The epidemic of cancer in Iraq that emerged after the 1991 Gulf War has afflicted nearly every family. In response to a health care system devastated by sanctions and war, Iraqis acquired decades of experience piecing together novel mechanisms for obtaining treatment. The tendency of families to rely on their own knowledge and practices around disease is, however, no match for the coronavirus pandemic and the corruption of political elites that enables its spread. Forthcoming in MER issue 297 “Health and the Body Politic.”
As Turkish scholars residing in the United States when the pandemic began to curtail normal life, Ergin Bulut and Başak Can signed on to take the Turkish government’s evacuation flight home. This experience and their time spent in government-managed quarantine yielded interesting insights into the state’s intense efforts to rebrand itself as caring and effective, particularly after consolidating power during the 2018 switch from a parliamentary to presidential system.
The Iranian government is fighting against the coronavirus pandemic not only with travel restrictions and social distancing rules, but also with ideological tools that promote unity and resistance. Through the production of posters and other media, Iran is creating connections between earlier battles, such as the Iran-Iraq war, and the current health crisis. Kevin Schwartz and Olmo Gölz trace the lineage of the iconography used in these images and the ideological efforts behind them.
With its national government in fragments and fighting ongoing, Libya was in an extremely vulnerable position when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March. Four months later, however, infection rates have been kept relatively low. Nada Elfeituri explores the crucial role of post-Qaddafi civil society in confronting the coronavirus and the still precarious position of the Libyan people.
Palestine is heading into a disastrous recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic’s paralysis of economic life combined with structural factors specific to the Palestinian economy. Colin Powers explains why the Palestinian Authority is unable to generate the necessary level of revenue to support its citizens, including the pernicious role of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the PA’s misguided choice to hand economic management to Palestinian business elites.
While people around the world are under lockdown, Palestinian workers in Israel continue to labor in the now accelerated construction sector. While Israel’s project of control and expansion exploits their labor, Palestinians are put at greater risk without proper testing, accommodations or healthcare.
Refugees everywhere are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza are legally under the protection of the UN and Israel. Are these authorities meeting their obligations? Amahl Bishara talks to Badil director Nidal Al-Azza to find out and to learn how communities are coping.
Lebanon’s highly privatized system of health care is presenting challenges to implementing a public health approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the country already suffering from multiple political and economic crises, containment of the coronavirus has been more effective than expected. But serious obstacles to the public’s health and well being remain.
Andrea Wright talks to South Asian migrant workers in the Gulf to find out how the pandemic is affecting their lives. They explain that if they stay in the Gulf, they risk abandonment by their employers and coronavirus infection from cramped living conditions. If they return to India under lockdown, they face starvation, mounting debts, joblessness and anti-Muslim sentiment. There are no good choices.
Is the Algerian state using the COVID-19 crisis and the suspension of weekly street protests as an opportunity to put an end to the Hirak social movement? What is the Hirak doing now? How is the government responding to the pandemic? Muriam Haleh Davis interviews the Algerian journalist Selma Kasmi to find out.