The Economy of Iraq: Oil, Wars, Destruction of Development and Prospects, 1950-2010
by Abbas Alnasrawi
Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. 186 pp. $55.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Alnasrawi does not so much survey the Iraqi economy as concentrate on two key aspects, the oil industry and the Ba`th Party's policies. The latter includes not only specifically economic decisions (such as the various national development and investment plans) but also the enormous impact of Saddam Husayn's two wars (against Iran and the Desert Storm coalition) on Iraq's economic destiny. The author concludes his study with a particularly interesting consideration of Iraq's economic future.
Alnasrawi begins this assessment by noting that (measured in 1980 prices) Iraq in 1960 had a GDP of about $8.7 billion. Thanks mainly to oil exports, the economy grew to the point that in 1979 it reached $54 billion. Then, thanks to Saddam's many mistakes, it declined to $10 billion -- or, about where it had been thirty years earlier. But things are actually worse than they appear, for Iraq's population tripled in the intervening years, meaning that the per capita income in 1993 was about a third of what it was in 1960. (And given recent trends, it is probably yet much lower in 1995.) In fact, per capita income has by now reverted to where it was in the 1940s. How, then, looks the future? Alnasrawi argues that even if the authorities in Baghdad started doing everything right, the country will "labor under a vicious cycle of debt and underdevelopment" for many years. Per capita income will not return to its 1950s levels for decades; thanks to the Ba`th and Saddam Husayn, "The economic future of Iraq looks bleak indeed."
Related Topics: Iraq | Daniel Pipes | March 1995 MEQ
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