Information and news about terrorism

Foreign Aid to AfghanistanAfghanistan has been plagued by war since the Soviet Military Intervention of the 1970s during the Cold War era. The 16-year civil war has impacted the foreign policies of many countries over the years. The fight between the Taliban insurgency and international collation forces has resulted in mass displacement, poverty, discrimination, human rights violations and destitution.

Despite the precarious stalemate reached, there were still an aggregate 3,500 civilian casualties last year, with insuperable pressure on humanitarian agencies and aid workers. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 296,000 individuals have been internally displaced since January 2017.

Foreign aid encompasses emergency assistance, food aid, military assistance and humanitarian and development aid. Consequently, foreign aid continues to be a vital question in solving the “Afghanistan Problem”, as it has been called. Even though foreign aid to Afghanistan has been quite successful over the years, with over 2.2 million individuals reached in the last quarter of 2017 alone, it is becoming a concern for stakeholder groups, organizations and countries involved. Phantom aid is an especially significant issue in Afghanistan, as it never reaches the correct source and fails to address poverty and other associated problems.

Even though Afghanistan’s GDP has been averaging around 3.6 percent annually since 2002 and the economy is showing progress, terrorism still remains one of the most pressing issues in the country. There are many splintered terrorist groups still existing in the country. For instance, the Haqqani Terrorist Network remains one the most hostile wings of the Taliban. Terrorist groups are blocking lines of communication in Afghanistan and further destabilizing the country. Army camps and soldier are imperiled by the threat of terrorism in the country. Owing to the recent surge in violence, the Red Cross is temporarily suspending its aid operations to protect aid workers and civilians.

However, many countries are coming forward to provide foreign aid to Afghanistan. China is coming close to matching the U.S. budget of foreign aid to Afghanistan and is one of the leading donors to the country. It is working with the World Food Programme to provide emergency food aid.

India is also a vital provider of sustainable foreign aid to Afghanistan. Since 2002, India has contributed a massive $2 billion in foreign aid to the country, both in civil and military assistance. India is also very involved in reconstruction and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. The Salma Dam has been an especially crucial development. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is aiming to cement stronger ties with India. The two countries will collaborate on solving key issues like terrorism, and working towards political and economic strategies.

Furthermore, over 116 community projects will be developed in 31 major provinces in the realms of education, healthcare, flood control, renewable energy, agriculture and sanitation. India is also providing aid to fund 300 small development projects and working to bolster its military aid to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

However, according to findings by Aiddata, aid efforts remain poor due to the lack of transparency and corruption in the provision of aid to the country and the motives of stakeholder groups involved. Existing immobilities in infrastructure and other aspects are debilitating the progress of foreign aid to Afghanistan. Improving two-way communication in communities in Afghanistan will greatly improve the provision of aid. Foreign aid to Afghanistan must be sustainable for the long-term recovery of the people and the economy, and building the resilience and capacity of governments and businesses.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

Foreign AidThe September 11 terrorist attack resulted in the construction of development response, the act of aiding and developing an impoverished area. The goal of this strategy is to help combat terrorism. Impoverished areas produce a vulnerable environment ideal for extremist group recruitment. The presence of foreign aid in poverty-filled areas reduces the susceptibility of men and women reaching out to extremist groups for a sense of stability.

Social marginalization and poorly governed areas increase the appeal of an extremist group. Social marginalization, the feeling of being oppressed or excluded from society, creates a need for acceptance. The absence of security may lead to residents looking for an opportunity to escape oppression or economic despair. These conditions produce breeding grounds for the recruitment of terrorists. Extremist groups symbolize a promise of social status, respect, necessary services and a sense of belonging.

Yemen and Somalia are prime examples of terrorist breeding grounds. In Yemen, about 35 percent of the population is undernourished and 55 percent lack food security due to soaring food prices. Merely 2 percent of Yemen’s gross domestic product is spent on healthcare. Unemployment has increased to 35 percent and the Sunni-Shia civil clash has heightened the terrorist capacity.

Somalia, similarly to Yemen, is lacking a central government. The war zone environment has provided a safety net for those hiding from the law, giving terrorists the ability to move freely. About 73 percent of the population lives on about $2 a day. The promise of profit from extremist groups feeds the embrace of terrorist membership. Recruiters use the incentives of food, profit and even a sign-up bonus to gain members.

