Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Water pacts re-examined amid Arab Spring
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (UPI) Jun 14, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Amid the profound political changes sweeping the Arab world, there are moves to rewrite contentious water-sharing agreements that are becoming a major source of friction in the Middle East as water supplies shrink.

In May, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned his neighbors, with Turkey and Syria his main targets, that the region faces conflict unless the issue of dwindling water resources is addressed by regional governments.

Baghdad is increasingly angry and frustrated at the failure of Turkey, in the north, and Syria, to the west, to resolve a growing crisis over the reduced flow and the deteriorating quality of water from the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers they allow Iraq.

Maliki's biggest fear is that the water shortage, which has been worsening for a decade or more, will trigger violence within Iraq.

"As the dust settles on the political unrest of 2011 and new governments and leaders are elected in Libya and Egypt over the next two years and South Sudan joins a group of countries looking to renegotiate the distribution of the Nile, there is likely to be renewed focus on resource security," the Middle East Economic Digest observed.

The water issue is a constant factor in the tension between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

The business weekly said "the most contentious dispute over water resources in the region" centers on the Jordan River, which flows through Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Jordan and Israel.

Israelis use 66 gallons a day, while Palestinians are limited to 15.4 gallons, even though they claim a major underground aquifer and access to Jordan River.

Rivers including the Euphrates, Tigris, Nile and even the Jordan River, which cross national boundaries and are a major source of water supply, could well become flashpoints for rising regional tension.

"Equally, governments' ability to manage their rivers and negotiate with their upstream neighbors could well, as is the case in Iraq, lead to growing unrest at home," the weekly warned.

Thirteen of the 20 states that make up the Arab League rank among the world's most water-scarce nations.

In the Persian Gulf, the oil-rich Arab monarchies led by Saudi Arabia are investing heavily in new-generation desalination plants equipped with advanced technology to meet an ever-growing demand for water due to population growth and major economic expansion.

Without rivers and little rainfall, the countries of the Arabian Peninsula have little choice but to opt for highly expensive desalination systems.

But the other Arab states, with the possible exception of Iraq whose oil production is steadily rising, cannot afford to do that, making agreements on sharing riverine water flows with their neighbors strategically important.

Iraq has been badly hit by Turkey's massive dam construction in Anatolia that has reduced the flow of the Euphrates and the Tigris which rise close to each other in the Taurus Mountains of eastern Turkey.

A major stumbling block to a meaningful dialogue on the issue for Iraq is the dearth of data on the water sector.

"Iraq really doesn't know how much water it has or how much it needs," says Casey Walther, who until January was water projects coordinator in Iraq for the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

"Negotiators from Baghdad arriving at summits have found it almost impossible to get what they want out of talks because they can't accurately state what they actually need."

In the emerging new Egypt, following the 2011 downfall of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, one of the key issues that has to be tackled soon is the long and acrimonious dispute over the Nile.

Eight upstream states, led by Ethiopia, where the Blue Nile rises, have been demanding a more equitable share of the Nile's waters that have been controlled by Cairo under British colonial era agreements.

Mubarak refused to surrender Egypt's right to 75 percent of the Nile's flow under agreements these states argue have become historical relics.

The Nile is Egypt's lifeline. With a population of 82 million expected to hit 101 million by 2025, it's going to need much more water than it currently gets.

Egypt's new rulers may be more accommodating but to do that they'll have to find another source of water while Ethiopia and the upstream states build dozens of dams to satisfy their burgeoning populations.


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The downstream consequences of depleting groundwater
Stanford CA (SPX) Jun 14, 2012
Hard lessons from around the American West and Australia could help improve groundwater management and protect ecosystems in California, Stanford University researchers find. The Water in the West program at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment is focusing attention on how groundwater pumping can threaten rivers and ecosystems and, conversely, how creative groundwater management can be a ... read more

Japan to develop drones to monitor radiation

Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse

Japan agency sorry for comparing radiation to wife

Lithuania launches regional nuclear safety watchdog

Japanese restrict atomic exposure testing

Microsoft reaches into TV market with Xbox Live ads

iPad to drive stronger tablet sales worldwide: study

New national supercomputer to perform astronomical feats

India's capital in water crisis after supplies cut

Experts lament poor ocean progress in 20 years

Please stop Xingu dam, Amazonian Indians plead at summit

The downstream consequences of depleting groundwater

North-East Passage soon free from ice again

NASA Discovers Unprecedented Blooms of Ocean Plant Life

Will The Ice Age Strike Back

Secure, sustainable funding for Indigenous participation in Arctic Council a key priority

A New Way of Looking at Photosystem II

China firm recalls baby formula tainted with mercury

Maize diversity discoveries may help ease world's hunger pangs

EU, China agree on ag sustainability

Quake-hit Afghan village could become mass grave

Undersea volcano gave off signals before eruption in 2011

More than 70 feared dead in Afghan quakes

Afghan quakes kill at least three: officials

US expanding secret spy bases in Africa: report

UN trade body says Africa must embrace sustainable economy

Madagascan community sets example of saving environment

Botswana, climate and tourism

More people, more environmental stress

How infectious disease may have shaped human origins

Homo heidelbergensis was only slightly taller than the Neanderthal

Fossil discovery sheds new light on evolutionary history of higher primates

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement