Early in the pandemic, POMEPS convened an online workshop with a diverse group of scholars working across the MENA region to discuss the initial impacts and to think through possible trajectories. That workshop resulted in POMEPS Studies 39, which included twenty-one essays ranging across the MENA region. Several major themes ran across those essays. We collectively expected regimes to securitize the pandemic, using the excuse of lockdowns to crack down on a protest wave that had reached multiple countries in 2019 and to further entrench authoritarian rule. We expected variation in state capacity to be a critical variable in terms of the ability of states to effectively respond to the pandemic. And several essays anticipated soft power international competition, as great powers used vaccine diplomacy to sway public attitudes their way.
Two years on, how did those predictions hold up? In April 2022, POMEPS convened a follow-up workshop with some of the same scholars and a number of new contributors to assess how well those early projections panned out, and to assess the actual impacts of COVID on the region after two years. We are delighted to now publish the results of that workshop and ongoing conversations among a diverse group of scholars of the region.
Lalla Amina Drhimeur
Mona Harb, Ahmad Gharbieh, Mona Fawaz and Luna Dayekh
Kevin Koehler, Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl
Claudia Youakim, Crystel Abdallah
Maro Youssef, Sarah Yerkes