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.
Matthew Johnson, Editor and Senior Lecturer in Politics, Lancaster University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.