Infectious/Chronic Disease Likely To Pose Marginal Impact On US Strategic Interests In The MENASA Region Over The Next 10-15 Years


Key Findings


Executive Summary:

Infectious and chronic diseases are likely to have a marginal effect on the US strategic interests of carrying out the global war on terrorism, promoting democracy, ensuring regional stability through defusing regional conflicts, and prohibiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction across the Middle East, North Africa, Eurasia/Caucasus, and South Asia (MENASA) region overall. The South Asia and Gulf States regions are likely to experience the greatest risks from both infectious and chronic disease as India, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen all suffer from depleted healthcare systems, inadequate nationwide infrastructural integrity, and issues associated with terrorist activities. India in particular is likely to suffer economic losses which directly affect global economic growth. Conversely, the Middle East/North Africa and Eurasia/Caucasus regions will face the greatest risk over the next 10-15 years from chronic diseases. With the transition to middle income country status, the majority of countries in this region now face the challenge of developing their healthcare systems to deal with rapidly rising chronic issues such as cardiovascular disease or respiratory disease.


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Discussion:


Gulf States Sub-Region

It is likely infectious and chronic disease will minimally impact 75 percent (6 out of 8) of the countries in the Persian Gulf sub-region. These six countries all have excellent, Western-comparable healthcare systems that are capable of keeping disease under control. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and to some extent, Oman, all have large oil reserves that give them the capability to provide quality healthcare to their citizens. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and to some extent, Oman and Kuwait, have natural gas reserves that give them the same capability. Other countries have reinvested petroleum revenues in growth industries, implementing forward-looking economic diversification policies in preparation for it someday running out. Two countries have taken this approach and because of this Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates enjoy two of the best banking sectors in the entire Middle East.

Global War On Terrorism
Infectious and chronic disease will likely have a significant impact on the US national interest of combating global terrorism in both Iraq and Yemen.

In Yemen, infectious disease will likely have a significant impact on the US national interest of combating global terrorism in that the lack of quality healthcare and the inability of the Yemeni government to provide adequate healthcare services to its populace creates a terrorist-friendly environment. Many Islamist groups operating in Yemen have made it a point to provide the rural, disaffected populations in the remote, tribal regions with healthcare and education, something the Yemeni government has so far failed to do. Providing these services allows Islamist groups to endear themselves to the local population, provides them with a platform to spread their radical ideology, and allows them to build alliances and ensure their own security and protection. It also creates a large pool from which future recruitment can take place.

In Iraq, infectious disease will likely have a significant impact on the US national interest of combating global terrorism in much the same way as it does in Yemen in that it creates a terrorist-friendly environment. The inability of the Iraqi government to provide for the basic needs of its population, particularly with regard to healthcare, delegitimizes it in the minds of many Iraqis, particularly Sunnis who lost all of the benefits they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein to the more populous Shia sect, which now dominates Iraqi politics. Disaffected Sunnis looking for someone to blame for their predicament, are likely to turn to terrorism or the Sunni militias as an outlet for their anger as well as a means of providing for their basic needs and those of their families.

Promoting Democracy
Infectious and chronic disease will likely significantly impact the US national interest of promoting democracy in both Iraq and Yemen.

In Iraq, infectious disease is likely to significantly impact the US national interest of promoting democracy. Rising disease rates, particularly in hepatitis E, cholera, typhus, gastroenteritis, and diarrheal diseases caused by failing essential services infrastructure; the inability to adequately repair this infrastructure due to rising levels of violence and looting; as well as high levels of perceived nepotism and corruption in the Iraqi Ministry of Health have significantly undermined the legitimacy of the new Iraqi government.

In Yemen , infectious disease is likely to significantly impact the US national interest of promoting democracy. Disparities in government funding for healthcare, heavy underfunding, a high population growth rate, the concentration of most primary healthcare centers in major urban areas, and a lack of administrative oversight have combined to give Yemen a very poor healthcare system. The government has so far been unable to adequately provide quality primary healthcare, clean water, and sanitation services to its population, and the perception that the government is unfairly favoring the urban areas over the more remote, tribal areas when it comes to healthcare funding is undermining the legitimacy of the Yemeni government and democratic progress there.

