Who Pays for Bahrain’s Losses on Account of Terror?

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The Institute of Economics and Peace, a think tank with offices in New York, Sydney and Mexico, has come out with its Global Peace Index for this year. It reveals that the economic cost of violence last year for a tiny island state like Bahrain was a whopping $6.7 billion! Who pays the ferryman?

Why must a small country suffer such heavy loss because of the destructive and destabilizing machinations of a country like Iran? Considering Bahrain’s population the annual loss comes to around $5,069 per citizen – more than the per capita income of many countries in Asia and Africa.

Even though low-key disruptive and terrorist activity had been going on in Bahrain fitfully since 1991, it suddenly assumed virulent dimensions in February 2011 with the onset of the failed Arab Spring and Bahrain has suffered far more since, than in any decade before that.

As if overnight, the sleeping cells with their handlers based in Iran and Iraq and with links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Hezbollah and similar outfits became active with full force, there were attacks on policemen [21 killed and some 4,000 injured since 2011] and security vehicles. There have been hundreds of arson attacks on the 500 schools in the country which have also been repeatedly vandalized, and civic infrastructure, building and facilities have been systematically targeted – bank ATMs, electric supply units, roads, buses.

These constitute only physical structures which can be rebuilt or replenished, though at a cost. There have been losses in other areas which cannot be monetarily quantified such as loss of lives or limbs of security personnel which eventually involves financial compensation but also leaves families truncated and traumatized.

Indirect losses in financial terms are in the areas of tourism since terror discourages tourists [Egypt is a classic case] thus affecting the hotel industry and the arrival of cruise ships. It also prompts those wanting to hold international or regional seminars and conferences to shift the venues elsewhere, again hitting the hotel industry and many other small-scale sectors. And prospective investors in various sectors too show reluctance even though Bahrain is among the top ten destinations for ease of business.

Unfortunately, while individuals and institutions can take out insurance, there is no insurance available to sovereign nations getting battered by terror. Therefore it is for institutions such as the United Nations and powerful Western countries in the East and the West to find a solution to this kind of terrorist onslaught by using their influence and pressure to impress upon the culprit nations in a firm language and no uncertain terms that they have to desist from wreaking havoc in other countries by nefarious means and activities.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.