One of the most important yet under-appreciated conflicts in the Middle East is over water resources along the Jordan River. As population and demand for water in the riparian states of Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria have sky-rocketed, water scarcity in the desert region has reached crisis proportions. In response, leaders on all sides have entered into a dialogue, known as "hydro-politics," that has been characterized by an unyielding attitude of political conservatism set against an understanding that regional cooperation is the riparians' surest salvation. The answer lies in a combination of hydro-diplomacy and technology. With the aid of countries and NGOs outside of the regions, water-sharing agreements between states are under negotiation. Technologies such as reverse-osmosis desalinization and drip irrigation are also combining with water conservation policies to form technical solutions to the problem. One way or another, the problem of water scarcity must be solved and it is hoped that an eventual solution will be one that encourages further cooperation rather than an event triggering hostility. After a thorough review of options for the Jordan River states, it seems that the best solution will integrate technology, conservation, and political cooperation. The last is crucial; without regional cooperation, the Jordan riparians face a future that is both bloody and dry.
Water has always been an issue of conflict in the Middle East, where rising populations, agricultural development and urbanization have put an unprecedented strain on the environment. Since the end of World War II and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, Israel, Jordan, and Syria have professed com...
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Committee on Sustainable Water Supplies for the Middle East, 48.
Thomas R. Stauffer, Water and War in the Middle East: The Hydraulic Parameters of Conflict (Washington: The Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, July 1996) 14-15.
Sandra Postel, Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992) 103-106.
J. A. Allan, "Striking the 'Right Price' for Water?" Water in the Middle East: Legal, Political, and Commercial Implications. J. A. Allan and Chibli Mallat, eds. (New York: Touris Academic Studies, 1995) 325.
Committee on Sustainable Water Supplies for the Middle East, 100-116.