Last week the world celebrated Environment Day while the Arab world, its institutions and societies, remain sadly silent about their abused environment.
Their environment is like an orphan child in a cruel world left to be battered by desertification and pollution. Arabs have many dilemmas to busy themselves with terrorism in Iraq, civil war in Sudan, freedom crisis in many Arab capitals, human rights issues, and occupied territories; which are all very important. However, polluting the environment is just as serious. The sanitation crisis, water contamination and air pollution are a slow death that millions face every day.
The situation keeps getting worse than we ever imagined. Egyptians and Sudanese do not drink the water of their God-given Nile. Iraqis no longer drink from the Euphrates; Syrians eye their deceased Barada River with grief. In southern Iraq, 14 million palm trees a source of the best types of dates have been removed in the last thirty years. The irony here is that nothing saved these areas from starvations and hard times but these blessed trees.
Although we drink Mocha coffee in American and European cafes, the Yemeni coffee trees are disappearing, and are being replaced by Khat trees that exhaust people’s time and money. In Sudan, which is considered the world’s richest country in food resources, people stand in lines to get their UN food aids. Arabs, who used to hold a yearly conference on agriculture, now hold summits to resolve desertification in the Arab world.
What’s odd about all this is the collective silence. Although the environment is a common cause, Governments remain silent, opposition groups don’t say a word, and both Islamic and liberal parties remain mum. The victims of food contamination and air pollution are all human beings. Unlike selective assassination and poisoning, it kills without rules. This disregard of ecological issues is only part of a bigger state of deterioration, dishonesty, absence of priorities, and above all, carelessness towards human lives!