Kawa Hassan Analyses Geopolitical Consequences of Coronavirus

Media Coverage | March 30, 2020

On March 27, EWI's Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa program Kawa Hassan spoke on Voice of America’s Kurdish Service “Kurd Connection” program to discuss the geopolitical impacts of Coronavirus.

Click here to watch the interview (in Kurdish). Click here to read the interivew in Arabic. An English translation of his interview follows below.

Ten major pandemics changed the course of human history. They reshaped relations within and between states/empires, politics, economy, society, security, relations between human beings and authorities, and between mankind and religion. Corona is the 11th pandemic, like previous pandemics, it will leave lasting impacts on our current and future histories, and for generations to come.

COVID-19 could reshape the global order. China moves and maneuvers to assert international leadership—despite its early missteps—it tries to show that its model of authoritarian intervention is more effective than liberal, democratic governance in combating corona contagion. While Western, liberal democratic powers show signs of inward isolationism. However how these trends will develop depend on the evolving dynamics in the coming months and years, the outcomes of diverse responses of major powers including U.S., EU and others to this pandemic. In short, too early to give a strategic prognosis. We need to keep an eye on strategic trends rather than short term trajectories.

At the moment, the world is in a state of shock and reaction to COVID-19. The pandemic is global, yet sadly the responses have been very fragmented and state focused. Each state focuses on its own society, something that runs counter to the interdependence nature of the "small village" world we live in. There is a lack of global leadership. Conspiracy theories are rife—some accuse China, while others accuse the U.S. of being the source and thus "creator" of this virus. For now, nationalist isolationism seems the order of the day, however this approach is not sustainable and will fail.

Coronavirus has dealt a hard, unexpected and unprecedented blow to globalization, it will leave its marks on globalization, but the world will not be de-globalized, in short this is not the end of globalization. Neither China, the U.S., EU nor any other power can solve this problem alone. The Chinese and American economies, as well as those of the EU and other powers, are more than ever interconnected and interdependent. The populists will try to show that their nationalist view based on building barriers and walls is the answer to this crisis (and other complex crises), however this is a fallacy. Only international solidarity and cooperation, and not nationalist isolationism, can contain and control this global contagion, and may lead to the emergence of a more just, global order.