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Middle East is still in shambles, but the UN’s attention has moved on for now

13 2 17

BEIRUT, Lebanon — There was a time not long ago when uprisings and wars in the Arab world topped the agenda at the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York.

With most of those conflicts in a stalemate, the world’s focus has shifted to more daunting global challenges such as the still raging coronavirus pandemic and climate change, as well as new crises in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

But the situation in the Middle East has deteriorated significantly in more countries and in more ways in the last two years. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are teetering on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe, with skyrocketing poverty and an economic implosion that threatens to throw the region into even deeper turmoil.

“The region’s been crowded out by other global crises, but there’s also a sense of Western hopelessness after so many years of crisis,” said Julien Barnes-Dacey, the director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

After more than a decade of bloodshed and turmoil sparked by Arab Spring uprisings and an Islamic State terror group onslaught, most of the region’s Arab countries have settled into a military stalemate or frozen conflict, accompanied by worsening economies, rising poverty rates and heavier repression.

In Yemen, an ongoing six-year war has spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving the country on the brink of famine. The head of the UN food agency warned on Wednesday that 16 million people there “are marching towards starvation.”

Libya, torn apart for years by rival militias backed by foreign governments, is struggling to find unity. From its shores, more and more desperate people are risking their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into........

© The Times of Israel

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