Audioburst Search

Tripoli crown: the battle for Libya


hello and welcome to the intelligence on economist. Radio I'm your host Jason Palmer. Every weekday we provide a fresh perspective on the events shaping your world the annual death toll from incidents on the world's Rhodes has for years remained at more than a million yet. Authorities aren't using the tools they already have to save lives. We look at how the curious interplay of policy and development impact the road to improvement and earlier this month. Australia's National Gallery closed because of bushfire fire smoke as in just about every other sector facing climate change the custodians of culture. We'll have to prepare for more frequent and more damaging disasters But first yesterday Germany hosted an international conference aimed at bringing peace and stability to Libya for actors said they would again respect an arms embargo after nine months of intense fighting. The summit failed to secure a lasting ceasefire the conflict in Libya has festered. Ever since Moammar Gaddafi was toppled in two thousand eleven margin. McShane is are Middle East editor today on one inside you have the. UN backed government in Tripoli on the other you have Khalifa Dr a renegade commander who controls much of the east and south of the country and many of the country's oilfields oilfields in reality. Both sides are really just collections of militias and both draw heavily on foreign support. The Tripoli government is backed by Turkey. I'm and half doors backed by Egypt. The and Russia and as things stand on the ground heft ours. Forces are knocking on the doors of Tripoli but they have been since April and the frontlines aren't really moving that much. So that was a situation on the ground lenient to these talks in Berlin. It's a standoff. That has again drawn the attention of western Western powers who had taken a step back from the turmoil but the diplomacy in Berlin didn't go as far as it could have. The sides did not agree to a ceasefire. And that's a big deal but the foreign powers that back each side did agree to stop arming the combatants which is to say. They've agreed to stop ignoring a decades old arms embargo put in place by by the UN and that is meant to start the longer negotiation over a peace deal and will that work. Well that actually get closer to peace. T think it's the most helpful whole thing to happen in Libya in some time and yet I'm not very hopeful at all. Each side has just too much at stake. Here start with the foreign powers. You'll get Vladimir Putin. He's trying to build on. His success in. Syria extends influence in the eastern Mediterranean. And he thinks by backing Khalifa Abdur. That's the best way to do it now. Turkey on the other side has has even more on the line. Which is why it sent troops to Tripoli this month before all the chaos Turkish construction companies were heavily involved in Libya to the tune of something like twenty billion dollars dollars it would undoubtedly play a big role in rebuilding where peace ever to break out in Libya and signed a maritime border deal in November with the government in Tripoli that gives Turkey a decisive Zeiss of say in gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean? Now these construction contracts that border deal these are things that get ripped up if half hour winds so Turkey. Rickie has a lot on the line and backing the government in Tripoli and let me just say word about half Dr here because he is the definition of a spoiler. I mean he's the reason why so you don't have much hope for Libya he's completely uncompromising believes Libya needs a strong man and of course that it should be him. He walked out of a conference in Moscow. The other week and we we said to be acting in the same usual stubborn way in Berlin he did not meet with fires. All Suraj the Prime Minister of the government in Tripoli and on Sunday his forces closed down to big oilfields in the southwest of the country. That was an attempt to show what kind of leverage he still holds over the government in Tripoli and so why has this come to a head now I mean dental half stars moves have been going on for some time and now it looks like there is this grand. International push for reconciliation think European countries have gotten more involved volved now because they see things getting out of control and they really want to stop that from happening and they want to do that because it's in their own interests to keep the conflict from really spiraling their. The biggest concern is really migrants and Libya had become a jumping off point for African migrants heading across the Mediterranean to Europe and there has been a downturn in the flow since two thousand seventeen nineteen when we got more involved and I think now they don't WanNa see another uptake and that's why you're seeing more action from France Italy and Germany also like Turkey. France and Italy have big energy interests in Libya and until now that has actually put them sooner on opposite sides of the conflict but recently they seem to be singing more more from the same hymn book and I think it's also for Germany and for Europe a test case of whether they can take a leading role in world diplomacy. And so. That's that's what the Berlin talks are all about you also saw at these talks. The European Union's foreign policy chief even hinted that you're might be willing to put troops on the ground if they're able to negotiate a peace deal and what about the Libyan people themselves which they make of all this jockeying for power and the international interest I mean Libyan. They really just want the fighting to stop. That was the main sense I got when I was in Tripoli last year people are just tired of a decade of chaos and instability. But they also see weakness in Tripoli government I mean fires Al Sir Ause the Prime Minister he is hostage to the militias. Who are supporting him? He doesn't have any real power and so many seem resigned to the idea that Libya I can only be ruled by a strong man and they're not so much rooting for Khalifa. Dr They just wanted to be over and think that will eventually come out on top. And what about the prospect aspect of Mr Half dark coming out on top as you say he's entirely uncompromising and seems to be the spoiler for multiple sets of talks here. How