Security, Intelligence and Strategic Studies
Exploring the Link Between Climate Change and Terrorist Recruitment
The Middle East is the region of the world suffering the most from environmental degradation, particularly from water issues. Environmental deterioration in the region contributes to the pre-existing local stresses, exacerbating the political, economical and social problems. The inability of regional governments to respond to these challenges only worsens the condition of the population, which lives in poverty. As a consequence of living in demoralizing conditions, citizens are more receptive to the appeals of ISIS. This terrorist organization claims to offer solution to their problems, by providing them employment and an emotional outlet for their desperation. Given that the environmental situation in the Middle East is predicted to worsen in the near future, ISIS — and perhaps other extremist groups — may exploit climatological grievances to strengthen their power. This paper contends that just as ISIS has used water crises to recruit members in the Middle East in the past, it may use the climatological crisis even more as a recruitment tool in the coming decade.