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One year on: The reverberations of the war in the Middle East

Article by Prof Simon Mabon

February 24, 2023

One year on: The reverberations of the war in the Middle East

A year into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the reverberations of the conflict continue to be felt across the Middle East. The centrality of the Middle East within global supply chains and geopolitical calculations means that such reverberations are hardly surprising, yet the second order consequences for the people of the region remain catastrophic. In the early days of the conflict, Antonio Gutierrez warned that the conflict risked pushing “tens of millions of people” into food insecurity. A year later, there appears little respite. 


In Yemen, 30-40 per cent of the country’s wheat imports – which account for 95 per cent of the country’s total usage – come from Russia and Ukraine, meaning that shortages and price rises of around 15 per cent from the previous year have had a devastating impact on people; similar experiences can be found in Syria and Lebanon. In Egypt, where the Sisi regime sought to placate rising unrest with bread subsidies, rising prices have pushed the cost of subsidies up $1.5 billion, prompting Cairo to seek a loan from the IMF. 


Many of the grievances that led to the mass protests of 2011 known as the Arab Uprisings remain, namely authoritarianism, corruption, inflation, a lack of economic opportunities, and rising food prices. Foreign policy agendas have also been a source of anger for many, such as Iran’s costly support for Hizballah in Lebanon, or the Saudi and Emirati involvement in the Yemen war. A year into the war in Ukraine, the second-order long-term consequences for people and states across the Middle East may be huge.

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