Check out my new ‘Policy Watch’ with Oula Alrifai for the Washington Institute: “Syria’s Three Governments Confront the Coronavirus”

On March 22, Syrian health minister Nizar Yazigi finally acknowledged the country’s first official case of coronavirus on state television, weeks after rumors of the pandemic’s arrival there began circulating on social media. Although the patient’s country of origin was not disclosed, many Syrians already feared that the heavy Iranian and foreign Shia militia presence on their soil could pose a major public health threat given the Islamic Republic’s well-documented role in spreading the disease. As the crisis grows, each of the three administrations that control different parts of the country will be hard pressed to avoid humanitarian disasters given their lack of resources and other major challenges—especially in the tiny, overcrowded Idlib border zone, which now holds hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) with largely inadequate shelter.

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