In Yemen, infectious disease will likely have a significant impact on the US national interest of democracy promotion in that it indirectly contributes to widespread dissatisfaction with the government among the Yemeni populace. Healthcare in Yemen is vastly underfunded, with 91 percent of expenditures funded out-of-pocket by Yemeni citizens, making proper healthcare a luxury available only to the economic elite or the military, which receives much of the government healthcare funding. The availability of healthcare in Yemen is also a function of geography. In the more remote, rural areas where the vast majority of the population resides, primary healthcare is virtually nonexistent. Those facilities that do exist are hugely understaffed and underfunded. A lack of administrative oversight creates an environment conducive to corruption, and as a result, Yemen's Medical Fund often fails to distribute medicine on time. Medicine smuggling is a lucrative business in Yemen, as 37-50 percent of the medicine in the country is illegally smuggled into the market. There is also unequal funding distribution in Yemen, with facilities in different areas of the country receiving vastly different funding packages. Dr. Abdulkarim Yehia Rasae, Yemen's Minister of Health, illustrates this problem: "The government allocates YER (Yemeni rial) 5,000 (approximately USD 25.50) per bed in al-Kuwait Hospital, YER 8,000 (approximately USD 40.80) per bed in al-Thawra Hospital, while one bed in a hospital in Hajja government (supported by Saudi Arabia) is allocated USD 200,000 yearly." There is also an unequal distribution of doctors throughout the country. While there is one doctor for every 600 people in the city of Sana'a, there is only one doctor for every 12,000 and 90,000 people, respectively, in Dhamar governorate and Otma province.

Defuse Regional Conflicts - Regional Stability
Infectious and chronic disease will likely have a significant effect on the US national interest of defusing regional conflicts by improving regional stability structures in both Iraq and Yemen.

In Iraq, infectious disease will likely have a significant impact on the US national interest of defusing regional conflicts through improved regional stability. As the fighting and sectarian violence continues to worsen, the number of Iraqis seeking sanctuary across international borders is likely to increase dramatically. These large groups of displaced persons would likely put a strain on the resources and infrastructure of neighboring countries, particularly Syria, Jordan, and Iran, the most likely destinations for Iraqis taking overland routes to escape the violence and bloodshed of their native Iraq. Infectious disease outbreaks are just as likely to occur in overcrowded refugee camps across the border in Jordan, Iran, or Syria as they are in Iraq, a scenario that has dangerous implications for regional stability.

In Yemen, infectious disease will likely have a significant impact on the US national interest of defusing regional conflicts through improved regional stability. The inability of the Yemeni government to provide for the basic needs of its people has led many Yemeni to engage in illicit activities. Despite being the poorest country in the Arab world, Yemen is also its largest weapons purchaser. Weapons trafficking is prolific in Yemen and it has the potential to significantly undermine regional security. Yemen is a known weapons contributor to Islamist militias fighting the government for control of Somalia, and some of these transfers have been at least indirectly sanctioned by the Yemeni government. One shipment in particular was overtly delivered by the Yemeni Air Force. Yemen purchases weapons from arms dealers out of ports in Montenegro and Croatia and sells them to various armed groups in Sudan, Palestine, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, in addition to Somalia and al-Qaeda. Yemen is also undermining US regional stability efforts by allowing terrorists to use its territory to train and recruit as well as smuggle fighters into Iraq. According to a Saudi source, Yemen is the first leg in a Yemen-Syria-Iraq transit route that is responsible for smuggling many Yemeni and foreign fighters into Iraq to join the insurgency there.

Combating The Proliferation Of Weapons Of Mass Destruction (WMD)
It is likely that infectious and chronic disease will significantly impact the US national interest of combating WMD proliferation in both Iraq and Yemen.

Although Iraq is at the top of the list for potential WMD knowledge-base proliferators and is therefore receiving funding to reassign former Iraqi WMD scientists to more gainful employment inside Iraq, it is likely that infectious and chronic disease will only have a marginal impact on this interest over the next 10-15 years.

In Yemen, infectious disease will likely have a significant impact on the US national interest of combating WMD proliferation. Yemen's poor healthcare system will likely put it at risk of increased infectious disease prevalence in the near-term, which will likely cause the Yemeni government to divert some resources away from other things, such as security, to increase healthcare funding. Given Yemen's lax law enforcement and import/export controls, it is likely that Yemen could facilitate the proliferation of WMD to Islamist groups operating freely within its borders.


