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On Record-Breaking Heat, Security and US-MENA Relations


U.S. Army Spc. Kayla Hammonds, demonstrates to Iraqi army soldiers how to accurately gather the heat index in Baghdad, Iraq

The Cipher Brief published a commentary from us today on the recent record-breaking heat in the Middle East and North Africa, how that fits into the picture of climate and security risks in the region, and what that may mean for the US role in the Middle East and North Africa. From the article:

Instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is at its worst in recent memory. While political volatility has been something of a constant in the region for much of the past century, threats to regional security – and to the nation-state system itself (for example, powerful terrorist groups seeking to establish a transnational caliphate) – are increasing.

Common headlines include air strikes, massive refugee crises, attempted coups, and battles with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) spanning multiple countries. Another headline – the kind too often ignored by foreign policy and security analysts – is the record-breaking heat wave occurring in places such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, and Iraq, and speculation about the long-term habitability of parts of the region. Coupled with precipitation decline, increasingly severe droughts, and rising sea levels, the heat waves and the actual climate of the region cannot be separated from its political climate. If these problems aren’t addressed as a systemic whole, the region will likely not recover. The United States must take that into consideration.

The commentary accompanies a brief on climate and national security written by the Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavender, which draws on both our piece and commentary from Gavin Schmidt, Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA.

Our full article is available here.

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