A ‘State of Emergency’ or the ‘State of Exception’? Bahrain and Covid-19

Sanaa Alsarghali is Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law, An-Najah National University (s.alsarghali@najah.edu) and author of The ‘State of Emergency’ or the ‘State of Exception’: Bahrain and COVID19

In response to the covid-19 pandemic, governments across the world have had to implement emergency measures to confront the crisis. These measures have come in various forms, ranging from economic stimulus packages to establishing varying degrees of lockdown. These types of rapidly implemented measures are deemed as emergency provisions, often declared though calling a ‘state of emergency’, as they allow governments to pass regulations without going through normal legislation procedures. Whilst many of these measures are appropriate, and indeed effective, in managing the spreads of the virus, the increasing frequency of emergency power use has caused discomfort in some quarters that fear constitutional norms and democratic principles could become subverted if emergency power use becomes normalised. At its most extreme, the use of emergency powers by governments become perpetuated indefinitely, a condition of governance that has been termed as a ‘state of exception’ in which the citizenship is unaware of this prolonged state of emergency and normalisation of emergency powers.

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Season of Migration from the Oil Lake: The Economy of Hatred in the Gulf States

D. Rashed Alrasheed (zainrashedeen@gmail.com) is Fellow at the Richardson Institute, Lancaster University and author of COVID-19 and the Hatred of Expatriate Workers in the Gulf States

In 2020, the spread of the epidemic in the Gulf States among expats has led to an increase in hate speech towards them. According to Human Rights Watch, COVID-19 had spread rapidly among foreign workers in the Gulf States because they live in small, indecent and unsanitary housing. The Gulf governments have not been able to follow measures of social distancing among expatriates because their places of residence are overcrowded and they live in isolated and poor areas.

With the outbreak of the epidemic, health authorities in the Gulf countries have published through newspapers and TV channels the numbers of new infections among foreigners and citizens in order to alleviate the citizens’ fears. However, the publication of statistics in the media to distinguish the spread of the epidemic between expatriates and citizens has led to an increase in hate speech towards foreign workers. Although there are political and social reasons for xenophobia, economic factors have a major impact on the growth of hate speech against expat workers.

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Gulf States and Islamist Responses to Covid-19: a changing relationship.

Lucia Ardovini (lucia.ardovini@ui.se) is a Research Associate at The Swedish Institute of International Affairs and author of Gulf States and Islamist Responses to COVID19: A Changing Relationship

The outbreak of Covid-19 and its quick spread across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the Gulf is shining a light on the unpreparedness of states and societies that, long before the pandemic, were already struggling to cope with the effects of decades of social unrest, failing state institutions, interrupted political transitions, civil wars and proxy conflicts. In turn, different state reactions to Covid-19 are also exposing glaring differences in state capacity and economic resources.

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Post-Pandemic Politics in the Oil-Addicted Gulf

Karen E. Young is Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute (Karen.Young@AEI.org) and author of Twin Crises Deepen Gulf States’ Policy Competition and Independence

In ‘Twin Crises Deepen Gulf States’ Policy Competition and Independence’, I argue that, for the Gulf Arab states, the twin crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and the collapse of oil prices in 2020 have accelerated trends already in motion. For finance ministers, it must feel like bailing out a sinking boat with a tin cup.

There will be no simple policy solution to the structural pressures for fiscal reform. The oil exporters of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), even the wealthier ones like the United Arab Emirates, simply have higher spending patterns than their current revenues support.  But the Covid-19 pandemic has called upon states to intervene and support domestic economies, making the competing priorities of shrinking public sector payrolls and stimulating domestic demand all the more difficult. What emerges are trade-offs that reveal leadership priorities, and important distinctions within the ever-weakening body of the GCC on a range of policies from immigration, labor markets, tax and sovereign debt.

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Editor’s Choice December 2020: COVID-19 in the Gulf

Matthew Johnson, Editor and Senior Lecturer in Politics, Lancaster University (m.johnson@lancaster.ac.uk)

As we might expect, this Editor’s Choice concerns COVID-19. Our focus lies on examining an underreported set of impacts on a region which has generally garnered coverage on account of human conflict: the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The legacy of resource scarcity and resource curses, socio-economic inequalities and sectarian and religious conflict has been to create significant vulnerabilities to communicable disease. As such, it was no surprise to see Iran, for example, a country long subject to international sanctions, particularly affected by the pandemic. Given that so much coverage of COVID-19 has focused on crises in Europe and the Americas, it is extremely important that we understand the nature of the pandemic in the Gulf insofar as it has both the possibility of exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and other, non-pandemic crises.

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