In many countries, the COVID-19 outbreak brought to the surface the sad reality of poor governance in the public health sector. In Tunisia, the pandemic only exacerbated an already glaring problem. From 2013 onwards, Tunisian health professionals highly mobilized and contested the rapid decline of public health services.
While the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) infrastructure projects aim to reduce the impact of oil price volatility on the Gulf economies, the projects’ viability remains directly linked to government spending, and thus revenues from oil, and are currently vulnerable to the oil price war, COVID-19 and, subsequently, the economic recession, supply-chain disruptions, and labor risks.
First the China-US trade war, then the coronavirus pandemic. The global economy is suffering from increased instability in international politics and the sudden emergence of global “black swans”. The impact of this new situation on oil prices has been deep, and risks deepening: notwithstanding a first Opec + agreement to cut production, US Oil prices have plunged today, hitting a historic low.
Global oil demand has hit historical lows over the last weeks due to the economic slowdown caused by the Covid19 pandemic. Big producers such as Saudi Arabia and Russia have been bickering over collective production cuts and have engaged in a deadly price war that pushed prices down to 20 dollars per barrel.
The spread of COVID-19 has hit countries and regimes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at a time already characterised by deep-seated issues, such as ongoing conflicts, widespread popular protests and economic crises. These ongoing insecurities partially explain what is behind several governments’ attempts at minimising or dismissing the real threat posed by the pandemic, as presidents and rulers attempt to maintain a hold on increasingly unstable societies and political systems.
COVID-19 has now hit most of the world since its outbreak in December 2019. Governments around the world are trying to contain the virus with measures aimed, in particular, at limiting human contact as much as possible. The main fear is the explosion of critical cases to a level that could overwhelm healthcare systems. While measures seem to be working with varying degrees in each country, the damages they incur to the economy are yet to be measured.
One year from the start of General Khalifa Haftar’s offensive against Tripoli, the civil war in Libya is still raging despite continuous demands from the United Nations and the international community for a humanitarian truce to help combat COVID-19.
The coronavirus pandemic is the first truly global event of this century. From mainland China, Covid-19 spread quickly to all continents, exposing significant disparities in the responses from different societies and political regimes. The MENA region has been no exception, showing substantial variations in the measures adopted by governments and in the reactions of citizens to the crisis.
The Kingdom of Morocco has been implementing a set of extremely severe measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country, so harsh that the Spanish newspaper El Paìs classified it at the top of the countries that adopted major restrictions in their fight against the pandemic.
As in other countries, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses particular to Israel society and governance. These shortcomings are not revelatory. Instead, the coronavirus’ spread shines a spotlight on familiar, systemic issues consistently neglected over the decades.