Jaber Mohamed Al Shuaibi, Emirati Researcher in Geopolitical Issues

16 December 2020

We can almost say that the year 2020 is the year of Corona for the whole world, as the struggle of countries to avoid the repercussions of the pandemic and to compete to create the vaccine, in itself, will make the post-Corona world unlike the one before it. After the pandemic revealed weaknesses in the global system through rapid geopolitical shifts, global supply chains, countries’ health systems, and the future of climate change, it will rearrange the priorities of countries, and may intensify competition towards compensating strategic and economic losses after the pandemic recedes. The world is still in the stage of cautious recovery from the pandemic so far, but the crisis is still considered the main driver of foreign relations, as the burden of the Corona pandemic has added new dimensions to the national security of countries. Paradoxes emerged, including that the European Union did not support Italy during its response to the virus, which stood alone and helpless against the increasing numbers of dead and infected people. The geopolitical changes in the Middle East resulting from the confusion of the global scene during the Corona crisis, in addition to the decline in the role of the “NATO” and the United Nations in the Middle East, and the change of the US administration in 2021 in favor of the Democratic Party, may push the countries of the Middle East to conclude alternative and deeper diplomatic alliances with great powers like Russia and China. It is unlikely that the world order will be reformed in 2021 in light of continued regional interventions and competition for geopolitical interests among the great powers. The Corona shock revealed the fragility of supply chains through the increasing restrictions imposed on exports of food and medical supplies, and it moved from a few regions to almost the entire world. We mention here when rice and wheat exports from the producing countries stopped, and some governments seized medical shipments such as face masks. It is expected that those countries affected by interdependence will turn to self-reliance by increasing local supply chains and using modern technology.

With regards to health systems, we found some of them on the verge of collapse in developed countries such as Spain, Britain, America and others, due to the difficulty of providing respirators for all patients and leaving the elderly vulnerable inside the homes of the elderly without extending a helping hand to them, which indicates the fragility of health systems in the developed countries of the world. How, then, is the situation in poor countries? Therefore, it is certain that the capabilities of health systems in terms of response mechanisms to infectious diseases and an increase in medical research budgets will be reconsidered, with some countries going to support the role of the World Health Organization to unify global efforts to confront transcontinental diseases. The pandemic had a temporary positive impact on climate improvement due to shrinking economies and declining fuel consumption. However, governments have approved trillions of dollars in economic stimulus packages. These funds can be directed towards renewable energy sources. Corona has put the world at a crossroads in foreign policies, and pushed in the direction of some countries initiating smarter international relations that are more capable of managing crises. This crisis pushed the direction of joint bilateral or multilateral cooperation between states, at the expense of a global system dominated by balances of power that did not deal correctly against the pandemic.