What impact will the global outbreak of the coronavirus have on peace and conflict around the world? Whether it is seeking ceasefires for humanitarian assistance or offering to soften international sanctions in exchange for political steps. The pandemic is opening new and unexpected war and peace scenarios. In Afghanistan, Libya, or Venezuela, conflicts are already being shaken up and, somehow, transformed.
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The global outbreak of the coronavirus is already having a considerable impact on conflicts around the world today. The uncertainty about the future that engulfs us all is also felt by the politicians or commanders embroiled in these conflicts. What perhaps they are less aware of is that as occur with the tsunami. The scope of the tragedy may also alter their core interests, objectives, and even world views, thus opening new, unexpected war and peace scenarios.
Perhaps the only certainty in any foreseeable scenario is that the Corona pandemic will address the impending global economic crisis at the forefront of most countries\’ agendas, particularly in the more exposed global south. They are resolving conflicts becoming less central to both local and international actors. The main question that will define these new scenarios is whether actors will seize opportunities for de-escalation emerging from the pandemic or whether decision-makers will try to take advantage of the situation to reach their goals.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis. its implications are more far-reaching and could threaten global peace and conflict also security. The UN Secretary-General told members of the Security Council in a closed video-conference held on Thursday.
António Guterres said heightened solidarity is needed if the world is to defeat the crisis, which he called the \”gravest test since the founding of this organization.\” with Governments already struggling to address rising unemployment and economic downturn.
\”But the pandemic also poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security. potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence. That would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease,\”
\”Indeed, a signal of unity and resolve from the Council would count for a lot at this anxious time,\” he said
In Afghanistan, COVID-19 emerged in the context of a disputed presidential election and a US-Taliban deal that includes the withdrawal of most US troops. In March, with the pandemic having sharply hit Europe and the US. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that due to the disputed election. The US was withdrawing $1 billion of aid and proceeding with its troop withdrawal as per its agreement with the Taliban.
However, the US\’s decision should understood as a political move in an election year amid a looming global economic crisis. The effects of a large-scale Corona crisis in Afghanistan, which borders Iran. The third most affected country by the pandemic, are as comfortable as they are terrifying to imagine.
The question now is how Afghan political actors will view this new scenario. The Taliban may see the US\’s disengagement as a window of opportunity to impose a political or even military victory. On the other hand, driven by a Corona crisis that will also affect the. Taliban commanders could allow extensive humanitarian access to areas they control and finally seek to enforce a ceasefire throughout the country. In this context, it is not impossible to imagine that strengthened pro-peace sectors in the government and the Taliban could even reach an intra-Afghan peace deal.
In this increasingly overt proxy war context. A scenario that is likely to play out in other conflicts affects by the pandemic appears to be emerging. Both the government and Haftar, perhaps pressured by external backers, are paying lip service to international calls for a Corona ceasefire. It could eventually result in limited humanitarian access. But it isn\’t easy to imagine external actors deciding to stop backing their local proxies in Libya. If anything, they may use this time to prepare the next offensive.
What scenario finally emerges in these and any other peace and conflict around the world will probably surprise us. Much like our ordinary lives, these conflicts are already being shaken up and, somehow, transformed. It is now the responsibility of politicians, mediators, civil society leaders, etc. To use the transformative effect of the Corona crisis, in any way possible, in the interests of peace. Whether it is seeking ceasefires for humanitarian assistance or offering to soften international sanctions in exchange for political steps. We must understand that what was impossible before the pandemic may be possible today.