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COVID-19 Temporarily Tamps Down Unrest in the Middle East

Emily Hawthorne
Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor
Thomas Abi-Hanna
Global Security Analyst, Stratfor
Mar 27, 2020 | 20:09 GMT
Lebanese President Michel Aoun (C) wears a face mask as a preventive measure against COVID-19 during a March 26, 2020, meeting in Beirut to evaluate measures taken against the virus' spread.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (C) wears a face mask as a preventive measure against COVID-19 during a March 26, 2020, meeting in Beirut to evaluate measures taken against the virus' spread.

(Lebanese Presidency Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via GETTY IMAGES)

Protest movements across the Middle East and North Africa, from Algeria to Lebanon and Iraq, have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fear of the virus' spread has deterred these movements from organizing in the streets more than the intermittent threat of crackdowns by security forces even though these were especially violent in Iraq. The underlying factors driving these movements remained largely unresolved, however, and the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will leave these countries with even fewer tools to appease protesters once the disease dissipates. So while the COVID-19 pandemic will depress anti-government demonstrations and activism in the near term, its inevitably negative economic impacts will spark more unrest later in the year in protest hotspots once the greatest danger of COVID-19 has passed....

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