Middle East Notes and Comment: The Middle East’s Challenges Aren’t Just Combatting the Virus
April 29, 2020
The Bible asserts that Egypt suffered 10 plagues during the Exodus story, and Covid-19 may well have shaped up to be the eleventh. Early news of sustained infections on Nile cruise boats in February raised fears that thousands of undiagnosed cases were floating around in Egypt. If infections were already widespread, whatever Egypt did to encourage social distancing seemed likely to fail because of a late start, poor compliance, crowded housing, and limited health care capacity.
Whether one takes at face value Egypt’s reports of 5,042 cases and 359 deaths, it seems very likely that Egypt hasn’t fared so poorly.
Read Jon Alterman's new commentary on the CSIS website.
The Middle East Program co-hosted a virtual event with CSIS's Global Health Policy Center and the Humanitarian Agenda on April 27th. Jon and Steve Morrison talked with Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, about the implications of COVID-19 in Yemen. You can watch a recording of the event on our website or read the transcript.
Babel: Translating the Middle East
In the most recent episode of Babel, Jon was joined by Ariane Tabatabai from the German Marshall Fund to discuss the ramifications of COVID-19 in Iran.
In another episode, Jon interviewed the Brookings Institution's Tarik Yousef about the economic implications of COVID-19 in the Middle East. Jon also talked with Dr. Elisabeth Kendall from the University of Oxford about her work in Yemen and her research on jihadi poetry.
In a response to the fast-changing information landscape on COVID-19, Jon released a short video on social media about the three main things one needs to know about the coronavirus in the Middle East.
In the News
Jon spoke to TIME about U.S. aid to Palestine during COVID-19, saying “When I’ve spoken to administration officials, they’ve argued that the Palestinians are responsible for their own conditions and the opportunities are there for the Palestinians to ameliorate their own conditions.” (04/03/20).
“In the current environment, the chances are very low, but the environment keeps changing," said Jon about a potential shift in U.S. policy towards Iran. Reuters (03/31/20).
Jon was also quoted in Bloomberg for his work on the virus in an article about how COVID-19 will cause economic catastrophes. (03/28/20).
Jon's work on COVID-19 in the Middle East was referenced in a Financial Times piece by David Gardner. (03/26/20).