If it had not been for the coronavirus that has threatened the lives of millions of people, we certainly would never have seen several unexpected political interactions. These movements, though dictated by the urgency and the seriousness of the virus threat, signal a retreat to the safe haven of human behaviour as opposed to political manoeuvres. Who would ever have expected a long peaceful chat of cooperation between the American and the Chinese presidents, who expected Iran to extend a helping hand to Americans in their fight against the virus, or who expected medical kits to be dropped by Saudi jets over Houthi territories?
Is there a light at the end of this dark COVID 19 tunnel… should we expect that? It all depends on learning the lesson of the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump, who months ago launched a trade war against China, felt the need to deal with the Chinese, who managed to overcome the dilemma of COVID 19. Trump discussed means of cooperation between the two sides to fight the virus. Surprisingly, his Chinese counterpart was also willing to help by sending medical supplies to the US, saying that we are all just waves in the same sea.
Moreover, Trump had put an end to the war ignited between Russia and Saudi Arabia over oil prices which threatened the international economic balance. Within weeks of this war, oil prices fell to $20 per barrel, adding greatly to the economic burden not only of Riyadh and Moscow but to that of other oil exporting countries in dire need for economic stabilisation like Venezuela, Nigeria and Algeria to be able to fight the virus.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad had also received a call from Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, who said that Damascus will not fight the virus all by itself, thereby mending wounds of several years of enmity that shattered the Arab ranks.
Meantime, Saudi jets made several trips over the Houthi territories in Yemen, dropping medical kits to help people protect themselves against the threat of COVID 19. And despite the ongoing harsh sanctions imposed by the United States against Iran, Iranian officials extended a helping hand to Americans through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, offering to send a huge number of PCRs to the United States, which in return said it is willing to unfreeze some of the Iranian funds in its banks.
These behaviours are human reactions to the virus’ spread all over the world. People are not only threatened by a death sentence, but even those who survive the fight against COVID 19 will face a new world with giant economic challenges. Rich and poor countries alike will have to face a serious downward trend in economic activities, huge debts, and the heavy burden of the social and medical consequences left behind by the virus.
Countries all over the world are fighting on two fronts: COVID 19 and its consequent economic downturn. The virus has left no place for arms races or investing in conflicts around the globe to assume supremacy, or for a cold or hot war over oil prices.
COVID 19, if nothing else, has managed to bring governments back to their senses and to realise that conflicts, be they big or small, should be settled peacefully. The Arab world should have also learned this lesson the hard way. They should have learned that the military fronts are not exactly the right place to solve their problems. Weakening the Arab League was not to anyone's benefit. They should have sensed the need for a means to resolve the inter-Arab conflicts by Arab states only, especially those who were not involved in such bloody confrontations like Egypt, which has been calling for peaceful settlements.
Now, we have a great opportunity because everyone will be counting their losses and will be busy with making ends meet. The United States will be occupied by the economic aftershocks of the virus and China will be busy pursuing its upward development, and thus we should find our way to the end of this tunnel. Arabs should learn that the world after COVID 19 will have a variety of options, they should find the right connection to keep them away from international polarisation.
Arabs should learn how to keep their environment and resources safe for the coming generations. People all over the globe will certainly be working hard to peacefully settle their differences and Arabs should not be an exception. Arabs have the means and history of great civilisations that put them in a better place and to even become the fifth conglomerate on the international arena.