The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Palestine has exposed its structural vulnerability in a context of occupation. Events are still unfolding, but there is great concern that COVID-19 may severely affect Palestinian society, possibly causing a devastating sanitary, economic, and political crisis.
As the war in Yemen enters its sixth year, plenty of new and traditional security providers operate, and compete, at the local level. Changes in security governance describe quick political fragmentation and reordering of security relations: in many cases, the agents of protection are, contemporarily, agents of coercion.1 In the eyes of local communities, multiple security actors fill the same roles and perform similar or overlapped duties.
Iran ranks third, after Italy and China, for the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide. As of March 19, 1,284 people have died and 18,407 have been infected, according to the Iranian Ministry of Health. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, suspects the actual numbers could be five times higher.
At the beginning of March, Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab officially confirmed that Lebanon would not pay a $1.2 billion Eurobond due to mature that same month. Lebanon’s default comes after an unprecedented wave of protests has caused growing political instability and economic uncertainty since last October.
Lebanon’s sovereign default comes at a heavy price for Hezbollah. This is not simply because of Hezbollah’s powerful role within the government that failed to repay a $1.2 bn bond on 10 March 2020. This is mainly because Hezbollah’s rivals are likely to use the current financial crisis to impose an external authority over Lebanon and increase pressure on the ‘Party of God’ to disband its armed wing.
Mourad Ayyash, a Lebanese citizen living in the Northern city of Tripoli, entered his bank on March 6, spilled gasoline over himself and threatened to self-immolate. A video of Mourad at the bank went viral across different social media platforms, but more importantly on WhatsApp – Lebanon’s most popular messaging app and the straw that broke the camel’s back. Apparently, Mr. Ayyash had been visiting the bank for 2 weeks straight, demanding to withdraw money from his own savings account.
Lebanon defaulted on its debt for the first time in the country’s history.
Since October 17, 2019, unprecedented popular protests have erupted in Lebanon motivated by demands for socio-economic rights and the reform of a highly corrupted and sectarian political system. The deterioration of economic and social conditions in Lebanon has also affected the 1.5 million Syrian refugees as well as the Palestinians and other communities of displaced people living in the country.
Economically speaking, Lebanon is an interesting case study in many respects. Like several Mediterranean countries such as Italy or Greece, it is characterized by huge public debt (151% of GDP). At the same time, like several northern liberal and service-based economies – and unlike most Mediterranean economies except for Turkey – it shows low levels of household savings.
China’s growing interest in the Persian Gulf – together with all the talking of U.S. retrenchment from the very same region – gives rise to a question: will China’s increasing economic interest in the Persian Gulf lead to a more activist security policy there? And, to put it bluntly, will China and the U.S. switch roles in the long term? To answer these questions, we need to consider a few aspects. First, what is the strategic relevance of the Gulf to China? Second, how do U.S. and Chinese interests in the region overlap, and how do they separate?