These nations portray the hardships developing nations face when countering extremism. They are not equipped to stop the targeting of terrorist groups. Economic security and efforts to decrease marginalization would provide a preventive measure for global threats.

In the “Assisting International Partners to Counter Violent Extremism” report, the U.S. Department of State and USAID outline objectives for counterterrorism. These objectives include engaging in partnerships, encouraging policy and employing foreign assistance tools. The recognition that youths are more inclined to embrace extremism led to the production of institutions focusing on employing youths and preventing them from joining extremist groups.

The report details that foreign aid would be spent on building institutions and strengthening impoverished nations’ international partnership. The strategic vision behind foreign aid proves that aid is more than a loan to combat poverty. The objectives can be viewed as a tactic within the grand strategy of foreign aid.

Foreign aid provides a weapon to combat counterterrorism. This strategy provides a cheaper long-term tactic that targets one of the causes for breeding ground conditions. It serves as a preventive measure and a source of international security.

The potential foreign aid budget cuts could put American national security in jeopardy. Foreign aid serves as an investment to prevent vulnerable conditions for terrorist recruitment as well as managing the likelihood of a global threat. Developmental aid is not only a valuable tool to counter poverty, but is an effective counterterrorism strategy.

Shauna Triplett

Photo: Flickr

Facts About the LRA InsurgencyKony has become a household name all over the world, but few people know much about the organization behind the infamous man. Here are 10 facts about the LRA insurgency:

  1. Joseph Kony founded the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda as a rebel organization with a military-type hierarchy in which he acts as commander in chief in 1987.
  2. The LRA’s initial purpose was to revolt against the Ugandan government and its army, consisting of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and local defense units (LDUs).
  3. In order to increase its numbers and gain more power, the LRA abducts children and forces them to become soldiers for the LRA.
  4. The LRA operates by using fear tactics to terrorize civilians and their communities. Brutal acts committed by the LRA, such as public rapings, body mutilation and murder are intended to scare potential adversaries, increasing the LRA’s power.
  5. In 2005, the International Criminal Court issued warrants for the arrest of Joseph Kony and his fellow LRA leaders Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen.
  6. Kony has been charged with 12 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement, rape and inflicting serious bodily injury. He was also charged with 21 war crimes, including directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, inducing rape and forced enlistment of children.
  7. In 2006, the LRA ceased operations in Uganda. It continued its attacks in regions of central Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
  8. In 2012, a large social media campaign against Kony and the LRA went viral. Kony became a household name, and millions of people advocated for the arrest of Kony after watching a video urging the end of the LRA.
  9. Despite a large manhunt, Kony has still yet to be captured. All of his fellow leaders, except Otti, have been confirmed dead and had proceedings against them terminated. Otti is rumored to also be dead, following an altercation in which he was likely executed by Kony after planning to betray the LRA.
  10. Following increased global awareness and effort as well as the combined efforts of the Ugandan and American forces, the LRA’s number continue to decline and its power has decreased substantially.

These 10 facts about the LRA insurgency are only a few aspects of an organization that has displaced almost two million people and kidnapped more than 20,000 children. Thanks to global effort and government assistance, the growth of these numbers is consistently slowing.

– Jenae Atwell

Photo: U.S. Air Force

8 Facts About JordanThe political turmoil in the Middle East captures headlines around the world. Places like Syria, Iraq and Libya are mainstays in the news cycle. However, one little-known Kingdom amid this chaos has proven to be incredibly resilient and shows promise for the future. Though faced with ongoing crises and conflict in the region, 2017 was a year of positive changes in Jordan.

“I do not know of any other country in recent history that has gone through such an onslaught of crises and found itself surrounded by so many conflicts through no fault of its own,” says Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, son and heir of King Abdullah remarked at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2017. “Yet in the face of these daunting challenges, we did not back down from our ideals, or our values. We did not turn our backs on people in need.”

Jordan has been an island of stability in the Middle East even amid a wave of refugees, economic stagnation and the threat of terrorism surrounding it on all sides.

Here are 8 facts about positive changes in Jordan that give hope for the future:

1. Jordan is ranked the second freest economy in the Middle East behind the United Arab Emirates. Despite lacking the magnificent oil wealth and foreign investments of the Emirates, Jordan is ensuring that businesses are in a climate where they can grow and create jobs.

