the Locusts. India has offered required pesticides to Iran and has requested Pakistan to “rise above its narrow-minded approach” in the co-operation. So far, 700 tractors and 75 fire-engines are engaged in the task of spraying of pesticides to eliminate the Locusts. Nevertheless, India needs to manage the crisis quickly as more than 33% loss of essential crops like wheat, oilseed, etc has been reported in the affected areas since December.

Across The World
In a similar manner, the US witnessed the recent arrival of Murder Hornets, originally named Vespa Mandarina. These 2-inch long hornets kill more than 50 people annually in Asia by their potent stings. However, their major target is Honeybee. A group of Murder Hornets can completely destroy a bee-hive within hours.

As the honeybee industry is an important sector in the US economy, contributing more than $4 billion annually, the US faces a similar threat of having its economy diminished, which is already in stagnation due to Coronavirus lockdown.

  • The ancient Egyptians carved locusts on tombs in the period 2470 to 2220 BC. A devastating plague is mentioned in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, as taking place in Egypt around 1446 BC. Plagues of locusts are also mentioned in the Quran.
  • The Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) is a division of the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, created in 1974 to manage outbreaks of locust in eastern Australia. It was estimated that APLC’s activities resulted in a saving of $963 million from the expenditure of $50 million.
  • LUBILOSA was the name of a research program that aimed at developing a biological alternative to the chemical control of locusts. The LUBILOSA program was supported financially by authorities from countries like Canada, the UK, the USA, Switzerland, and Denmark.