How can terrorism in the Middle East affect global security?

How can terrorism in the Middle East affect global security?

PEJOURNAL – Contemporary security issues in Middle East, mostly arose from terrorism and its effects on this region, is going to become a global security dilemma, mostly through terrorists that are going back to their home countries under the refugees cover. this point of view together with the possible effects of terrorism on global energy security has been discussed here.

Concept of Terrorism

Terrorism is an ambiguous concept that has been argued to mean different things. However, the arguments of different scholars may help form a basis to describe the concept of terrorism. Following the events of the September 11, 2001 attacks, former President George Bush declared that the “War on Terror” was the number one priority of the United States.

This “war” went ahead to eventually change the nature of their domestic, national and international policies. It was recorded also that President Bush used the terms “terror”, “terrorism” and “terrorist” thirty two times without ever defining what it meant (a source would have been useful here) Best and Nocella however try to define the term as they regarded the word to be abused by all as it was “applied to actions ranging from flying fully loaded passenger planes to rescuing pigs and chickens from factory farms”.

They posited that, “all terrorism involves violence, but not all violence is terrorism” and defined terrorism in the body of the work as “…the institutional use of physical violence directed against innocent persons – human and/or inhuman animals – to advance the religious, ideological, political, or economic purposes of an individual, organization, or state government”.

Concept of Security

Concept of Security Baldwin defines security as “low probability damage to acquired values”. His conceptualization of security is encompassing as it does not border only on the „presence and absence of threats‟, but also on the preservation of acquired values. This definition explains why the concept of preservation of acquired values is what changes the nature of security threats that range from country to country; and how the various countries react to these threats.

A much clearer definition of security has been given by Buzan to mean “…the pursuit of freedom from threat and the ability of states and societies to maintain their independent identity and their functional integrity against forces of change, which they see as hostile”. His definition is more detailed as it breaks down the nature of „value‟ as Baldwin put it and emphasized the maintenance of „functional integrity against forces of change‟.

This definition is also particularly peculiar as it emphasizes the perception that states reject all forms of terrorism because it tampers with their functional integrity through unacceptable forces of change. In recent scholarship however, the concept of security has widened in scope and form. According to Nwolise, security in contemporary usage has expanded horizontally and vertically. He posited that horizontally, security has gone beyond the military to encompass economic, political, environmental, social and other aspects.

He stressed that vertically, security has gone beyond the state to incorporate and emphasise the individual, social groups, (ethnic, religious, professional), the state, and humanity at large. Thus, there is a dramatic shift in the concept of global security, to human security.

International Terrorism and the Middle East

 The events of the September 11, 2001 magnified the Middle East in global politics because the terrorist attacks were perpetrated by a group that emerged from the region known as the Al-Qaeda, who’s root can be trace back to the west. Traditionally, threats to global peace and security ensued from wars and crises among regional states which thereby engaged the international system.

Presently, threats to global security are considered in the context of global terrorism. The aftermath of September 11, 2001 has introduced a new approach to dealing with terrorism, since global terrorism is argued to emanate from the Middle East, it is important to examine the correlation between the Middle East Region and the international terrorism issues. As opposed to Barzegar (2005) who is of the opinion that terrorism stems from the Middle East, has a different view on the issue.

He averred that even if security is to be redefined to include the general threat of terrorism, post9/11 does not necessarily reveal a new security landscape for the Middle East, in the sense that terrorism threat has been part of the regional security situation for decades. This notion of his seems not too convincing because Shuhghart (2005) in his work made reference to the rise of Islamic terrorism dating back to the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

The revolution was unexpected and led to the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran. But it shouldn’t be easily forgotten that every nation in one time or the other in face of history has fought for its liberty; the question should be why the creation of terrorism in the Middle East.

 There is no doubt that the Middle East processes two/ third of the world needed resources which is mostly energy, so much concentration and adsorption of many of the world’s hydrocarbons in the Middle East is an important factor in creating a skid of economic national and security problems that will affect its region and the world in general. The region which has been influenced in deepening in ethnic and political tensions, terrorism, corruption and tyranny created by western political power.

