But in other ways, some of the region’s countries have prospered immensely as the fighting rages on, adding hundreds of billions of dollars to their coffers.
Here are four ways the Ukraine war has affected the Middle East over the last six months:
Energy exporters are cashing in
Strongmen feel emboldened
Regional strongmen that once came under harsh criticism from the West appear to be back in favor.
The war has also allowed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to position himself as an indispensable figure in the international order. Faced with a sinking economy at home and elections next year, he has skillfully used his country’s geopolitical position to extract concessions for Turkey abroad by delaying the accession of Nordic countries to NATO. Erdogan has also maintained cordial relations with Russia while publicly opposing the war, selling coveted drones to Ukraine and even mediating between the belligerents.
Alliances are shifting
Food and inflation crises raise tensions
The first ship carrying grain left Ukraine on August 1 and was initially bound for Lebanon. The shipment however changed course after Lebanese buyers refused the delivery, so it sailed to Egypt instead, according to Reuters.
US airstrikes hit Iran-backed groups in Syria
The US military conducted airstrikes Tuesday targeting Iran-backed groups in Syria’s Deir Ezzor, US Central Command said in a statement. The strikes targeted “infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” No one was killed in the attack, according to an initial assessment by the US military, but a Syrian activist group said at least 10 people were killed and three were wounded.
- Background: American troops have been present in Syria since 2015 to combat the Islamic State, which has often brought them into conflict with Iran-backed groups. Israeli airstrikes targeted the warehouses at the same location in January 2021, according to Syria’s state news agency. The attack comes amid reports of indirect talks on reviving the nuclear deal between Iran and the US reaching an advanced stage.
- Why it matters: As talks advance, the US may be sending a message that even though it is working on reaching an agreement with Iran, it will continue to target Iran-backed groups in the region. Washington has refused to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of terrorist organizations, which Tehran had previously demanded.
Turkey says it has no preconditions for dialogue with Syria
In a softening of its stance, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara has no preconditions for dialogue with Syria but any talks should focus on security on their border.
- Background: Turkey cut ties with Damascus 10 years ago in response to the uprising in Syria and backed rebels fighting to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime. But Turkey has in recent years maintained contact with the regime, directly through intelligence channels and indirectly through the Astana Group process, which aims to solve the Syrian civil war.
- Why it matters: Turkish President Erdogan has indicated that he wants to launch yet another military incursion into northeastern Syria. Over decades of tension, Turkey has already launched three military operations against Kurdish fighters in Syria’s north, the latest of which was in 2019. Asked about prospects for talks, Cavusoglu said they would need to have specific goals. “No conditions for dialogue, but what is the aim, the target? It needs to be goal-oriented,” he said.
Beirut port silo collapses two years after fatal blast
The northern wheat silo damaged after the deadly Beirut port blast in 2020 collapsed on Tuesday, state-run NNA reported. A large dust cloud was sent into adjacent areas of the port after the implosion as smoke from fires continued rising from the debris.
- Background: On August 4, 2020, hundreds of metric tons of ammonium nitrate ignited, sparking a massive blast in the Lebanese capital’s port, killing more than 215 people and injuring thousands. The silos had been on fire since then. Over the past month, segments of the silos were gradually collapsing as the army continued cordoning off the area.
- Why it matters: The silos had become a symbol of dysfunction in Lebanon. Earlier this year the government rolled out a plan to demolish them. Civil society groups, who saw the silo as a memorial to the blast, reacted with outrage, and the plan was scrapped.
What to watch
Water shortages have turned the lush green marshlands of Iraq into a desolate desert. Watch Jomana Karadsheh’s report on the effect of climate change in the country.
Twitter users in Lebanon are marking 40 years since Bashir Gemayel was elected President by the country’s parliament. He was assassinated before taking office in 1982.
A deeply divisive figure in Lebanon’s history, Gemayel founded and led the Lebanese Forces, the military wing of the Christian Phalange party that continues to play a role in the nation’s politics today. He was supported by many Lebanese Christians but considered a traitor by others for his cooperation with Israel, which invaded Lebanon in a 1982 war.
In October 2017, Habib al-Shartouni, a member of Lebanon’s Syrian Social Nationalist Party, was found guilty in absentia by a Lebanese court for planting the bomb that killed Gemayel.
Omanis have turned to Twitter to complain about not being able to access the popular social media platform Discord.
With over 150 million active monthly users, Discord plays a big role in the lives of gamers as it serves as a chat room for private games as well as those streaming their games.
Discord also grew to become a significant element in the utility function of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are growing in popularity around the Gulf states.
Saudi Arabia: #How_many_wives_would_you_take
While one user said marriage is not a “priority” for him, while another lamented that he could hardly attend to one wife. One user tweeted a photo with the number three.
Islam allows me to take up to four wives. While the practice isn’t widely adopted in the Muslim world, it isn’t uncommon either. Women can only take one husband.
Photo of the day