Presentation on theme: "Water issues and conflict in the Middle East If we solve every other problem in the Middle East but do not satisfactorily resolve the water problem, our."— Presentation transcript:
Water issues and conflict in the Middle East If we solve every other problem in the Middle East but do not satisfactorily resolve the water problem, our region will explode. (Yitzhak Rabin in Klare 2001: 141)
Facts about water and water scarcity in the ME According to the World Bank the amount one human needs in order to remain alive and healthy is 100 to 200 litres per day! Less than 3 percent of worlds overall water is fresh water, less than 1 percent of the fresh water supply is accessible to humans. World Bank: Eleven countries in the ME have annual per capita supplies at or less than 100 cubic meters: –Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen
Water conflicts in the past Destruction of Babylonian irrigation systems as retribution by Assyrians Modern period: Fashoda Crisis in southern Sudan in 1898 between France and Britain Water conflicts during Cold War oArab-Israeli War of 1967 (control over river Jordan) oSyria and Iraq almost went to war in 1975 (Syria filled up Lake Assad, and reduced flow of Euphrates River) o1990 Turkey blocked flow of Euphrates to fill up its own reservoirs
Disputes over water have not disappeared in the ME, but are expected to intensify since: –demand is overtaking supply –mayor sources of fresh water in the region are shared by two or more counties (Nile is shared by 9 countries, Euphrates and Tigris system shared by 4 countries, Jordan basin by 3, Mountain aquifer beneath Israel and West Bank) –counties often depend on one main source of water supply to satisfy basic needs (Nile, Jordan, Euphrates) As a result any increase in one countrys consumption of water, will result in less water being available to others. Conflict is not only possible between states, but also between groups within society
The situation is expected to be further exacerbated by: population growth improved standards of living global warming Situation need not lead to war, where states have amicable relationships they can work out disputes through negotiation, and even work in concert to address problem of water scarcity. However, some disputes about water are between states with long history of less than civil relations. In these cases shortages can lead to conflict in the future.
Jordan River Basin 5 riparian states : Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine Very arid, low precipitation, high temperatures so water scarce 2 issues: - surface water (Jordan river) - ground water (aquifers) Water disputes embedded in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
West Bank Aquifer aka Mountain Aquifer WESTERN BASIN largest and most abundant lies in Israel and part of West Bank but it is recharged by precipitation that falls in West Bank historically used by Palestinians, then with Jewish migration into Palestine at end of 19th century, water became shared 1920s/30s intensive exploitation of resources by Jewish settlers which was then promoted further by Israel between 1948 and 1967 This continued after Six Days War and now more than 90% of basin used by Israel
NORTH-EASTERN BASIN Also considered to be transboundary EASTERN BASIN Lies entirely within the West Bank Used exclusively by Palestinian farmers and villagers until 1967
Israel-Palestine Conflict Hydrological matters additional dimension to conflict Water resources often coincide with disputed land and are transboundary in nature e.g Israel receives more than 50% its water from Arab territories Emerged mainly since 1960s After 1967 war (water one of issues to initiate war) Israeli policies and institutions extended to occupied territories
Now, Israel using nearly 80% of West Bank waters. Palestinian plight further compounded by fact they are forced to pay higher rates for their water supply Huge discrepancies between water allocated to Palestinians and Israelis Also further tension due to Palestines claims to share of Jordan river
Water for agriculture Water needed for domestic use but also vital for agriculture 80% of water resources assigned to irrigation of crops in Israel and West Bank Agriculture represents 25% of Palestinian GDP. In Israel agriculture is 4% BUT per capita, Israel uses 4 times more water than Palestine annually
Attempted Agreements in Palestinian-Israeli Water Conflict Johnston Plan 1953 The signing of the Declaration of Principles September 1993 Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty of October 1994 Oslo Accords
Conclusions Issues of quantity, quality and distribution Water important factor in conflict in region and as demand outweighs supply, multi-lateral agreements are only way forward Water scarcity increasing year by year due to population growth, over-exploitation and pollution Although water scarcity and distribution causes conflict, maybe, the severity of the water crisis could breed cooperation between Palestine and Israel?
Resolving the water conflict will not bring peace to the region. However, peace is not attainable without a solution to the water conflict