02/19/2011, 00.00
MIDDLE EAST
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Blue Peace: Only cooperation can resolve the Middle East water emergency

An Indian study, commissioned by Switzerland and Sweden, concludes that the seven countries involved will be forced to settle for the overall management of projects. Secret talks between Syria and Israel for the waters of the Golan Heights and Lake Tiberias.

Geneva (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An Indian Institute, the Strategic Foresight Group, has studied on behalf of the Swiss and Norwegian governments, the situation and prospects of freshwater resources of seven countries in the Middle East. It came to the conclusion that the seven countries concerned will be required to arrive at a series of agreements to resolve their problems. The Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said that the “Blue Peace" report comes to a disturbing conclusion: five of the seven countries surveyed are experiencing a situation of scarcity, and the flow of major rivers has decreased from 50 % to 90% since 1960. " He added: "In the future, the main geopolitical resource of the Middle East will be water rather than oil."

The impact is most strongly felt in the lean months. Most rivers in Turkey experience 50% of their discharge in three or four wet months and the remaining 50% in eight or nine lean months. In Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, the ratio is often 30:70 for lean and wet months. Swiss diplomats have stated that they have already begun to lobby for an operation to create a Board of cooperation involving Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Jordan.

In general, the report of the Strategic Foresight Group argues that the Jordan and the Barada Rivers, the area of water sources between Israel and the Occupied Territories, and the Dead Sea, which are emptied at a fast rate could be "rejuvenated". While the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Litani River, Lake Tiberias and Kabir may be in a position to withstand climate change. And according to the report, cooperation will be the only way forward.

Besides technical solutions, such as the unilateral measures taken by Israel, "will mainly work for a decade or so, but Israel will have to look for external sources and regional cooperation beyond 2020 to ensure its water security." The report points out that something is already moving in this direction. Israel and Syria, secretly "tried to reach agreement on many occasions" on water management, particularly regarding the Golan Heights and Lake Tiberias.
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