Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the whole world has been living in horror. Everyone is afraid of a global food crisis that may affect many regions of the world, since Russia and Ukraine are major sources of grain and wheat for many countries, especially our Arab countries, unfortunately. Egypt and Sudan, for example, have the most fertile agricultural lands, as they have the great River Nile; nonetheless, they import wheat from Russia and Ukraine.
It suffices to say that, if Sudan had possessed a vision and foresight, it would have been the hoped-for food basket for Arab countries.
Everyone is afraid of a famine that may strike many parts of the planet, especially Africa. The Director-General of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, recently warned of this matter. She explicitly said: “The war in Ukraine means hunger in Africa.”
The warnings were not limited to people’s livelihoods in those regions, but extended to the point that the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said that “the world will witness a storm of famines and a collapse of the global food system.”
In case the global food system collapses, it will surely lead to humanitarian catastrophes, unrest and political turmoil that may reach the extent of chaos and destruction.
Unfortunately, we are waiting for this disaster in our Arab region, while we are idle, without doing anything. We are waiting for the solution from heaven, although the sky does not rain gold or silver!Kuwait Minister of Commerce, Fahd Al-Shariaan, expected a crazy surge in prices during the upcoming period as a result of the unprecedented developments in the world. He said: “The situation in the world and in our region is very serious; we expect a famine to occur. The vessels that are loaded with wheat, grain and seeds and bound for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are diverted in the middle of sea to head towards Europe.”
So, piracy and theft operations in the middle of the sea have begun.
“The sources of raw materials export ban, with fifty per cent of the world’s products are prevented from export, we may experience a critical stage if we are not ready, and if we do not prepare ourselves for such a situation,” Al-Shariaan added.
This is the situation in the rich Gulf States. They fear an increase in prices, food shortage and disappearance of commodities, then how will the situation be in the rest of the poor Arab countries that cannot secure bread, such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and others?
About a week ago, the French magazine “Le Point” sounded the alarm to the Arabs. It asked: “Will the war in Ukraine cause a new Arab Spring? It then answered in the same article that “the seeds of anger that caused the eruption of Arab Spring in 2011 are still present. It added that the shortage of basic materials in the Middle East and North Africa, due to the consequences of the Russian war on Ukraine makes many whisper of the hypothesis of a “second version” of the Arab Spring, the spark of which will be due to food shortages that autocratic regimes in the region cannot control. The magazine stated that both Ukraine and Russia represent a third of global exports of wheat, barley, sunflower, ammonia and urea, which is actually considered a “food weapon” with destructive effects resembling the effects of nuclear weapons.
“Le Point” stated that countries such as Egypt, Algeria and Libya depend on both, the two sides of the ongoing conflict, to secure half of their wheat imports, which is considered as an addiction by this region, which hosts 4 per cent of the world’s population, while their needs reach 35 per cent of global grain imports. This constitutes a “hell equation” that has been unresolved for more than fifteen years. The worst, according to the newspaper, is that the expected shortage in 2022 threatens to convert to a food nightmare in 2023, where Ukraine is unlikely to be able to harvest during spring, since men went to the front lines, and women fled from the Russian bombs. Ukraine may not even plant in the next season.
“Le Point” concludes that the seeds of anger in the Maghreb region in 2022 are still the same as they were during the Arab Spring revolutions in January 2011. Whereas the fires of anger in the region have been badly extinguished, the flames still continue due to the obvious failure of autocratic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Sudan.
The Russian-Ukrainian war has revealed the truth of the autocratic Arab regimes that give priority to ensure the security of their rule with oppressive practices, and do not guarantee the food of their people. Indeed, it is true that “destruction is the end of a nation that eats what it does not sow, and wears of what it does not weave.”
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.