does this play out? If he's just simply not going to play the game. I mean you see this sort of grinding siege of Tripoli and I don't think he consider win this war on his own. He's been at the Tripoli since April so he needs foreign helped it all comes down to whether sort of Russia continues backing him and sort of how involved Turkey actually gets on the side of the UN back government in Tripoli if if the foreign powers cheap to the agreement reached in Berlin. Then you could see an end to this quite quickly. I don't foresee that happening. I think this war is going to go on on for some time yet and I think the foreign powers are going to get more involved from here after. Perhaps a momentary lull on the back of the Berlin Conference. Roger Thank you very much for joining us. My pleasure Every twenty five seconds. Someone is on the world's roads annually. That's over one point. Two million people more than are killed by malaria. HIV and AIDS. That's striking total has hardly moved since the turn of the century. But it disguises. A lot of change both for better and for worse in individual countries seems to be a sort of relationship between development on road. Death Joel Bud. Is Our social policy editor. He's been to Thailand to meet some of those who bear the personal cost of these tragedies. Thailand has more or less the highest road death rate of any country with half decent statistics. There's a lot of driving in Thailand. It's naught shameful to go to a bar and have three or four days and then get behind the wheel of a car or gets on your motor by lots of people. Don't wear helmets. Comments on the roads are very smooth and as a result you can go along them pretty quickly. As part of my reporting for US I I. I went to Bangkok and one of the people I went to see. Was the mother of a goal cold. I type out Santos. Aaron who about a year ago was crossing crossing the road near her school when she was hit by a motorbike rider and a few days later she died of her injuries. And you say in Thailand. That is not an uncommon story. No not at all so. The girl's mother teaches in a small private school and when I went to see her they had just come back from holidays holidays and she said that a child had turned up on on the very first day with a with a serious head injury and she asked this boy. How did you get out? And he said Oh. I was in a road accident on one of her fellow. Teachers didn't turn up at all and this was because She had been walking along the side of the road when she was hit by motorbike and was knocked down and she injured her shoulder and her head quite badly. So why is it that there series this relationship between development and deaths in very very poor countries quite often. They're simply very many roads so our country Liberia. For example it just has has only two really long road so many people will live in enormously long distance from a road and the roads that do exist a washed out in the rainy season and and extremely bumpy. Even in the dry season as countries become wealthier they just build more roads and more people can afford motorbikes and cars and so the roads become busier and then they become flatter smoother and faster and the essentially the faster people go the the more serious crushes are and it's when countries reached roughly upper middle income status. That usually they start to get more serious about road safety and start to bring the death rate down. Well I mean there's more to it in the sort of East West and and rich-poor divide here in that there are still plenty plenty of people dying for example on American roads every day is. Is there not a conflict here yes. America's record is is not incredibly impressive So America in in the Mid Twentieth Century was really a pioneer of bringing down road deaths. It was the first country to really go very heavily for Reflective painted lines on on roads and that made a huge difference and many other countries than copied America but the road death. That's right in America. Each year is something like thirteen. Out of every hundred thousand people killed. That's I mean that's about half Hof Thailand but it's a bounce double Singapore and it's more than double the best European countries so it's really quite a bit worse than Aland Sweden. Britain's very low. Why is that? It's partly just that Americans drive along way so the Australian Road death-ray is also Kwai that it just spread our country's very suburban people people routinely drive long long distances but Nonetheless in America the husband a bit of an uptake in the last few years. And it's a bit of a puzzle. I mean certainly. America is not as determined as some European countries are to you really crush the road. death-ray so Sweden has a policy of trying to reduce the road death rate to zero. That's possible but in going about says Sweden is really thinking incredibly hard about how to write that roads safer. An America doesn't have that objective and is not trying as hard to do so and so essentially the peak of the curve is is in middle income countries. Yes quite often is. They often seem to peek into the lower middle income status. So it looks like for example that India's road death rate which had been increasing seems to have been decreasing for about the last five years. China's death rate has been going going down since severely to thousands of thereabouts. Is there something that the countries that do want to do. Something about this can do is a matter of simply training people better. Yes yes strangely. Training seems to make kind of amazingly little difference. Some kinds of training like Advanced driver training actually seem counterproductive. They make people into more dangerous drivers because they convinced them that better other things have a much much bigger effect for example Checking vehicles every year to see if the tires and Okay on the brakes of working and making sure Oh. People were helmets if writing to bikes and seatbelts. If the if that riding in cars all of those things are very very simple things matters it could form. It's not matters of skill a much much more important. So what about the the broader outlook here. Then if the overall number of road deaths seems to be flat but countries jostling within that that aggregate number. How do you see this playing out as you know? Technology