Should The Middle East Form Unity?

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Although the Middle East didn’t listen to precautions to stop travel at first, they eventually followed the guidelines and closed their borders, But their lack of reaction at first caused more harm than good. Their lack of unity has resulted in their lack of reaction and that puts them at a greater risk. The Middle East has a long history of pandemics and the Plague and Covid-19 were some of the major one’s that were very similar. They are similar because they both spread because of travel and they both had to stop religious pilgrimage.  

The Middle East government is struggling to unify with one another.  They have a long history of pandemics starting with the plague and now they’re dealing with Covid-19. As said before, the Middle East at the beginning of Covid-19 wasn’t taking precaution as stated,“An investigation by BBC News Arabic has analysed flight tracking data and open source footage which shows how Iran’s largest airline – Mahan Air – continued to fly while government flight bans were in place, and contributed to the spread of Covid-19 in the Middle East.” If they would have followed what the government ordered them to do, they wouldn’t have been in this predictable situation. I understand that many outgoing and ingoing flights are necessary for family concerns, but proceeding with flight as they did was non-ethical and should have been better regulated. This proves lack of unity because if they unified all of the airlines would have listened to precautions as that would keep their people safe and since they didn’t do that, shows how they don’t care about their own people. Due to the airlines, the CoronaVirus has spread rapidly.  Similarly, during the black death, people in the Middle East traveled to trade with other countries which led to the spread of the Plague. Acoording to Khan Academy, “The spread of disease and trade went hand in hand, and no event illustrates this relationship better than the outbreak of bubonic plague in the mid-14th century, an event more commonly known today as the Black Death.” The Middle East has several common themes on why sickness continues to spread and that is because of travel. 

This problem is happening because of the governments in the Middle East. They are refusing to change the ideology of their society. As said by the Washington Post, “the crisis and the ways in which governments have handled it. Instead of building a coalition to reform their flailing health sectors, Middle Eastern rulers are using their control over the media to convince their populations that everything is fine and blame shortcomings on imaginary enemies.” With the government not wanting to help with the outbreak the Middle East will suffer. I believe each country in the Middle East should unite and use each other’s resources to better their health care. A reason why they might refuse to unite is due to their differences in beliefs that have nothing to do with their approaches to coronavirus. According to History.com, Some countries are Shi’a In, slam and others are Sunni Islam which creates a big conflict because a majority of muslims are Sunni except people who are from the countries Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, etc. They coudn’t agree on who should be the leader after the death of prophet Mohammed (sws). They lived peacefully until the 20th century when they battled against each other for religious and political supremacy. This is important to know because this information goes back centuries and may relate to why Middle Eastern countries don’t want to unify during a time of crisis. 

As stated by the reliefweb.int, the Shia and Sunni conflict continues even today during Covid-19. Saudi Arabia is a Shia province and when only Shia citizens were put on lockdown, they felt like they were being targeted by the government. Shia citizens have always felt marginalized and this outbreak represents their hatred for one another. 

Middle Eastern countries also do not want aid from other countries. The country Iran believes that this is an American plot. The Washington Post stated that the region is posting conspiracy theories and in March the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected the United States offer to help and said that America’s medicine will help the spread of the virus. 

The Middle East has a long history of pandemics. The most common one people know about is the Bubonic Plague. Almost all of the countries in the Middle East have reported human plague outbreaks. This disease is said to be originally found in animals before it reached humans. Iran has been the active site of the plague focus. An Article from the National Center for Biotechnology wrote, “a research center founded in 1952 as part of the Pasteur Institute of Iran; at this center, extensive studies have been carried out on rodents and other animal hosts of Y. pestis in Iran.” Y.pestis is a bacteria that can be spread to humans if they are bitten or scratched from an infected animal. Some ways we could help the Middle East is to implement the plague in their medical education system. It is imperative to inform medical practitioners and healthcare workers to obtain knowledge of the cycle of Y.pestis and the signs of a plague in order for them to identify the disease. They shoud also educate their own citizens of the plague and other zooonic diseases. 

The Middle East had added other precautions other than closing their borders and stopping flights. As reported by reliefweb.int, the United Arab Emiratesthey implemented social distancing while the virus was at its infancy. While Saudi Arabia has created a curfew that lasts from dusk to dawn. Saudi Arabia prevented religious pilgrimages at the two holiest sites which are Mecca and Madina. Additionally,  Saudi Arabia also banned all prayers in mosques. Additionally, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodoz Church closed its churches and suspended mass. Even funerals and visits to Allah’s shrine were cancelled.

This map is displaying the outbreak is Arab countries and the amount of cases each country has and the number of deaths. 

Referring to pharmaceutical-technology.com, the first reported case in Iran was on February 19 and they have 32,332 cases of the CoronaVirus. Iran also reported about 2,780 deaths. Iran is struggling to acces CoronaVirus diagnostic kits and treatments due to sanctions by the United States. 

Call to action: While in the United Arab Emirates, they reported their first case on January29 and 333 people tested positive for Covid-19. The UAE got the virus because of a family who came to Wuhan, China. Eversince the outbreak they have closed flights trvaling to China, Thailand, and Iran.  Also in Saudi Arabia has reported an estimate of 1,000 confirmed cases on March 2. Saudia’s first case has said to come from a citizen who has returned from Iran, They have 25 hospitals ready to serve Covid-19 patients. 

A daily dashboard from Saudi Arabia says that there has been about 26,000 people tested. There have been 45 deaths and 1,837 recovered and 4,301 new cases. 

One of my solutions to the problem in the Middle East is to educate Middle Eastern citizens on the plague and other viruses since they’re prone to these types of outbreaks. They need to educate doctor’s and prepare them for when a future plague comes. Adding on, the government’s needs to become allies with one another to settle their differences. In addition, they have had conflict for centuries and if they don’t work it out the future will not be bright for them. They need to make a system similar to the European Union or an ally just like how the US has with Canada. Furthermore, they should follow protocol earlier so that the spread of disease doesn’t get out of hand.  Lastly, They need to work on healthcare because following these precautions will not be enough because the economy is poor and many people can’t keep clean. To conclude, by making Middle Eastern countries united they will limit their risk of any harm to their people, build their economy, and access more resources.