Biological Warfare and Pandemics in the Middle East

This article is part of World War “V”: The COVID-19 Pandemic, a collection of all CNS COVID-19-related articles.

April 2, 2020

Webinar: Took place on April 2, 2020

On April 2, 2020, Dr. Chen Kane, director of the Middle East Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, joined a virtual panel hosted by the Middle East Institute, addressing the global outbreak of COVID-19 as it has unfolded in the Middle East.

In the region and elsewhere, the pandemic has highlighted the necessity for cooperation among governments, creating an opportunity to overcome geopolitical rivalries in an effort to contain the virus. Unfortunately, the damage of COVID-19 in the Middle East has been quick and massive. There is evidence of some information sharing and training exchanges between Israel and the West Bank, but there is a much greater disparity in information sharing between Israel and the rest of the Arab world. Regional cooperation efforts for containing COVID-19 can be a roadmap for an approach to counter bioterrorism and biological warfare in the region. Although experts have historically agreed that the threat of biological warfare in the region is low, advances in technology drastically reduce the cost and time of developing biological weapons. Groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have expressed an interest in acquiring biological weapons, creating a looming threat for regional security. How can regional cooperation help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus? Can momentum be built up to share information regarding the potential threat of biological weapons? What global measures should be pursued to prepare for bioweapon attacks from non-state actors?


  • Dr. Chen Kane
    Director of the Middle East Nonproliferation Program
    James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
  • Bilal Saab (Moderator)
    MEI Senior Fellow and Director
    Defense and Security Program
  • Jessica Bell
    Senior Program Officer for Global Biological Policy and Programs
    Nuclear Threat Initiative
  • Dr. Asha M. George
    Executive Director
    Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense


See Also

World War “V”: The COVID-19 PandemicWorld War “V”: The COVID-19 Pandemic
A collection of all CNS COVID-19-related articles

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