Can Water Extinguish the Flash Points of the Middle East
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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This paper will examine some of the many factors which are currently influencing events in this area. Most of these factors have been relevant for a considerable period of modern as well as ancient history and portend to be factors well into the future. In an area that has been experiencing difficulties with water shortages for generations, we will review the explosive population growth that is expected over the next one to two decades. We will look at rivers which are the principal sources of water in this area which cut across numerous international borders. We will discuss major aquifers which are virtually ignored by any type of international guidelines. We will observe that the international organizations that one might expect to see set up to administer this critical natural resource or provide basic guidelines from international law are virtually non-existent. We will also discuss a number of engineering proposals that have been proffered to address the water shortage in the area. We will discover that while the engineering challenges of many of these projects are truly daunting, the potential payoffs are quite significant. Unfortunately, these projects are virtually stillborn due to ancient animosities and distrust. We will then review the few engineering projects that are underway or completed in the region and see a lack of system level planning that is frightening from its potential to increase tensions and spark water-based conflict. We will discover that a fixation with total independence from any neighbor will lead to such unimaginable events as the squandering of a desert nations fossil water in order to become a net exporter of grain that costs four times the world market value to produce. Finally, we will entertain a few strategic observations concerning the likelihood of progress concerning this most crucial of resources in one of the worlds most volatile areas, and discuss the implications for U.S. national security policy.
- Environmental Health and Safety