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Rivers of Dust: Water and the Middle East

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From Dispatches From The Edge

The Biggest Threat Humanity Faces is Water Crisis According  To The World Economic Forum
The Biggest Threat Humanity Faces is Water Crisis According To The World Economic Forum
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It is written that "Enannatum, ruler of Lagash," slew "60 soldiers" from Umma. The battle between the two ancient city states took place 4,500 years ago near where the great Tigris and Euphrates rivers come together in what is today Iraq. The matter in dispute? Water.

More than four millennia have passed since the two armies clashed over one city state's attempt to steal water from another, but while the instruments of war have changed, the issue is much the same: whoever controls the rivers controls the land.

And those rivers are drying up, partly because of overuse and wastage, and partly because climate change has pounded the region with punishing multi-year droughts.

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Syria and Iraq are at odds with Turkey over the Tigris-Euphrates. Egypt's relations with Sudan and Ethiopia over the Nile are tense. Jordan and the Palestinians accuse Israel of plundering river water to irrigate the Negev Desert and hogging most of the three aquifers that underlie the occupied West Bank.

According to satellites that monitor climate, the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, embracing Turkey, Syria, Iraq and western Iran, is losing water faster than any other area in the world, with the exception of Northern India.

The Middle East's water problems are hardly unique. South Asia -- in particular the Indian sub-continent -- is also water stressed, and Australia and much of Southern Africa are experiencing severe droughts. Even Europe is struggling with some rivers dropping so low as to hinder shipping.

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But the Middle East has been particularly hard hit. According to the Water Stress Index, out of 37 countries in the world facing "extremely high" water distress, 15 are in the Middle East, with Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia heading the list.

For Syria and Iraq, the problem is Turkey and Ankara's mania for dam building. Since 1975, Turkish dams have reduced the flow of water to Syria by 40 percent and to Iraq by 80 percent. According to the Iraqi Union of Farming Associations, up to 50 percent of the country's agricultural land could be deprived of water, removing 124 million acres from production.

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Conn M. Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, "A Think Tank Without Walls, and an independent journalist. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He oversaw the (more...)
 
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Mohammad Ala

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You should know that the new term Middle East has NO historical record and was invented in the 20Th century by Brits who came to our region to steal oil/gas and other natural resources.

For further information, please click here.

I consider World Bank and IMF as loan sharks. These organizations were created to bankrupt many countries and deplete their national resources.

Privatization is another word for stealing especially from poor countries.

We are all affected worldwide by what happens any where. The globe has become vulnerable because of privatization to maximize corporate profits.

People of any country and region must stand up to privatization of stealing their national resources. People of each country must take care of their own resources including water.

Yes, in Iran water has become a problem due to waste, population growth, and mismanagement.

Climate change is because of privatization and maximization of profits.

Privatization is not the answer.

Government control is the answer.

The answer is people controlling and caring for their own resources.

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019 at 6:55:42 PM

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Limited number of corrections are allowed. Meant to say Government control is NOT the answer.

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019 at 7:11:11 PM

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Daniel Geery

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By 2030, according to the UN, four out of 10 people will not have access to water.


Within a few years, as in less than five, there will be very few humans, if any, left on earth. According to outspoken climatologists, thinking humans, the daily news (particularly on a global level), and looking a bit more carefully out your window.

YES, we are one rch from extinction. Millions of species and similar numbers of humans have already succumbed.

Can we possibly get real?

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019 at 7:19:02 PM

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John Rachel

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The solution is at hand. Monsanto is working on a GMO cow that gives Coke instead of milk. Even better, this savior cow doesn't drink water, it drinks oil. Human ingenuity is limitless!

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019 at 8:57:32 PM

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I'll start a hundred head. Are they working on Pepsi?

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019 at 10:35:53 PM

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The UN is the vehicle to at least begin addressing many important challenges. But that requires monomaniacal leaders -- as well as the citizens of nations across the planet, especially those in the developed countries -- recognizing that we face common difficulties, share a common destiny, are in important respects members of a community of human beings, not national tribes, thus we must relinquish some portion of our "sovereignty" to reach common goals and solutions. In an age of rising nationalism and "me-ism", that is unlikely to happen.

Watching UN-bashing a tragic commentary on how short-sighted we as a species have become. It's not lack of vision -- there are many viable solutions -- it's an unwillingness to collectively open our eyes and see what can be accomplished.

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 1, 2019 at 9:06:35 PM

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