Since the second half of the 20th century, the Middle East has been trapped in a vicious cycle of war, the likes of which it had never seen at any point in history. Arab-Israeli Conflicts, Iran-Iraq War, the Civil Wars of Jordan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, the Egyptian Revolutions, Shiite-Sunni conflicts, and the minority genocides have all engulfed and inflamed the oldest regions known on the earth. More than 10 million Muslims perished in these seemingly endless wars while millions of others were left permanently disabled and millennia-old cities were destroyed. Mosques, schools, hospitals, factories were razed to the ground.
The most technologically advanced armies of the world employed their most powerful war machines upon these lands. American F-22 and F-15’s, Russian MIG-29 and SU-24 war planes, American Nimitz class and Russian TAVKR class aircraft carriers, Tomahawk and Cruise missiles, Russian S-400 missile systems, state-of-the-art tanks, light infantry weapons, heavy machine guns, bomber aircrafts, mustard gases, chemical weapons all had a helping hand in carrying out the most horrible massacres these lands had ever seen. These multi-billion dollar killing machines escalated the economic cost of the wars to astronomical amounts. Specifically the first period of the 21st century will go down in history as a dark period during which trillions of dollars were wasted on war.
In a state of panic caused by the September 11th terrorist attacks, the US administration first invaded Afghanistan, which was followed by the invasion of Iraq, under the guise of "War on Terror". To convince the public of the necessity of Iraq, the US vice president at the time Chaney claimed that the cost of the operation would not exceed 100 billion Dollars. Today, many studies estimate the cost of the operations of Afghanistan and Iraq for the American public to be 6 trillion Dollars. When the indirect expenses such as the interest of the war debts and the post-war care of soldiers are added to the direct costs of war, the figures reach incredible heights.
The report published by the World Bank in 2016 revealed that 87 million Muslims were directly affected by the civil wars in 4 different countries. As a consequence of these civil wars, 80% of the population of Yemen now lives below the poverty line, 21.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian aid. And 12 million people living in Iraq and Libya are counting on foreign aid for their survival.
These wars also hold the futures of the Muslims in the region hostage. The Lebanese economy was only able to mend the devastation wrought by the civil war that lasted 20 years. It is impossible to even give an estimated time for Syria and Iraq. An India-based think tank named Strategic Foresight Group pointed out an important matter while estimating the cost of the conflicts in the Middle East. The wars that had taken place in the region had a shocking 'Opportunity Cost'. In other words, if all the material and moral resources of the Middle East wasted on wars had been used for the welfare of Muslims and the development of their countries, a profit of 12 trillion would have been made. This is the true cost of the conflicts that have been going on for 25 year since the first Gulf War.
Actually calculating the costs of wars financially is a great shame in itself. Every bomb that hits a city means children and women are about to be martyred. Every bullet that finds its target means leaving little souls fatherless, motherless and hungry out in the streets. Every massacre, every invasion stands for the millions of lives that will be wasted in pursuit of revenge. The people who lost their lives and are confined to clutches, who had to leave their homes behind and immigrated towards the unknown and who wait for their death in the refugee camps and, constitute the greatest cost of the war in the Middle East. It is impossible to justify and pay back the cost of such bloodshed, sorrow, and difficulty. These ceaseless wars in the Middle East have to come to an end. Otherwise, with every passing day, the world will become an even more dangerous place.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Gulf Times & Jefferson Corner: