Islamic State, Ebola’s Common Ally: Weak Crisis Response Mechanisms

Islamic State, Ebola’s Common Ally: Weak Crisis Response Mechanisms
A man walks past a billboard warning people of the deadly Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, Oct. 10, 2014 (AP photo by Abbas Dulleh).

Across Africa and the Middle East, governments and international organizations are paying the price for responding to crises too late. Last week, the continuing spread of Ebola in West Africa vied for global attention with new advances and atrocities in Syria and Iraq by the so-called Islamic State (IS). These were arguably both avoidable disasters.

A more determined international medical effort to contain Ebola when it appeared in Liberia and Sierra Leone at the start of this year would almost certainly have stemmed the epidemic. Earlier Western and Arab military action against IS, perhaps paired with a nasty but necessary deal with the Syrian regime to fight this common foe, might have stopped or slowed its power-grab in Iraq this summer.

There have been “blame games” over both situations. Doctors Without Borders, the NGO that initially raised the alarm about Ebola, has accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of acting too slowly. WHO officials have blamed any shortcomings in the organization’s intervention on years of budget cuts by national governments. President Barack Obama has, meanwhile, engaged in an unedifying spat with U.S. intelligence agencies over their failure to recognize the dangers posed by IS. His critics naturally say he himself is to blame.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.