South Asia Sub-Region

Iran, Pakistan and India each have highly ineffective healthcare systems in place. Common features of healthcare in this region include corruption, wild disparities between the care given to rich and poor portions of the population, and underfunding, particularly in India where just .9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) is spent on healthcare. Vastly underreported AIDS rates and public stigma concerning the disease will likely lead to rapid infection increases in Iran, Pakistan and India. Massive increases in crucial healthcare spending will likely take away money earmarked for interests held in higher regard by the US, but considered less crucial by the regional governments (such as combating terrorism). Pakistan is particularly likely to underfund its terrorism initiatives because of its many healthcare related problems. This increased spending will likely also limit the ability of Pakistan and Iran to project their strength and gain influence in the region. India's torrid economic growth will likely suffer severely while simultaneously directly affecting the global economic market. All countries in this region will likely have the heaviest economic losses in the unskilled labor portion of the economy, thus hurting global markets including oil, textiles, and chemicals. Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which both have excellent healthcare systems compared to their mainland neighbors, will likely maintain that status.

Defuse Regional Conflict / Regional Stability
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to significantly affect the ability of India and Pakistan to defuse regional conflicts within the next 10-15 years. India and Pakistan have a long history of regional conflict between one another. However, Pakistan's current problems of poor healthcare, cooperation with the US in the war on terror, the dispute with India, its rebuilding process from the 2005 earthquake, and its problems with neighboring Afghanistan make it unlikely for the country to enter into a major regional dispute in the near future. The country lacks the resources and is currently pulled in too many directions to focus on one issue or country. Internal instability is a much more likely outcome for Pakistan. The political and economic strains on the government are immense and it seems unlikely the current US friendly government will maintain control over the next 10-15 years. India will likely suffer much heavier economic losses but still be the overwhelming regional powerhouse. Infectious and chronic diseases are likely to contribute to regional disputes as citizens pass back and forth between borders spreading disease. This is especially true along the India/Burma border which contains extremely high levels of drug use, prostitution and AIDS cases. The province of Uttar Pradesh, which borders Nepal and contains more people than Britain, Germany and France combined, is also likely to face a coming AIDS crisis because of its inadequate healthcare system, high poverty rates and extremely high population density.

While Iran openly seeks to expand its influence in the region, its healthcare system will likely place a significant strain on its economy and force Iran to limit its hegemonic regional goals. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called on the Pakistani public to return the Iranian birthrate to what it once was under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 3.2 percent. That high birthrate crippled the Iranian economy. An Increasing birthrate, rising AIDS levels, and inadequate healthcare will likely return Iran to a economic state similar to that under Khomeini and limit their regional aspirations within the next 10-15 years.

Global War On Terrorism / Iraq War Support
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a moderate impact on the US strategic interest of support for the global war on terrorism in 60 percent (3 out of 5) of the countries in the South Asia region over the next 10-15 years. Affects on the US War on Terrorism from infectious and chronic diseases will likely manifest themselves subtly. Nearly all of these countries face a looming healthcare crisis which will force specifically India and Pakistan to pump substantially more money into their healthcare networks to help maintain political and economic stability. With such huge expenditures of capital needed, supplemental internal funding for anti-terrorism initiatives is not likely to be funded as robustly as the US would like. In Pakistan, where many Al Qaeda training camps are rumored to exist, this anti-terrorism funding is absolutely crucial. At the same time however, Pakistan must rebuild roughly 80 percent of its healthcare facilities from the 2005 earthquake. The strain between crucial social services and less crucial internal policing is already clearly evident in Pakistan and likely to continue. High levels of public corruption also contribute to these issues. This corruption makes outside funding from governments and NGOs less meaningful because the money often does not end up where it was intended.

In Iran, infectious and chronic diseases will likely help the US war on terror. Iran's economy is almost entirely dependant on oil. With 90 percent of Iran's citizens receiving some form of government assistance a slowdown in the country's steady production of oil will likely dramatically weaken both the anti-US Iranian government and the country's economy. Rapidly increasing HIV/AIDS infections, a growing population, and increasing cardiovascular diseases will likely affect Iranian oil output sporadically over the timeframe of this estimate. A recent study by Tehran University of approximately 1200 Iranian oil workers found almost 220 years of productivity are lost due to absenteeism caused by cardiovascular disease. Population growth and disease will place more stain on the government making it more difficult to fund outside initiatives aimed at increasing Iranian influence and curtailing US goals.

Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a marginal impact on the US strategic interest of Iraq war support in 60 percent (3 out of 5) countries in the South Asia region over the next 10-15 years. India, Pakistan, and the Maldives all have US military bases on their soil. India also participates in joint military operations with the United States. Both India and Pakistan have taken a 'middle of the road' approach toward the war in Iraq. Neither country is likely to add troop levels nor offer substantial support for the war in the future as internal support for the war is low and both countries are looking to grow economically. Pakistan in particular has been critical of the war. President Pervez Musharaf criticized the war in a recent book saying that it does not make the world a safer place.

Global Economic Growth
Global economic growth is significantly affected by chronic infectious diseases in 2 of the 5 countries in South Asia, specifically India and Pakistan. HIV/AIDS, rising rates of cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes within the region are likely to take the heaviest toll on unskilled labor in these countries, directly affecting the entire economic system of the individual country, and in India's case, affecting the global economy. As a result of the toll on unskilled labor, expect significant losses in the mining, chemical, and textile industries. Oil-rich countries like Iran will likely face production slowdowns as a result of infectious and chronic diseases over the next 10-15 years. Healthcare spending as a portion of GDP is likely to rise in India in particular. Rising public healthcare costs are highly likely to drain governmental funds and take away from other areas of development or sinking countries into debt, inflation, and job loss.

In India, HIV/AIDS alone is likely to take away 1 percentage point of economic growth per year over the next 15 years, with heavier losses toward the end of that timeframe. Additionally, the country is likely to triple its diabetes rate to 57 million and account for 60 percent of all cardiovascular disease in the entire world by 2025. Increasing rates of dengue fever and other mosquito borne diseases will all take the heaviest toll on India’s agricultural and unskilled labor markets and likely severely affect US economic and humanitarian interests by decreasing Indian productivity while massively increasing the amount spent on public healthcare, which currently accounts for just 0.9 percent of total GDP. Humanitarian interests in the regional will also be affected by increasing disease trends. Rising infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS will lower educational levels and force many children into labor to make up for the income not earned by parents.

In Pakistan, unskilled labor, the lynchpin of economic growth for the country, will suffer the greatest from the burden of disease. Compounding this problem is the fact that the country’s health care system, which lost 80 percent of its facilities in the 2005 earthquake, must literally be rebuilt from the ground up. Current disease trends are highly likely to go untreated and contribute to substantial economic losses throughout the next 10-15 years. Widespread corruption within Pakistan's healthcare industry is likely to affect the economic health of the country as a whole, as international donations are used inappropriately and necessary improvements in Pakistan's healthcare system either do not occur in a timely fashion or at all.

Infectious and chronic diseases in Iran are likely to weaken the Iranian economy significantly, causing both economic and to a lesser extent political instability within the next 10-15 years. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is likely to increase healthcare spending while encouraging rapid population growth, both of which will destabilize the Iranian economy by draining the national savings. More important is the impact disease, sanctions, and international oil prices will have on stability. With international sanctions in place, Iran's economy is almost entirely dependant on high oil prices and steady production and high price per barrel. Assuming sanctions continue while Ahmadinejad is in power, a widespread disease outbreak, which is likely to happen sometime within the next 10-15 years, will likely hurt oil production, cause rapid and increased inflation, and severely damage the government in the process. As HIV/AIDS continues to migrate from intravenous drug users to sexual relationships, the economic strain will likely become more pronounced as Iran's workforce, military, and economy all bear the burden of increased infection.

Weapons of Mass Destruction
Government corruption is the biggest threat to WMDs in this region. The South Asia region has a very high corruption rate compared to much of the world because of the lack of transparency in many areas, as well as widespread poverty. Below is a breakdown of corruption rates from our entire region, with South Asia ranking first:
  • South Asia average: 85, range: 57-124
  • Eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus: corruption average: 81, range: 50-113
  • Gulf States average: 64, range 25-143
  • North Africa/Middle East average: 57, range: 27-90

In the worst-case scenario of a severe pandemic flu outbreak, the World Bank estimates that the countries of this region would suffer between a five and ten percent GDP hit. There is no data to show what the likelihood of such an event is, but given the limited transmission between people of avian flu around the world already, this scenario is unlikely. The economies would suffer under a pandemic, but the odds of heavy economic slowdown are very low.

