Iraq: March 20, 2001


One reason for Saddam Hussein's growing popularity in the Persian Gulf is the failure of the Gulf governments to manage their economies efficiently. Despite the vast oil wealth, unemployment among men under age 30 is 15-25 percent. Some 70 percent of the population is under age 30. Millions of foreigners have been brought in to do many jobs, either because locals lack the skills, or the willingness to do "unsuitable work" (construction, garbage collection, Etc.) Islamic radicals find these unemployed men excellent recruiting prospects. Under such circumstances, it is easy to blame someone else for the problems. Thus the popularity of Saddam, who blames Israel and the West for everything. Same with the Islamic radicals, who see fundamentalism as the only true path. Pushing education and replacing foreign workers with locals helps, but not enough so far. It's a race between efforts to get the unemployment rates down and the efforts of radicals to bring down the governments.


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