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Deglobalization and Terrorism: The Case of the Muslim Countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria)

Experts Estrada, Park, Khan, and Tahir offer a new model to study the impact of terrorism on the Deglobalization process of any Muslim country in the world.


This research will present a new model on the study the impact of terrorism on the Deglobalization process through the evaluation of the faster poverty expansion, largest flows of refugees, expansion of trade closeness (several reductions of exports and imports simultaneously), and last but not least, the dramatic expansion of the economic desgrowth. This new model is entitled "The Deglobalization Global Evaluation Model (DGE-Model)". The objective of the DGE-Model is to offer policy-makers and researchers a new analytical tool to study the impact of terrorism on the Deglobalization process of any Muslim country. The DGE-Model application is not limited to the study of a special group of Muslim countries or regions. It is not constrained by issues about the region or the development stages of any Muslim country. DGE-Model, in effect, is a simple and flexible scheme. Finally, this research shows the results obtained in the application of DGE-Model in different Muslim countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The period of study is from 1999 to 2018 and the reason to select this short period is to observe the accelerated Deglobalization process in these three Muslim countries respectively.

1. Introduction

Initially, this research paper is interested to evaluate different issues related to Deglobalization, terrorism, refugees, poverty, inflation, and unemployment. According to the 2017 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report evaluates that five nations Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, and Pakistan represent 75% of all the fatalities from terrorism. The war in Afghanistan started in 1979 with the assault of Soviet Union. In the Afghan war the United States of America (USA) and Pakistan were allies against Russia. Subsequently, the war generated interior clash among various groups to control the Kabul government. Taliban, the Islamic group, had the control of most parts of Afghanistan in the year 1996 and made their legislature. The terrorism activities got momentum in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attack. Osama Bini Laden, the Al-Qaeda pioneer was considered as the driving force of those terrorist attacks. With the assault on Afghanistan by US, the Taliban government was toppled. Taliban started guerrilla war against the NATO forces. As per GTI report, there were 440 cities which were targeted by the terrorist groups in the year 2013. The number of terrorist attacks increased by 10% in the year 2013 from 2012. In the year 2016, Afghanistan witnessed the second highest number of deaths from terrorism. Furthermore, Taliban were responsible for 94% of deaths due to terrorism. Just in 252 terrorist attacks, 1217 individuals were killed in the year 2016.

Similarly, in the case of Syria, the terrorism started with the civil war in 2011. Just in the year 2012, the total number of terrorist attacks recorded was 136, which killed 600 people. Likewise, in the year 2013, the approximate number of attacks was increased from 136 to 217 and more than 1000 people were killed. There are fourteen terrorist groups in Syria that are engaged in terrorist activities. Among these terrorist groups, ISIS is the highest emerged terrorist group. So far, due to terrorism and civil war, about 18, 0000 to 26, 0000 individuals have lost their lives and over 35% of the individuals have migrated. Among these terrorist groups, the Sunni and Al-Qa’ida linked terrorist group Al-Nusra Front was accountable for more than 40% of fatalities in Syria in the year 2013. The common types of terrorist attacks included bombing and explosion, which accounted for more than 70% of the total terrorist attacks. The GTI report (2014) stated that in the year 2013, 57 cities were under attack by different terrorist groups. The highest number of terrorist attacks have been observed in the capital city of the country Damascus, where more than 42% of the total terrorist attacks have been calculated. Moreover, the number of terrorist groups have increased as the war continues. In 2015 the active terrorist groups in Syria were 17, while in 2016 the number of terrorist groups raised to 23. The total number of deaths were more than 220,000.

Likewise, in the case of Iraq, the terrorist activities started in the year 2003. There was drastic increase in fatalities by 162% in the year 2012. The Stanford University has reported that there are 19 different terrorist groups in Iraq. Among these terrorist groups, ISIS is the more fatal terrorist group and was involved in 77% of terrorist attacks in Iraq. Additionally, in the year 2013 around 4660 individuals were killed by unknown types of terrorism. Deaths due to suicide terrorist attacks were 27% of total deaths due to terrorism in the case of Iraq. The total number of suicide attacks recorded in Iraq was 232, which was the highest number among all the countries in the world. The death rate per terrorist attack was three times more than in the whole world since 2000. The GTI report further explained that the average number of fatalities and injuries per suicide terrorist attack in the case of Iraq was 10 and 18 respectively (Khan, 2017, Ruiz Estrada,, 2017a & 2017b). The highest number of terrorist activities have been seen in the areas of Baghdad, Karbala, and Mosul (GTI, 2014). According to the United Nations (UN), terrorist attacks, armed conflict and violence with terrorist group ISIS in 2017 killed more than 3,000 civilians and injured more than 4,600 (United States Department Report, 2018).