In the face of all these catastrophes which seem to be problems that have no solution, is undoubtedly going to directly affect energy supply from the Middle East, in addition to insecurity, lack of investment, unresolved border disputes, and increasing uncertainty political instability to the major energy producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. These problems are likely to increase the demand for oil intensity. Terrorism in the region is a problem that is undoubtedly affecting not only the world economy and security, but also the attitudes and policies-making of nations towards the producers of the region, as well as towards each other.

The only way consumers nations can assess the impact on the region is to put their collective weight together to bring OPEC together by turning to other options, while the cartel must adopt appropriate security policies to Adopt lower oil prices and to create a helping solution, which is really affecting the world because of terrorism.

On this regard; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, testify before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 5, 2006; “We do have to do something about the energy problem. I can tell you that nothing has really taken me aback more, as Secretary of State, than the way that the politics of energy is ‘warping’ diplomacy around the world. It has given extraordinary power to some states that are using that power in not very good ways for the international system, states that would otherwise have very little power.”

During the nineteenth century, almost half of the world’s crude oil came from the turbulent oil fields around Azerbaijan and Baku. At that time, oil supplied only 4% of the world’s energy and had few strategic benefits for the Caspian region internationally. But with the onset of the global economic downturn, oil dependence grew dramatically.

Today, oil supplies about 40% of the world’s energy and 95% of its transportation energy. As a result, those who own the greater share of this golden energy source are in the driving seat of the world economy, and their influence is constantly increasing. Since the 1930s, the Middle East has emerged as the world’s most important source of energy and the key to global economic stability.

Now days, the bustling region produces 37 percent of the world’s oil and 18 percent of its gas. When it comes to reserves, the Persian Gulf is king. It has 65% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 45% of its natural gas reserves. The Middle East also controls a significant portion of undiscovered hydrocarbons. According to the US Geological Survey, more than 50% of the region’s oil reserves have been discovered and 30% of the region’s gas is concentrated in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the UAE and Libya.

Terrorism is a complex issue that does not allow for easy, intellectual or political solution. In fact, no issue in the international relations means so much important and also complicating and confusing in resolving. However, this has been a major US foreign policy issue since September 2001, as foreign policy debates have spread to Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, and elsewhere because it is easy to destroy than to fix.

Terrorism is not an issue specific to the “Middle East” but it has created more attention because of its global geographical benefits. Historically, continent like Europe has been a global leader in political violence, developing modern industrial warfare, and has played a key role in creating specific tools for modern political action and control, genocide, systematic government torture, and terrorism.

Today, Europeans have a right to feel that their own lives, their peace of mind, their flawed liberal and democratic values ​​are in great danger and will continue to be so for years to come. The Age of Innocence – born five decades after the rise of the European Union and the end of the Cold War in 1991 – ended on September 11, 2001 or March 11, 2004.

But it should not be forgotten that it was Europe that introduce to the world the use of political violence, and terrorism which is resulting fear and global concerns. One can understand why many politicians in Spain and beyond speak of the Madrid attacks as an attack on European values, the day after the Madrid bombings, the European Parliament passed a resolution for “Europe Day against Terrorism”. But these are partial and wrong response is that the Europeans are also responsible for such phenomena together with US.

The dependent of many of the world’s hydrocarbons in this geographical location means that as long as the modern economy is dependent on oil and natural gas, the Middle East will play a key role in world politics and economics oi. As it is, most countries in the world are heavily dependent on Persian Gulf l. In 2006, the Middle East imported 22% of US imports, 36% of European OECD, 40% of China, 60% of India and 80% of Japan and South Korea. Even oil-rich Canada is dependent on the Middle East.

45% of Canadian oil imports are in the region (EIA). By preventing a major technological revolution, global dependence on the Middle East is only increasing. According to the International Energy Agency, from 2030 onwards, global oil consumption will increase by about 60%.

Transportation will be the fastest consumer of the oil sector. By 2030, the number of cars will increase from almost 700 million today to more than 1.25 billion. As a result, global gasoline consumption could double. The two countries with the highest oil consumption growth are China and India, whose combined population is one third of humanity.