2. Jordan’s Prime Minister has made it official policy to waive all service card requirements for Syrian refugee children attending school in Jordan. This will open the doors for thousands of young Syrians who were forced to leave their country amid the violence. This greater access to education will garner huge returns on investment in the future.

3. Jordan joined a group of other Middle Eastern countries that abrogated an infamous law that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if they married their victim. This is a victory for women’s rights in the country.

4. Though overwhelmed by refugees from conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the Azraq refugee camp has recently undertaken a project to operate the camp on 100 percent renewable energy. In 2017, they finally accomplished this, becoming the only refugee camp in the world to run on solely solar-powered plants.

5. Nour Al Hassan, a native Jordanian, runs the translation company Tarjama, where over 90 percent of employees are women. Over 60 Jordanian women have been hired by the company thus far. In a region that is notorious for women’s unemployment rates, this is a positive change for the future.

6. Although one of the poorest countries in terms of water resources, Jordan is becoming a testing ground for new water-saving technologies. The Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance project looks to supply water to the southern portions of the country while simultaneously filling up the ever-shrinking Dead Sea.

7. The Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) was ranked as one of the top 500 research universities by Times Higher Education. This is the first time a Jordanian higher education institution has been named to this list.

8. Queen Raina of Jordan was awarded the Global Trailblazer Award in 2017, presented by Vital Voices Global Leadership, which recognizes the leadership of women around the world. Queen Raina is a stalwart of women’s rights, education and poverty alleviation.

These 8 facts are just a snapshot of the positive changes in Jordan. In a region where good news is difficult to come by, the advancements made by Jordan are praiseworthy and are moving the country in a positive direction in the face of unimaginable difficulties.

Daniel Cavins

Photo: Google

Education and ReintegrationSince 2015, Niger has been subject to attacks by jihadist group Boko Haram. In 2016, Niger launched a new political initiative: a de-radicalization and reintegration program based on education and participation for the captured Boko Haram fighters. This strategy, also known as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), can be effective during violent times. It is the means to achieving post-war goals and maintaining order in society.

DDR, now seen as a useful tactic to countering violent extremism, has become a political strategy, one that supports education and vocational training rather than violence and imprisonment. Rather than fighting violence with violence, the idea is to stimulate peace by instilling conventional development goals for society. Despite the de-radicalization classes and vocational training in the DDR camps, jobs are scarce and poverty is still rampant, making extremism more attractive to civilians.

Structural issues in the prison system and reintegration issues in society create more obstacles for the government in maintaining peace. Niger lacks the proper legal mechanisms or sorting criteria for prisons and the DDR program. No set standards exist for distinguishing between the detainees and escapees sent to prison or to the DDR program. Without these legal processes, the Boko Haram ex-insurgents are still legally terrorists. The U.N. excludes Niger and refuses to provide them with international assistance; the U.S. also does not grant them foreign material aid.

There is a need for supporting this method at the community level as well. Many ex-insurgents find it hard to reintegrate into a society that rejects them. People need to understand that in order to thwart the threat of extremism, it is necessary to destroy the ideology and punish those who spread it, not those who were a product of it.

This initiative has been pioneered by the southern town of Diffa. Diffa governor Mahamadou Lawaly Dan Dano has requested that the University of Diffa help build the community for those in the program. With 150 people in the program, including fighters’ wives and 28 young boys, conditions in Diffa became poor. After an escape attempt, it was relocated to a refugee camp in Goudoumaria where it can expand. They now have food, water and even a small infantry.

Despite not having schools until the 1990s, this region is now receiving 12 EU-funded vocational training centers and is set to put this into action. Another DDR program is working with this effort to release some of the 80 minors detained on both sides of the border to transit and orientation centers in Diffa.

Limiting risk through a national acceptance of the larger enemy and incentivizing peace through a collaborative systematic process are how education and reintegration could save Niger from Boko Haram.

Tucker Hallowell

Photo: Flickr

Optimism Improves PerspectiveEvery news report seems to be about a new political scandal, a terrorist attack or some natural disaster. The world feels like it is getting worse, and the uplifting stories on the news appear insignificant compared to the weight of the other issues.

These positive, hopeful stories may seem trivial, even inconsequential compared to the tragedies, death tolls and what seems to be an ever increasing attitude of fear and hatred. However, the good news about bad news is that statistically, there is less of it than ever before, and the good news continues to silently grow. Remembering the good news and maintaining optimism improves perspective when faced with bad situations.