In the South Asia region, India and Pakistan both possess nuclear weapons, while Iran is currently developing its nuclear capabilities. Over the next 10-15 years chronic and infectious diseases will marginally to moderately affect the nuclear programs of these countries. In India and Pakistan, corruption represents the greatest threat to proliferation. Low levels of transparency and accountability in Pakistan in particular could feasibly lead to the exchange of nuclear information, however this is speculation. Corruption in Pakistan is rampant and healthcare corruption in particular is rising after the infusion of international aid following the 2005 earthquake. In Iran the risk from chronic and infectious disease is somewhat overstated as the majority of their nuclear scientists are between the ages of 33-35.


Middle East/North Africa (MENA) Sub-Region


Democracy
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a moderate impact on the US strategic interest of democratic development in only 30 percent (3 out of 10) of the countries in the MENA region over the next 10-15 years. As stated in the 2007 Congressional Budget Justification, the US aims to establish greater transparency and fairness in the democratic processes of Egypt, Algeria, and Lebanon. With all three countries experiencing population growth rates between 1.2 and 1.7 percent, the healthcare system of each country is unable to maintain an equal level of progressive improvement. With avian flu outbreaks in Egypt, sanitation and water access issues in Algeria, and growing widespread chronic disease issues in Lebanon, the need to invest more money into the healthcare system is likely to take precedence over improvements in democratic processes overall.

Global War On Terrorism
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a marginal impact on the US strategic interest of support for the global war on terrorism in 80 percent (8 out of 10) of the countries in the MENA region over the next 10-15 years. The healthcare systems of these countries, when looked at collectively, all are near or just below western standards. The biggest risk to the US strategic interest of support for the global war on terrorism comes not from diseases like HIV/AIDS or Malaria, but rather primarily from general cardiovascular disease (CVD). When compared to the US, all seven of the eight countries with interests in the global war on terrorism have CVD rates far greater than that of the US. With such a high risk from CVD, many of the leaders of antiterrorism forces and security forces are likely to be forced into retirement within the next 10-15 years. To prevent the loss of valued expertise in the fighting of terrorism as the leaders are replaced by a younger population, the US grants its support to the MENA region by way of Non-proliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related (NADR) programs. Specifically this includes anti-terrorism assistance (ATA), terrorism interdiction program (TIP) assistance, export control and related border security (EXBS) assistance, counterterrorism financing assistance (CTF), and humanitarian demining (HD). While the populations of these countries also face risks from infections stemming from urban overcrowding, poor water access, and sanitation issues, these are likely to pose only a marginal threat to US strategic interests over the next 10-15 years solely because the healthcare systems of these countries, while not consistent with western standards, do have the ability to treat and prevent the majority of these types of infectious ailments in the long run.

external image Bar2DHorizontal-258939122199998a1mo.cg.059mo.cc.104_Small.pngDefuse Regional Conflicts
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a marginal impact on the US strategic interest of defusing regional conflicts in 90 percent (9 out 10) of the countries in the MENA region over the next 10-15 years. Chronic disease, especially CVD and respiratory diseases, is on the rise in the majority of the MENA countries (Libya is the exception). This stems from the region's current transition from low income to moderate income economies in eight of the ten countries (high income countries include Israel and Lebanon). While greater economic achievement for the MENA region brings with it better possibilities at improving diplomacy and ensuring stability, these strategic US interests remain at a marginal risk from chronic disease. With aging leaders retiring due to rising chronic disease rates, greater expenditures of each country's GDP is likely to be spent on training future generations in both the political and military sectors. However, US International Military Education and Training (IMET) funding is granted to the majority of MENA region countries, hence keeping the affects of this transitioning leadership marginal, along with the overall risks from infectious and chronic disease.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a marginal impact on the US strategic interest of dealing with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in 90 percent (9 out of 10) countries in the MENA region over the next 10-15 years. With regards to WMD problems in the region, the greater issue is transit of WMD materials across MENA region borders, rather than actual proliferation. Only Libya attempted to develop a nuclear program, but that program is now in a period of transition away from arms proliferation and into civilian sector uses of nuclear technology. However, with increasing GDP rates across the region, the US aims to grant greater aid to the actual training of MENA militaries as a whole, rather than solely on NADR-EXBS concerns (see chart below). Across the MENA region, economies now grow steadily with GDP growth rates averaging 3.8 percent since 2000 and overall GDP levels averaging roughly USD 51.9 billion. MENA region countries now enjoy the ability to grant greater funding to both border security and improving healthcare, rather than having to trade one off for the other as was often necessary in the past. Evidence of this effect is seen in the 2007 Congressional Budget Justification as the requested budget for border security aid across the region is declining and being reallocated to other areas of concern. Greater economic prosperity is the justification for such action.