Over the next two decades, Chinese oil consumption is expected to grow at a rate of 7.5% per year and India by 5.5% (compared to industrialized countries 1-3%). As a result, Asia will import 80% of its total oil needs by 2030, 80% of which will come from the Persian Gulf. The reason for the increase in the share of the Persian Gulf countries in world energy is related not only to geology but also to resource management.

While non-Middle Eastern countries are pumping at full speed, Middle Eastern producers, many of whom are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are sticking to their quotas and producing far below their capacity. This means that non-OPEC oil is running out almost twice as fast as OPEC. ExxonMobil estimates that non-OPEC production – which includes Russia and West Africa will peak in a decade, leading to oil recycling abroad.

In the dawn of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the threat of militant Islamic terrorism – rooted in the Middle East and South Asia – is central. While these religious extremists are highly representative of minorities, their threat is real. As noted by Bruce Hoffman of RAND, in 1980, out of 64 groups, two were classified as predominantly religious.

In 1995, almost half of the identified groups, 26 of the 56 groups, were classified as religiously motivated. Most of them supported Islam as their guiding force. The more global reason for the terror issue is essential: the dark side of globalization that liberal optimism easily forgets. Beyond the prosperous West, there is a world that feels deprived of the benefits of modern life. If, above all, there is a fact to be taken into account by the conscious West, this is what can be called “global anger”: the widening gap between the developed West and the wider crisis areas. And the anger that surrounds it – in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Strategic Vision of the Middle East

Since the formation of the modern state in the Middle East in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the region has come as no surprise as it has witnessed wars, civil strife, invasions, military coups, revolutions, and terrorist attacks. Despite this high degree of instability, the region has been a relatively reliable supplier of oil to the world market. During the 1956 and 1967 wars between the Arabs and Israel while blocking the Suez Canal, the 1973 Arab oil embargo made significant exceptions, during which the average gross oil shortage on the world market was between 30 million and 640 million barrels. 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Persian Gulf War 1980-1988, the Persian Gulf War 1990-1991 and the 2003 Iraq War and subsequent attacks on this country.

In recent years, instability in the region has been exacerbated by unconventional violence, including asymmetric Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and religious and social divisions and tensions between the region’s Sunni and Shiite populations. The latter is played out in Lebanon’s shaky democracy and more violent post-war Iraq. However, it is unlikely that these sources of conflict will have a direct impact on the supply of resources in the Persian Gulf.

Oil, with the exception of Iraq, is seeking the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities that are currently under siege. 24 The country is currently witnessing an increase in terrorist attacks in which the Sunni group Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group including al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, has claimed responsibility.

Elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, al-Qaeda and its affiliates pose a greater threat to the region’s oil security in the short and medium term. For al-Qaeda, attacks on oil production and export systems have not only been justified, but have been encouraged to prevent the supply of “Muslim oil” to “enemies of Islam.” Al-Qaeda’s stated targets are the “apostate” Arab regimes, of which the Al-Saud regime has the highest priority, and the United States is seen as protecting Western Arab regimes and misusing their oil resources. By attacking Saudi oil interests, 25 al-Qaeda seeks to target the monarchy’s economic base, overthrow the regime, and drive the Americans out of the region.


Analysis above gave vent to the conclusion that the source of new terrorism which seem to be traceable to the Middle East is actually a hand-made of the west that is Europe and America and the effects and casualties extend beyond this region with wider ramifications and consequences on global peace. The reverberating and panoramic contort of these on developing countries deserve special attention due to their technological level and resource mobilization for surveillance and security management endeavours.

The creation and threat of terrorism in the Middle East will always remain an issue to global security and could worsen over the decade because of the high global dependence on the region especially on energy sector. Terrorism which is globally becoming rampage with the influence of the west in affiliation with the Arabs, are now creating more  terror groups in the name Islam from more countries, are now active in more places than ever before. The establishment of extremism will continue to exploit fragile and violence-prone states, including in Southeast Asia, for safe havens and to build skills. Globally, terrorism will add to instability and drive international security interventions, especially in the Middle East and Africa.


  1. Dependence On Middle East Energy And Its Impact On Global Security :
  2. International Terrorism and the Middle East: An Expository Approach :
  3. Globalisation and Terrorism in the Middle East :