Afghanistan is one of the largest refugees producing economy. According to the UNHCR report, there are almost 2.5 million listed refugees from Afghanistan. A total of 6 million Afghan refugees are accommodated in Pakistan and Iran. Moreover, around 95% of the total refugees are placed in Iran and Pakistan. In 2014, approx. 7.6 million Syrian people was compelled to leave the country. As indicated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report 2016, 4 million Syrian refugees have been counted who are not only displaced internally, but also shifted in neighboring countries of Syria such as Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. Moreover, more than 12.2 million Syrian people require emergency aid. among the migrants, 5.6 million were kids. In the year 2017, around 6.6 million people have been displaced from their home towns and they remain settled in other parts of the country. The number of refugees was greatly increased as around 1.8 million people were newly displaced in the year 2017. Moreover, 6,550 effected citizens continue to evacuate their home per day. They live in very miserable conditions, as the settled areas are too much crowded and the facilities are none.

Similarly, in the case of Iraq, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the external refugee has surpassed over 2 million and the internally displaced people within Iraq were estimated 1.7 million by the year 2007.By the year 2014, More than 3 million Iraqis have been internally displaced and over 260,000 refugees are settled in other economies. It is further reported that around 11 million Iraq refugees currently need emergency aid. In Kurdistan Region of Iraq, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced, where one-fourth of this population are refugees or migrated internally (UNHCR, 2018).

However, the same research paper found that Muslim countries in particular share some common characteristics such as the presence of extreme poverty levels, high inflation, severe income inequality and declining wages. These characteristics not only adversely influence economic growth and development but also cause various socio-economic problems including crimes, ill-health, conflicts, and terrorism among others. The World Bank report of (2015) highlighted that income inequality has been increased in the republic of Afghanistan as the poorest 20% of the population got 2 % decline in per person expenditure while the richer 20% segment of the Society experienced an increase of 9 % during 2011-12. Similarly, in the economy of Syria, the bottom 20 % population has consumed merely 7 % while the top 20 % population consumed about 45 % (Abu-Ismail et al, 2011). Moreover, in the economy of Iraq, differences in living standards are not quite significant as measured by the Gini coefficient as identified by Sassoon (2012). Income equality adversely affects the condition of population living below the poverty line and hence they would be forced to involve in illegal activities including crimes and terrorism as the reward of such activities is higher apparently.

Extreme poverty also remained present in Muslim countries in recent times as evident from the literature. Sassoon (2012) focused on the economy of Iraq and pointed out that the 23 % population residing in Iraq is poor. The situation of poverty in Syria is observed even to be worse than Iraq. According to Abu-Ismail et al. (2011), 33.6% of the population is poor in Syria. Moreover, the evil of poverty also remained present in the republic of Afghanistan despite the satisfactory economic growth (World Bank, 2015). As a consequence, living conditions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are continually worsening. Poverty has multiple adverse consequences including ill-health, hunger.

Inflation rate has also been remained on the higher side in Muslim countries. Sassoon (2012) demonstrated that both Iraq and Syria have been suffered from rising prices in recent past. Further, the author pointed out that the Syrian pound depreciated significantly and dropped from 45 to the US $ down to 70. On the other hand, the republic of Afghanistan has controlled inflation in recent years as evident from literature. Moderate inflation although may be good for a growing economy as it acts like a signal for producer to produce more. However, in countries where huge percentage of population is living below the poverty line, inflation would further enhance their sufferings. It is an undeniable fact that inflation affects the poor segment of the population more severely as compared to the rich segment of the society.

Muslim countries in general suffer from higher population growth rates. Higher population growth coupled with poor and unsatisfied economic growth destabilizes the labor market. As a result, wages tends to decline and unemployment increases. It is inferred from the literature that current wages and salaries are indeed very low in the republic of Afghanistan and they are the main reason behind higher corruption (see e.g, Singh, 2015). In the case of Syria, Nasser et al. (2013) mentioned that only nominal wages increased slightly during the period 2001-10 while real wages are observed to be declining. Moreover, the IAU report of 2009 highlighted contending issues associated with the labor market of the economy of Iraq and reported that 18% population is unemployed. The report further demonstrated that low wages have put households vulnerable to poverty. Low wages lead to corruption and poverty as discussed by Singh (2015). Unemployment, low wages and increased corruption could explain why Syria and Iraq could not perform well economically despite the fact that they are rich in natural resources.

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University of Malaya: Social Security Research Centre (SSRC)

Asian Development Bank - Economic Research

University of Malaya (UM) - Faculty of Economics & Administration (FEA)

Comsats Institute of Information Technology

Suggested Citation:

Ruiz Estrada, Mario Arturo and Park, Donghyun and Khan, Alam and Tahir, Muhammad, Deglobalization and Terrorism: The Case of the Muslim Countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria) (November 27, 2018). Available at SSRN: or


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