gets better as awareness of these issues gets better as car. Safety itself gets better. The death rate really ought to becoming down fairly steeply. I think cars and motorbikes are better you know they. It's it's very common now to how. ABS breaks cars have electronic stability systems airbags now valley common and these sorts of technologies technologies are permeating middling calm and even sometimes poor countries and also just healthcare is better there. There are more trauma centers. Uh Our awareness of how to treat people who've been in an accident is just better than while so even though there are more people on the roads. I think that the the rates that ought to be coming down quicker curriculum is and so it sort of a disappointment. I think two people in this field. That isn't Joe. Thanks very much time. Thank you in a clear that wildfires like those that have ravaged Australia recently or exacerbated by climate change hot weather and drought make fires more likely to happen and more devastating when they do and alongside the danger to wildlife homes and human lives. Some of Australia's cultural cultural history is also at risk earlier this month for the first time the National Gallery in Canberra at closed due to smoke saying that it endangered the public the staff and even the art works and selves. Now around the world museums are working out how to protect their own irreplaceable artifacts from a changing environment because of climate change rising sea levels frequent while advise and storms off a lot of the world's greatest and most precious this offense at risk ritual dobbs reports for the economist said the lose flooded in July two thousand seventeen which damaged a very very well-known painting. Ironically not go the full seasons the feet together in Florence such close during a heat wave during the biennial in Venice last year. There's very heavy flooding which meant that. Some of the expedition's had to be closed down in volunteers had to salvage affects various places so as these weather events and disasters become more extreme. I'm more frequent. These objects are increasing risk. But as you say other Infrastructure is at risk coming. What can museum ziems specifically do to protect what they're supposed to protect so museums are actually ahead of the game in this respect and how good for a long time because they have always had you think so Catholic about how to look after the objects that are in that CAF international organizations which have been running for a while help museums capacity for disasters guides them in what they should do? That is the organization Blue Shield which is describes the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross sign often often a disaster they would come in and help institutions remove that ultra facts restore them that kind of thing but they also help with the replanning for those kinds of evacuations making sure the museum's collections know today. There's also the International Council of Museums. which is the the body that kind of overseas and helps with all aspects of Kotal heritage preservation and they very recently in November established a committee four for disaster resilient museums so the aim of that committee is teaching museums how they can make themselves but protected to disasters to such as floods all bald size and so in that sense there are already museums out there that have have made? The changes have prepared themselves for what seems now inevitable. Yes there are definitely museums. The have prepared incredibly well. Four the impact of climate change wipe bring particularly because they've got a lot news news. So example is the Getty Center in Los Angeles which because there have been years of wildfires in California. But they won't incredibly hard tomake the Getty Center essentially fireproof so the wolves are all made from limestone and cement steel. The rooftops are all of crushed stone. In which is not flammable. The works are housed within sort of self contained watchos. It's like a building within a building and have air systems which will keep smoke back out to smoke is one of the things that could be damaging to walk and not fats so if there is a wildfire raging they just completely shut it down succulent the themselves and make sure that nothing gets gets damaged. The extent to which getty is now. Five roof is so strong that that social media people released a blog saying why getty is the safest place in California Nya during a fire during the wildfires. This also the Whitney Museum of American art which is in New York offer Hurricane Sandy which is in two thousand twelve of which was actually the time at which the Whitney was being built. The museum decided that Take the risk of flooding credibly seriously. It sits on the banks of the Hudson River which does make it particularly vulnerable. And so it's been built. Essentially a fortress to withstand several meters funder. That is a seven thousand kilogram flood door which was designed by the engineers who make the patches on US Navy warships which can withstand a storm bashing up against and also also any of the things that still might throat such as a truck that is floating down a high-speed I mean that's that's all well and good for big and established and well Oh endowed museums. But that's not museums. No it's not aunt whilst these museums are doing a fantastic job. That is a real worry that the implementation of this kind of disaster planning will be on even because the institutions that have less money. Find it much harder to put up. These kind of defenses are also also obviously coach institutions. Uh spread out of the large areas. Such is the biennial in Venice. It will be very hard to protect all of that from something the flooding and yet there's a worry that small poll institutions and coach will be disproportionately damaged which is both ironic and already Saad because often those are the places that have the heritage of poorer or indigenous communities who themselves more risk of exchange. Rachel thank you very much for your time. And that's all for this episode of the Intelligence. If you like just give us a rating on Apple podcasts and you can subscribe to the economist at economist Dot com slash radio twelve issues per twelve dollars or twelve pounds tomorrow.

Coming up next