Term Paper: Future Wars of the Middle East Will Result Over Water Shortages

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Water in the Middle East

Governments around the world have a primary concern over water availability and the Middle East and North Africa are no exception. The thesis evaluates the possibility of future wars throughout the Middle East and North Africa due to water scarcity and limited water resources presently being experienced in that region.

The paper starts by revealing the gravity of the situation by showing the present statistics surrounding the problem of water scarcity throughout the world. Thereafter, the paper highlights the importance of water in the national economy. From then on, the paper briefly discusses the present situation of water scarcity in the Middle East by noting down the present available resources of water in the Middle East. Lastly, the paper briefly highlights the reason underlying possible future water wars in the Middle East and North Africa.

The literature review presents a concise, yet, comprehensive information about the views of pertinent authors, scholars and writers on the subject of the possibility of future wars throughout the Middle East and North Africa due to water scarcity and limited water resources presently being experienced in that region.

The results of the study reveal that not only the ever-increasing demand of water but also the limited water supplies and the decreasing sources of water will pave way for future water wars throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, since Middle East has one of the fastest growing population rates in the world. This population explosion coupled with the afore-mentioned reasons will also trigger an all out war.

The paper also discovers that the present regional unrest, differences, decades old border disputes, minor conflicts and centuries of conflicts will not mellow down, but instead will serve as a catalyst in future water wars. Furthermore, the international laws and regional cooperation will not pave way for peace, but instead will escalate tension and lead the countries to war.

The paper also finds that the Middle East countries cannot economically grow at a pace that will allow them to compensate for the water scarcity problem by providing its people alternative sources of livelihood, but rather the present economic growth will stagnate due to the unavailability of water. Lastly, the issue of water pollution and newer water exploitation methods will augment the already existing mistrust and hatred amongst the Middle East and North African countries, leading them to future possible wars.

The paper concludes by briefly analyzing the findings and assessing possible variables and alternative scenarios that might be adapted by the Middle East and North African states to avert war.

Synopsis

It is without a shadow of doubt that countries around the world have a primary concern over water availability, with the ever-increasing population and the declining resources of water. The governments in the Middle East and North Africa are no exception to this growing problem. Presently, almost all countries in this region confront scarcity in the availability of water. With the increasing population and limited water resources available in this region, future water shortages and famine can be calamitous, catastrophic and the catalyst for future wars. Present day conflicts, peace initiatives, as well as international laws and inter-state relationships between countries in the region have water or the lack of water as a common element. This common element is considered to be the most critical factor in creating and sustaining long-term strategic relationships so that healthy initiatives can be acquired to build water resources. In the future, water could be the primary reason for nation states to go to war, particularly in this region. This paper will explore the possibility of a future breakout of war due to the scarcity of water throughout the Middle East.

Introduction

The threat of water scarcity faced by developing counties, in general, and the Middle East countries, in particular, is very severe. This can be gauged from the fact that approximately 40% of the present population confronts water scarcity, while it has been assumed by experts that by 2050, approximately 65% of the world's populations will be facing water famine. Furthermore, it has also been anticipated that the most threatened region is the Middle East and North Africa, where analysts assert that future wars will be almost certainly based on the control of water resources (Ashok Swain, 1998).

The Importance of the availability of Water

It is without a shadow of doubt that the availability of water is the most vital element of human life, as life cannot exist without it. The availability of neither food nor clothing is as important as the availability of fresh and clean water. This is because it is not only the most important element in the protection of the human environment and atmosphere but also the most essential factor in the growth and development of the strong economies and healthy financial and societal systems. Furthermore, water is used in producing cheap hydro-electricity and energy, industrial production and agricultural escalation and amplification. However, with the increase in population at an alarming rate (more than half a million per day); the requirement of the availability of fresh water is becoming more and more critical. Since this requirement has not been met in the world at large, the per capita consumption of water has been reduced from 33,300 cubic meters per annum in 1850 to 8500 cubic meters per annum in the mid-1990's (Ashok Swain, 1997).

At present, as mentioned above, approximately 40% of the world's population is dealing with the scarcity of water. In fact, hundreds and thousands of humans travel all year long in search of water. They live their lives like nomads and remain in one place until they have utilized the water resources. While, this picture is very noticeable in the Middle East countries, more and more countries are joining the listing of such countries. Experts fear that if the present situation is not given the due attention, then by the middle of this century, almost 65% of the world's population will be confronting water scarcity and famine (Steve Lonergan, 1996). The gravity of the situation in the Middle East can be gauged from the fact that in the mid-1990's almost 8 countries from this region fell below the international standards of "absolute water scarcity," while many others had been on the brink of falling below the redline (Robert Engelman and Pamela LeRoy, 1993). This situation occurs when the yearly per capita fresh water accessibility of a nation drops below 500 cubic meters. These 8 countries in the Middle East faced inbuilt problems and difficulties of water scarcity that severely threatened the public healthcare structure, as well as, hindered the growth and development of the socio-economic system. To add to the difficulty, these regions have one of the highest population growth rates in the world. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to determine the fate of countries if their water resources come to a stand still while their population is rapidly growing at the rate of more than 3% (Ashok Swain, 1996).

However, things have started to lighten up, just a little bit. As the Middle East countries are now looking for alternatives to develop, their water resources. While, throughout Middle East history, people had used ground water resources for their domestic and agricultural uses, it is worth noting here that no such development of acquiring "perennial water resources" took place at the official level. However, with the rapid increase in the population and even quicker urbanization, the local methods of acquiring water turned out to be insufficient for the ever-increasing population. Therefore, the governments in the Middle East, with the help of international institutions, started developing large water resource projects. These projects have been a welcome change in the region severely hit by water scarcity (Peter Beaumont, Gerald H. Blake, J. And Malcolm Wagstaff, 1988).

Presently Available Water Resources in the Middle East

Peter Beaumont, Gerald H. Blake, J. And Malcolm Wagstaff (1988) reveal that by utilizing the "Thornthwaite method" to evaluate the water quantity, it is clear that excessive water is available in the northern part of the Middle East. This can be illustrated from the fact that the highest water-surplus, which is 2400 mm per year, has been discovered at the eastern border of the Black Sea in the northeastern side of Turkey. The writers point out that other regions in the Middle East, where surplus water is available are the Elburz mountains ranges beside the edge of the Caspian Sea, mountains ranges bordering the Mediterranean shores of Turkey and the Black Sea, in the mountain ranges located in eastern part of Turkey, in the coastline of Lebanon and Syria, as well as, in dispersed areas all through the Zagros Mountain ranges (Peter Beaumont, Gerald H. Blake, J. And Malcolm Wagstaff, 1988).

The downside of the entire scenario is that while the size of the Middle East is very large, there exist only three rivers in the entire region, namely, the Euphrates, the Nile, and Tigris. All these rivers can be… [END OF PREVIEW]

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