While 2016 has been deemed a “dumpster fire of a year,” the state of the world as a whole is positive. Even with all the political drama and depressing headlines, recent years are also marked by a significant decrease in death from diseases, wars and poverty. In 1999, about 1.7 billion people lived in poverty, which was 28 percent of the population. In 2013, the number was reduced to 767 million, and that number has continued to fall so that less than 10 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty today. In just more than 15 years, the number of people in poverty has declined by almost two-thirds.

There is a great deal of other good news as well. Child mortality is falling rapidly. The number of humans who have died in wars has decreased dramatically since 1945. The so-called Islamic State is weakening and struggling with recruitment. There are significantly fewer bankruptcies. The global economy is growing, leading to the decrease in poverty mentioned above. Literacy rates are going up, and the gender gap is shrinking. The list of good news goes on and on.

There are still many things to be done to improve the world and people’s lives, but the statistics are encouraging. With this good news in mind, why do people tend to focus on the negative headlines? One possible reason is that bad news happens all at once, making it easier to focus on. It is sudden, dramatic and gripping, whereas good news usually happens slowly, working quietly while disasters occupy the public consciousness.

There is also a tendency for people to weigh bad news more heavily than good news. In other words, negative emotions and events feel as though they have more of an effect than positive or neutral emotions and events. Good news seems feeble and meaningless compared to the negative feelings that come with bad news of all sorts. Psychologists call this a negativity bias. Just as optimism improves perspective, this negative, pessimistic attitude can cause a great deal of stress, anxiety and other health issues.

This focus on the negative may have been an evolutionary advantage in the past. As human ancestors fought for survival, bad news in the form of dangers and threats were the focus. Good news was welcome, but it was hardly a priority compared to threatening animals or diseases. These remnants of humanity’s past remain today, and negative events take priority.

Bad news could act as a sort of warning against worse news in the future. It could be an indication that people or societies need to change to avoid further negative events. It is important to draw attention to what is broken in the world so that people can begin to fix it.

Though bad news can be good in the long run, the obsession with bad news is still something to address. Optimism improves perspective, and it has many positive effects. For example, a more optimistic attitude is linked to a longer, more fulfilled life. A positive outlook also decreases stress and helps people cope with difficult situations and bad news.

Optimism has physical, psychological and social benefits, yet an optimistic attitude is easier said than done. Often times a pessimistic attitude can result from existing stress and anxiety, so it is not as simple a matter as suddenly deciding to become an optimist. Studies do support that, while it may not be easy, it is possible for pessimists to become more optimistic. It is likely that children and adults can both become more optimistic and benefit from a more positive attitude.

Bad news seems to be all around us, but it is important to remember the good news as well. Celebrating the victories is just as important as realizing the difficulties that still lay ahead. Everything will not always work out for the better, but optimism improves perspective, especially in depressing and dark situations. Even in difficult times, it is important to remember the good news so that people can continue pushing forward and fight the bad news.

– Rachael Lind

Photo: Flickr

Why Mali MattersWith no end in sight, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali is the deadliest ongoing mission, and yet the country is rarely mentioned in the news. Since 2013, when the mission named MINUSMA was launched, more than 100 peacekeepers have been murdered. Despite the paucity of media coverage, there are a number of reasons why Mali matters and cannot be ignored.

Mali is located in a strategic area. It is a large country surrounded by poorly guarded borders. Its neighboring countries have been suffering from extremism and instability and could be devastated by turmoil in Mali. If Mali fell to extremists, it could become a launchpad for attacks on the surrounding countries. In addition, Mali has critical smuggling routes that help terrorists traffic in goods and people.

Mali is extremely poor. More than half the population live below the international poverty line, living on less than $2 a day. Though people from all socioeconomic backgrounds have the potential to become terrorists, extreme poverty seems to be a strong contributing factor to radicalization. One U.N. ambassador stated that “radicalization of otherwise law-abiding, responsible individuals [is] caused by a deep sense of collective frustration, deprivation and disillusionment.” Therefore, one of the ways to combat extremism is by improving socioeconomic conditions. MINUSMA aims to do just that by supporting political reform and assisting with humanitarian relief work.

The crisis that necessitated MINUSMA was largely caused by ineffective government. In 2012, Tuareg rebels joined Islamic militants in a coup d’etat. In 2013, with the help of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine advanced south and defeated the Malian army. Former CIA director Leon Panetta stated, “We have a responsibility to make sure that al-Qaeda does not establish a base for operations in North Africa and Mali.” If peacekeeping efforts fail, Mali could become a new hotbed of extremism.

