10May/20

COVID-19 and the Cost of Human Life

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By NIR BOMS, HUSSEIN ABOUBAKR, Jerusalem Post, May 10th 2020

The recent weeks have awakened us to a new and unprecedented reality. Life is at stake, we are told, and life is precious, priceless, in fact. The world needs our actions to save life. There is no price for human life, unless of course it’s someone else’s life or someone else’s war. For that, we will not halt our world. We will not close a single shop. We might just change the channel.

The Covid-19 outbreak presented us with a real-life question of how far we are willing to protect and preserve life. For most of us, citizens of the “lucky world,” this was the first time such a question has been posed, not in a metaphysical sense but as one with real-life consequences. The disruption and the near-complete global halt is due to the drastic measures taken to curtail the spread of the virus. The world-wide response has indeed been impressive. Borders were shut, cities were locked down and national emergencies were declared. As it stands today, the unprecedented global death toll of the new virus has crossed the 250,000 mark, still mostly among the elderly. Our measures appear effective in slowing the virus’s progression and “flattening the curve.” But what more are we to do if that death toll climbs? How about 300,000? What if the number approaches half a million human lives lost to the pandemic?

When it comes to global crises, those numbers are not fictional. They are very real numbers of real lost lives from the last decade alone. Some 700,000 Syrians lost their lives since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, with a peak of 20,000 a month. Syrian healthcare systems, schools, infrastructures, water and sanitation system are entirely destroyed. Once-busy marketplaces and bazaars in historic city centers have been reduced to rubble and ash. Parents buried children who died from bombs or who drowned in the Mediterranean. The coronavirus might spare the lives of children, but war doesn’t.

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05May/20

Syria vs Turkey amid the Coronavirus crisis

The entire Middle East seems to be focused on the coronavirus crisis. While the spreading contagion is indeed a major issue everywhere, it is not the only one. In northern Syria, the Assad regime and Turkey are still in conflict, with various other powers involved directly or indirectly.

To look at this persistent problem, which will probably outlast even, the pandemic we invite:

– Jonathan Hessen, Host.

– Amir Oren, Analyst.

– Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, Research Fellow, Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University. –

– Dr. Nir Boms, Research Fellow, Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University.

29Apr/20

لحظة شبيهة بكارثة تشيرنوبيل في إيران

لحظة شبيهة بكارثة تشيرنوبيل في إيران

متاح أيضاً في English

24 نيسان/أبريل 2020

بينما يبدو أن عددًا من البلدان يحاول فتح أبوابه، فقد تصدرت إيران عناوين الصحف باعتبارها أحد البلاد التي تعيد فتح أبوابها تدريجيًا. فهي من جهة تعاني وضعًا اقتصاديًا صعبًا يشتمل على انهيار غير مسبوق لأسعار النفط وعقوبات أمريكية جديدة. ولكن استمرار النظام الإيراني في التعامل مع الأزمة باستخفاف قد يثير تساؤلات عما إذا كان سيخطئ في إدارة إعادة فتح البلاد أيضًا وما إذا كانت البلاد ستصل إلى مرحلة يصبح فيها التهميش الذي يختبره الشعب الإيراني كافيًا ليشكل نقطة أساسية للإطاحة بالنظام؟

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25Apr/20

A Chernobyl Moment in Tehran

Also available in العربية

Fikra Forum, April 24, 2020

As several states seem to experiment with opening up, Iran has made headlines as one of the countries experimenting with a gradual reopening of the country. However, the Iranian regime’s consistent mishandling of the crisis raises the question of whether this reopening too will be mismanaged, and whether the country will reach a point where the alienation felt by the Iranian public be enough to be a major tipping point for the regime.

Iran’s failures during the coronavirus crisis has presented a sort of existential crisis for the regime. Its early inability to admit to, much less contain the outbreak—and its subsequent inability to manage the public health response required by COVID19, have shown the regime’s indifference to the wellbeing of the its own people, steadily increasing the public’s sense of alienation.

The catastrophe that has unfolded in Iran is in several ways reminiscent of history’s worst nuclear accident, which occurred in the former Soviet Union just 34 years ago. Many mark the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which killed thousands, as the moment that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union five years later. More than anything else, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster helped the people of Soviet Union realize that they had been systematically lied to by the Soviet regime for over 70 years. As Soviet leaders scrambled to cover up the disaster, their denials and concurrently slow efforts to contain the leak demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice human lives in order not to embarrass the state. This undeniable reality as the Chernobyl disaster became too large to hide and prompted even loyal citizens to question their government—this stark example of state failure helped the entire system begin to unravel. 

The slow reaction of the current Iranian Regime, like Soviet leaders, revealed their total disregard for their own people, gradually shattering the illusion of supremacy. In the former USSR, this disillusionment opened a path to a stronger “Perestroika,” which in turn unraveled the mechanisms of fear that had helped keep the regime apparatus in place. And while the dynamics of the two states are different in many ways, the stakes of a potential Chernobyl moment in Iran are just as high for the region and the world.

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