Country

US Dollars Requested For Export Control And Related Border Security Assistance (NADR-EXBS)

Difference From 2006

Algeria
300
+235
Egypt
250
-60
Israel
N/A (Requested as part of overall military commitment)
x
Jordan
506
-494
Libya
x
x
Morocco
300
+235
Syria
N/A (No US money requested)
x
Tunisia
80

Western Sahara
N/A (No US money requested)
x
Note: All numbers are in thousands of US dollars
Information Source: 2007 Congressional Budget Justification.

Eurasia/Caucasus Sub-Region


Global War On Terrorism
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a marginal impact on 80 per cent of the countries in this region on the United States (US) national interest of support for the global war on terrorism over the next 10-15 years. The strategic location of this region with its proximity to the Middle East puts it at the forefront of the war on terror. The only country in this area not affected in its war on terror by disease is Cyprus, for a couple reasons: first, its health care system is one of the top in the world; second, there are no serious endemic disease threats. As for the rest of the region, health care systems are generally poorer, and proximity to areas of conflict is greater. The potential in this case is for funds that could be used for border security and counterterrorism forces to be spent instead fighting diseases.

Democracy

Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a moderate effect in 60 per cent of the countries of this region over the next 10-15 years on the US national interest of promoting democracy. This area of concern is focused entirely in the Caucasus region: Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan are all, because of their strategic location, ideal partners for the US interest of furthering democracy within the region. These former Soviet republics are all making strides toward free-market capitalism, but as the 2007 Congressional Budget Justification reports, some of them are inconsistent. The primary disease threat in the region is cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD kills far more people in this region than any other disease, so the odds of this disease affecting the leadership of each individual country are high. This creates an opportunity for the US government to provide funding to help the healthcare of the countries, which, if they need to save the leadership, will likely help the leaders affected to view the US in a more positive light.


Defuse Regional Conflicts
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a moderate impact on 80 per cent of the countries in this region on the US national interest of defusing regional conflict within the region over the next 10-15 years. The most likely area of conflict to be affected in the region is the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which at the moment technically belongs to Azerbaijan but is cut off from the rest of that country by Armenia. Neither of these countries has a particularly strong health care system, so in the event of a particular disease becoming a problem, such as avian flu (which exists in Azerbaijan), funds that are currently being put toward diplomacy and conflict resolution will be used instead on combating the disease. The dispute on Cyprus between Greek and Turkish Cypriots is unlikely to be affected at all because of the robustness of the Cypriot health care system.

Weapons Of Mass Destruction
Infectious and chronic disease is likely to have a marginal effect on 100 per cent of the countries in this region on the US national interest of halting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction over the next 10-15 years. The largest threat here is governmental corruption due to poverty. If a pandemic flu strikes, for example, the WHO estimates that the GDPs of the countries in this particular region could suffer a five to ten percent hit. This would make governmental corruption more likely, but it still is unlikely to result in great WMD proliferation.Armenia_opium_seizures.jpg
The existing drug-smuggling piplines have strong potential to also work for WMDs. This problem is highly significant because drug trafficking across the region is rampant. Armenia in particular sits in a location bordering one of the primary routes for trafficking of narcotics into Europe. When the Soviet Union collapsed, government corruption increased exponentially. One of the best pieces of evidence for this is the number of opium seizures by Armenian border officials. In 1995, authorities seized 9.2 kg, but the very next year only 1.906 kg were appropriated. A similar trend was seen in 2001 and 2002 where authorities confiscated only 2.188 kg and .016 kg in those years, respectively. The local government is almost completely unable to stop the spread of the drugs, and "the ministry of interior and other law enforcement bodies are allegedly heavily involved in drug smuggling." Multiple routes exist for smuggling narcotics into Azerbaijan, from where some of them make their way into Georgia and then on to Europe.

Additional Comments:

None.

Source Reliability: 6
Analytic Confidence: 6

Primary Authors: Ryan Malanowski, Ben Fischer, Nathaniel Eaton, Pete Zawistoski

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Countries

Algeria | Armenia | Azerbaijan | Bahrain | Cyprus | Egypt | Georgia | India | Iran | Iraq | Israel | Jordan | Kuwait | Lebanon | Libya | Maldives | Morocco | Oman | Pakistan | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Sri Lanka | Syria | Tunisia | Turkey | United Arab Emirates | Western Sahara | Yemen


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