I doubt if the cruel story of Middle Eastern contagion counts for much in the White House, or among the Sunni monarchs of the Gulf. But its spread is of a speed that past generations in the Middle East would understand
By Robert Fisk
When the very first coronavirus reports emerged, I had a suspicion that Iran would be a target of the world’s anger. The spread of Covid-19 to the Middle East was as inevitable as history because the Muslim pilgrim routes have always acted as a channel for pestilence. But however honest or dishonest Iran’s response to the virus has been, contemporary hatred for Shia Islam in Sunni Muslim lands and the anti-Iranian bias of the western world was going to turn poor old Persia into a plague pariah.
A virus that clearly had its origins in China is now supposedly turning Iran into a menace to us all. The New York Times announced that it was emerging “as a worldwide threat”, spreading the coronavirus “to a host of neighbouring countries”. The Jerusalem Post declared that Iran had “now set the Middle East ablaze with fears of coronavirus”. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Washington was “deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country.”