Record-Breaking Heat

By Caitlin Werrell

Caitlin Werrell, along with Francesco Femia, is Co-Founder and President of the Center for Climate and Security, a DC-based think tank with an Advisory Board of senior retired military and national security leaders.

By Francesco Femia

Francesco Femia, along with Caitlin Werrell, is Co-Founder and President of the Center for Climate and Security, a DC-based think tank with an Advisory Board of senior retired military and national security leaders.

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.

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