One of the reasons why Mali matters is that hundreds of thousands of people have already become refugees or been internally displaced. In a nation that was already rife with hunger and malnutrition, the crisis has further exacerbated the situation. Young children, in desperate need of food, have become targets for jihadist recruitment. If the country continues on such a trajectory, the future for the country and even the region will be grim.

The costs of keeping the peace in Mali have been high, but the costs of allowing Mali to fall apart would be even higher. Knowing this, it is clear why Mali matters.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

Counter-terrorism laws enacted by the U.S. and U.K. are proving detrimental to potential relief efforts in certain parts of Somalia.

Somalia is experiencing the worst drought in the region in 40 years, which is threatening an estimated six million people with famine.  Two million of these people are occupying areas run by al-Shabaab.

Somalia is a country in eastern Africa that has been riddled with political turmoil and instability. Al-Shabaab, or “The Youth” as is translated from Arabic, have contributed heavily to some of the issues in Somalia. They are a product of the radical youth wing of Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts (which is no longer in existence). Al-Shabaab is banned by both the U.S. and U.K. as an active terrorist group.

For the non-radical starving and dehydrated citizens of these Somalian regions, the “bans” and anti-terrorism laws affect humanitarian efforts from reaching them. Humanitarian officials say that these laws are discouraging them from sending support for fear of prosecution, as it is impossible for them to ensure that no aid gets into the hands of members of al-Shabaab. If it did, these organizations would be at risk of going to court and possibly even being shut down.

In addition to just the aid itself, the moving of said relief aid by land in Somalia involves paying “taxes” at roadblocks that are run by various armed groups — some of which are controlled by al-Shabaab, which received an estimated $180,000 per year from aid groups at these road blocks in 2010.

David Concar, the British ambassador to Somalia, said this in an interview recently about the degree at which anti-terrorism laws affect humanitarian efforts in Somalia: “[Counter terrorist] legislation is not intended to stop — and nor should it actually stop — any aid groups from working in such areas as long as they have the necessary controls in place and they’re not deliberately supporting terrorists.”

Despite this apparent clarification, the counter-terrorism laws are still very present, and anxiety among these aid organizations remains, who say need clearer guidance from the U.S. and the U.K. in regard to relief efforts in Somalia. Politically, this “guidance” is hard to execute, as it could be interpreted as negotiations with a terrorist group.

The last major famine in Somalia was in 2011. An estimated 250,000 died as, at the very least, a contributing result of these strict anti-terrorism laws, when little to no aid made it to al-Shabaab-controlled areas.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About the Afghanistan War
Following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington D.C., President George W. Bush vowed to “win the war against terrorism.” This included the launch of a U.S.-led operative in Afghanistan, with the goal of toppling the terrorist groups Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Today, going into its 16th year, the war is the longest conflict the U.S. has ever been involved in and continues to inhibit the lives of thousands of civilians. Here are 10 facts about the ongoing Afghanistan War.

