The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on the Mena geopolitical landscape. While many governments have taken the chance to impose stricter measures of public control, in terms of security the virus has slowed conflict dynamics in some theatres, such as Yemen and Syria, but has also exacerbated the impact of war and economic crisis across the region as a whole. In parallel, regional diplomacy is also witnessing both new reconciliatory efforts and deepening divides. With international actors and organizations partially downsizing their presence or reorienting their focus in light of the virus, more uncertainty is likely to loom. To further complicate the situation, the lack of an efficient public health system, too long neglected by local governments, combines with the high percentage of refugees in densely-populated and ill-fitted camps, thus creating the equation for a perfect pandemic storm, especially in terms of humanitarian costs.
Marina Sereni, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International cooperation, Italy
Ahmed Al-Mandhari, Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, World Health Organization
Paolo Magri, Executive Vice President and Director, ISPI, Italy
Stefano Manservisi, Former DG, DGDEV, EU Commission; Distinguished Fellow, CGD and ODI
Randa Slim, Director, Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues Program, MEI, USA
Maha Yahya, Director, Carnegie Middle East Center, Lebanon
The video of this MED Virtual Panel is available at this link.