Expensive Price Paid for the Conflicts and Wars in the Middle East

  • 25 January 2009

A recently published study reveals that 20 years of conflict has cost the Middle East region an astronomical US $12 trillion. The study carried out by an Indian research group, supported by the governments of many countries, shows that if conflicts in this region are not resolved, the costs would continue to rise. The study indicates that the failure to reach peace following the Madrid Conference of 1991 had an adverse impact at many levels in the region like human resources, natural resources, education, etc.

This study focused on various conflicts in the Middle East, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, the War on Iraq, the Israel-Iran tensions, and the impact of terrorism, which confirm that conflicts and wars have cost the region dearly, not only at the level of countries—in that they deprived most countries of their wealth—but losses at the individual level. These losses were also borne by aggressors like Israel. The study found that the average per capita income last year in the event of peace would have been to the tune of US $44,241, compared to the estimated average of US$23,304. At the Palestinian level, data indicates a highly tragic humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Srip, the average individual income has fallen to its lowest level since 2000, when it amounted to US $1,800, as more than a third of the Palestinian community in the Gaza Strip are living below the poverty line, as unemployment rate has risen by over 75%.

According to this study, per capita income in Iraq is expected to reach US $2,375, while this number should have reached US $9,681 had wars not occurred over the last two decades, which means that Iraqi citizen have been deprived of over three-fourth of their incomes due to wars and conflicts over the last two decades. The study also highlights the indirect cost of the conflicts like the loss in education and health, and other features related to the misery and suffering that are apparent in the annual human development reports issued by specialized organizations.

The truth of human development in most countries of the Middle East points to the enormity of the huge losses suffered by the region due to the conflicts and wars over the last two decades. Unemployment among the Arab youth hovers around the official estimate of 14%, and there are glaring shortfalls in the field of economic, educational, technological and communications fields that has revolutionized the world in the given period. Most of the countries in the region were deprived of the exponential growth the world has witnessed in the field of education and scientific research.

Statistics might not be the only indicators of what the region and its countries have sustained in conflicts, wars and tensions, but there are several other pointers that are difficult to enumerate. This fact requires introspection, self appraisal, as well as an effective strategy for achieving greater security and stability of nations that should join in the march of development, instead of sinking in the seas of chronic conflicts that overshadow the region.