  1. The current volatile situation in Afghanistan is the latest in a long history of conflicts. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 came after over 20 years of war in the country. A Soviet Invasion in 1979 prompted opposition from several militant groups, called the Mujahideen. The U.S., Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia all provided funding and arms to the Soviet opposition. These contributions stemmed from a desire to resist the Soviet spread of communism but ended up contributing to budding extremism and violence in militant groups.
  2. By 1985, half of the Afghan population was already displaced due to war and conflict with the Soviets. By 1989, the last of the Soviet troops left Afghanistan after peace accords were reached between the USSR, Pakistan, the U.S. and Afghanistan. However, the existing government quickly toppled and the country dissolved into a brutal civil war, resulting in the Taliban seizing Kabul and quickly enforcing their influence across the country.
  3. President George W. Bush signed a joint resolution into law on September 18, 2001, authorizing the use of force against those responsible for the September 11 attacks. The resolution was later cited as justification by the Bush administration for decisions such as the invasion of Afghanistan, eavesdropping on American citizens with the absence of a court order, and the operation of a detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.
  4. The movement in Afghanistan began covertly by the CIA on September 26, 2001. Just 15 days after the attacks in the U.S., the CIA backed Northern Alliance Liaison Team – codenamed JAWBREAKER – and was on the ground and operating in Afghanistan, thus officially beginning the Afghanistan War.
  5. The British invaded Afghanistan alongside the U.S. In October of 2001, the U.S. and British militaries began a bombing campaign against the forces of the Taliban. Other countries, like Canada, France, Australia and Germany pledged future support at the time the bombing began.
  6. On November 14, 2001, after the fall of the Taliban in Kabul, the UN Security council passed Resolution 1378, which called for the participation of the United Nations in forming a transitional administration and facilitating the growth and spread of stability. In December, several leaders from major factions in Afghanistan traveled to a U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany. The factions signed and an interim government was decided upon.
  7. Since the beginning of the conflict, more than four dozen countries have contributed troops to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
  8. In April 2002, President Bush promised: “By helping to build an Afghanistan that is free from evil and is a better place to live, we are working in the best traditions of George Marshall.” The statement was meant to invoke reconstructions similar to that of post-World War II. Soon afterward, the U.S. Congress appropriated over $38 billion in reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2009.
  9. In 2011, President Barack Obama pledged the gradual exit of American troops from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, due to continuously escalated situations with the Taliban, 8,400 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through 2017. “We have to deal with the realities of the world,” says President Obama.
  10. As of 2015, the U.S. committed over $685 billion to funding the war in Afghanistan. Along with the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War has been the most expensive in U.S. history.

Stability in Afghanistan has made significant strides in the past several decades. The country’s GDP grew an average of 9.4% per year from 2003 to 2012. Life expectancy in the country has increased by nearly 20 years in the past decade. In 2002, less than a million children were enrolled in school, while now the number surpasses eight million. When the U.S. first invaded the country, only six percent of citizens had access to reliable electricity, while the number now reaches more than 28 percent.

Despite the country’s advances, basic amenities such as infrastructure and access to healthcare and education are still severely lacking. The length of the Afghanistan War and U.S. airstrikes, drone presence and ground troops have devastated the country’s ability to develop independently, and the Taliban continues to terrorize much of the country, causing thousands of Afghan refugees to continue to flee persecution.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

Ten Facts About the Iraq War
The Iraq War, also known as the Third Gulf War, began on March 20th, 2003. Causes of the war are the Global War on Terrorism in response to the attacks on September 11th, the intention to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and the intention to arrest Saddam Hussein and then abolish his regime.

Here are 10 facts about the Iraq War:

  1. The Domino Effect: Iraq has the world’s second largest reserves of oil, which makes it a very influential country in the middle east. President Bush hoped that toppling Hussein’s government would catalyze change for the surrounding countries.
  2. Iraqi Casualties: According to a 2011 Iraq Body Count, between 103,013 and 112,571 Iraqi civilians died in the violence.
  3. American Casualties: Four thousand four hundred and eighty-three American soldiers were killed and 33,183 were wounded.
  4. Journalist Death Toll: One hundred and fifty reporters and 54 media support workers were killed throughout the course of the war, the majority of which were deliberately targeted. This is higher than any other wartime death toll for journalists on record.
  5. Bloody Period: March 2003 was a period of invasion that resulted in the highest number of deaths for Iraqis. According to IBC, 3,977 were killed in March and another 3,437 were killed in April.
  6. IDPs: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that as many as 1.6 million Iraqis, or 5.5 percent of the population, were internally displaced. This means that they were forced to leave their homes but remained within their countries.
  7. Money Lost: The Iraq War cost the U.S treasury 1 trillion dollars, excluding benefits and long-term care for the wounded. Taxpayers collectively spent 1 trillion dollars — $3,200 per citizen — on the war between 2003 to 2011.
  8. Debt to Veterans: $490 billion of war benefits were owed to veterans following the war.
  9. Debt to Iraq: The U.S owed Iraq 4 billion dollars before the invasion and 7 billion dollars after.
  10. State of U.S soldiers after the Iraq war: Twenty percent of wounded U.S soldiers had serious brain or spinal injuries. Thirty percent of soldiers developed serious mental health problems within four months of returning home.

Both the U.S and Iraq suffered severe financial and human life losses by the time the war officially ended in December 2011. Although Saddam Hussein’s government was officially overturned, no weapons of mass destruction were found. Nevertheless, the war has made lasting impacts on U.S. and Iraqi relations for years to come.

Liliana Rehorn

Photo: Flickr