Iran has been at the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic in Central and West Asia. By May 5th, the Iranian Health Commission had informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about 98647 cases and 6277 confirmed deaths in the country.
As Iran’s coronavirus pandemic recedes and its economy slowly reopens, the prospective health security of Iranians remains under the dual threat of a looming second wave of infections and an economy in its second consecutive year of contraction under one of the harshest sanctions regimes in history.
Describing a decade of developments in North Africa is no simple task. The last ten years have offered each North African State its own redefining moment(s) to grapple with, making a case for observing their distinctive contexts and the complex processes stemming from the different choices and strategies adopted by these countries.
As the Covid-19 spreads rapidly on a global scale and states worldwide are struggling with the pandemic, many concerns are arising over the future of fragile and conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa, where the consequences of the coronavirus are expected to be direr and more destabilizing.
Popular mobilisation is one of the key recurring elements that have characterised Chinese politics since Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and has entered Beijing’s political grammar as a well-established practice. It has featured prominently even after the reform era initiated by Deng Xiaoping, for instance after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Iraq’s Shiite militias have reached the pinnacle of power and politics in recent years, in large part because of the emergence of the so-called Islamic state (IS) and the collapse of the Iraqi army but also because of the diminished capacity of the Iraqi state after more than a decade of corruption and political instability.
So-called ‘illicit economies’ have existed in North Africa for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It is in this region - perhaps more than anywhere else in the world - that theline between licit and illicit trade is blurred. Many ‘transnational’ smuggling routes predate the very borders they transgress.
The areas in north and north east Syria, currently referred to as being under “Kurdish" control, are sometimes called Rojava, more officially referred to as the Democratic Self Administration (DSA) area. This administration is lead under strong influences from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of mainly Kurdish, but also some Arab and Assyrian forces that came together, with support from the US-led coalition, to combat ISIS in those areas.
With the economy faltering and discontent rising, the coronavirus pandemic could hardly have been better timed for Lebanon’s embattled Hezbollah.
A public health-mandated lockdown freed the squares of protesters, halting a civil movement that has continued unabated since October and giving the Iran-backed group an opportunity to repair its tarnished image. For a short while, the virus provided the illusion that a newly found common enemy could stir things back towards the post-Civil War sectarian order.
The plausible diffusion in European countries most affected by Covid-19 never manages to go above 7%, and in almost all instances still remains below the 5% threshold. Italy, UK, France, and Spain see their plausible virus prevalence at between 3% and 4%, while Germany's plausible prevalence is even lower, at below 1%.