Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Avoiding a Water Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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With the growing number of reports and books confirming the words of political experts and strategic analysts that the next war in the Middle East will be fought over water and water resources, it is extraordinary that another type of war is actually being fought now.

The Saudi Minister of Water and Electricity has launched Saudi Arabia’s largest ever campaign for water rationing. Some humorists even joked that the campaign was so successful that it resulted in an interruption to the water supply in some towns for a number of days and nights. Saudi Arabia’s water problem is now disturbing. With this major plan for rationing water in place and considering it is home to the world’s largest desalination plants and an all-time large national budget, further interruptions to the water supply are no longer acceptable. The water problem is not limited to Saudi Arabia in the Arab region. The situation is even more tragic in a number of Arab countries. Rivers in Syria, for example, are continuously experiencing a critical drop in their water level. In Lebanon and due to the Israeli aggression on water resources, only the Litani River will survive…possibly. Jordan is suffering tremendously from Israel’s aggressions on- and stark violations of- water resources in Wadi Araba. Even Egypt, where the world’s longest river flows, is also suffering enormously from unprecedented fluctuations in the water level and record degrees of pollution at more than one point along the course of the Nile.

For many years, people dealt with water from a withdrawn and theoretical perspective rather than from a serious strategic or security standpoint. The lack of water planning over many years is now having its grave impact, not only in terms of the quantity but also the quality of water. Water failure is not confined to the development of the necessary infrastructures to provide water; rather, it is also an environmental failure due to the failure of Arab states to have a real approach to the recycling of water for irrigation, cleaning streets and cars and industrial usage. When Egypt’s prominent geologist and space scientist Dr. Farouk El-Baz made his famous statement that the “Arab world will go through a stifling water crisis,” nobody believed him. His claim that many rivers had been buried under the sand seemed to be a prediction of the future. Water and its challenges are a critical issue that needs to be resolved.