Essay Hydro-Politics Along the Jordan River

5715 Words23 Pages
Hydro-Politics Along the Jordan River

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,
…show more content…
By 1969, the Israelis had completed the National Water Carrier, a pipeline project that pumps water from the Sea of Galilee south and west and currently supplies one-quarter of the country with water. The Arab nations have repeatedly called Israeli water harvesting practices the surest sign of "Zionist imperialism."1 Today, this language is more muted, but its undertones pervade the region's political dialogue. The past is never forgotten in the Middle East, and an understanding of hydro-politics among the Jordan riparians requires a keen awareness of this fact.

Regardless of the past, the importance of water in the Middle East as a source of conflict has been continually under-appreciated both within the region and abroad. As Boutros Boutros-Ghali warned before taking his position as Secretary General of the United Nations in 1992, "the next war in our region will be over water, not politics."2 Water has a deeply spiritual importance in the Middle East. For over 1,500 years, Islamic law has dictated punishments to those denying access to or polluting water, because it holds water as reverent and spiritually pure. The Zionist tradition holds a similar reverence for the land and its resources.3

Since the end of the Cold War, water has assumed a more prominent place in the diplomatic relations between Israel, Jordan, and the other Middle Eastern states. Beginning
Open Document