New BLOG post | The asymmetric impact of Covid19 in the armed conflicts of the Middle East | Olivier Roy

An Iraqi soldier armed with an assault rifle pointed to the ground watching traffic flow by at a roadblock in Baghdad. Narrow DOF, vehicles blurred.; Shutterstock ID 102786389

Epidemics, like the many plagues that have struck Europe (for example in 1347 at the start of the Hundred Years War and during the Thirty Years War in 1618-1648), have never ended a war in history, even though sometimes they have played a long-term role by weakening empires or exhausting the fighters.

There are two ways in which the current epidemic could play a role in the present conflicts in the Middle East:

– by inflicting unbearable casualties on the civilian population, which might then oppose any military interventions abroad or push the different sides in a civil war to find an agreement;

– by undermining the military capacities of one or several actors, thus changing the balance of power (e.g. the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier was struck by the epidemic in March 2020).


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