Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Sep 29, 2009

Water Shortage in Jordan

In a previous post (9/13/09) I have referred to Jordan as among the five most impoverished country in the world in water supply. Nearly 90% of Jordan is barren desert.

Jordan depends on rainfall for its drinking water and agriculture irrigation. It has always been very efficient in capturing 90% of its rain. However, recently rainfalls have diminished due to climatic changes which led to longer periods of drought.

In addition to natural causes, Israel, in violation of international law, has diverted most of the Jordan River water to southern Israel. This has increased the depletion of the Jordan River. Officials in Jordan estimated that the flow of water into the Dead Sea from the Jordan River is 10% of what it used to be 50 years ago. It has been estimated that by 2050 the Dead Sea would have dried out.

Furthermore, in order to make up for the decreasing water flow into the Jordan River, Israel diverted water from a sewage plant into the River. Hence, the meager flow of water into the River is highly polluted (BBC News, 9/26/2009).

Recently, due to the decreasing availability of fresh water, the Jordanian government established a Water Management System whereby certain sections of the capital Amman will be receiving water during specific days: 1 or 2 days per week instead of 2 to 3 days per week.

Four years ago (2005) Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed, in principle, to build a canal connecting the Red Sea with the Dead Sea at an estimated cost of $11 billion. The purpose behind the proposed project is to provide a new source of drinking water as well as a new flow of water into the Dead Sea. This project is still not implemented due to the lack of financial resources.

The Al Jazeera (9/27/09) reported that the Jordanian government officially announced that it will build part of the above mentioned canal connecting the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. It will start in 2010 and be completed in 2014. The initial cost for such construction is estimated at $2 billion.

The canal will pump 310 million cubic met. per year from the Red Sea, of which 240 million cubic met. will be desalinated in Aqaba. From the 240, 120 million cubic will be used for drinking water, and 130 million cubic met. will flow into the Dead Sea.

Presently, the population of Jordan exceeds 6 million, and it is increasing rapidly at the rate of 3.5% per year. Hence, the construction of such canal is extremely important to Jordan in order to meet the pressing need for drinking water.

Sep 27, 2009

Yom Kippur

I couldn't help but writing this post since tomorrow is Yom Kippur which is celebrated by people of the Jewish faith.

According to Judaism, Yom Kippur is a day of atonement and acknowledgment.

By 'acknowledgment' I hope Israelis examine the frequently used terms: 'anti-semetism' and 'Holocaust.'

Israeli politicians and Jewish Zionist skillfully use the above terms to intimidate those who criticize their policy.

Amira Hass, an Israeli journalist wrote an article, 'The Holocaust as Political Asset,' in Haaretz (4/18/2007) stating that "turning the Holocaust into a political asset serves Israel primarily in its fight against the Palestinians." She, further, points out that : " The phrase 'security for Jews' has been consecrated as an exclusive synonym for 'the lesson of the Holocaust.' It is what allows Israel to systematically discriminate against its Arab citizens." 'Security' is used to justify "control of the West Bank and Gaza and of subjects who have been dispossessed of their rights living alongside Jewish residents, Israeli citizens laden with privileges."

Acknowledgment of the miss use of words by Israeli apologists will be consistent with Judaic tradition for such a day as Yom Kippur.

For further information on the miss use of the above terminology see:
1. Ilan Pappe's "Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank." The Independent (1/28/08).
2.Ilan Pappe, "Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.
3. Norman Finkelstein, "Beyond Chutspah."

Sep 26, 2009

Double Standard

During the past years the US and Western governments have been pressing Iran to implement UN resolutions regarding its nuclear research program.

A threat of severe economic sanction is to be imposed if Iran does not comply by UN resolutions.

The Western mass media continues to present Iran as a threat to world peace due to its nuclear research, which will ( in the media's opinion) lead to the production of nuclear weapons.

The US and Western governments are continuously insisting on having Iran implement the UN resolutions, However, they are not pressing Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank!

During the past forty years, Israel has obstinately ignored UN resolutions and continues the illegal construction of Jewish settlements. More than 250 settlements were built to accommodate 500,000 Jewish settlers.

Israel has consistently ignored UN resolutions since its creation in 1948. It continues to confiscate Palestinian lands, demolish homes of Muslims and Christians Palestinians and destroy their farm lands. The reasons behind such disregard for international request (albeit a lukewarm request) is due to US foreign policy. It indirectly gives Israel the green light to do what it pleases.

President Obama has proposed to the Israeli government to freeze the construction of settlements as a precondition to start peace negotiation with the Palestinians. Last June in a speech at Cairo University, President Obama clearly stated that the US does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlements.

Furthermore, in his UN speech (9/23/09) President Obama stressed the illegal occupation of the West Bank, and called on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, to start negotiation to end the conflict.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has rejected so far any freeze on the construction of settlements!

President Obama's request need to be implemented, and Israel tactic of 'ignore and reject' needs to be reversed to a policy of 'acceptance and execution'.

The US and Western governments should put an end to their double standard policy. The same standard used towards Iran should be applied on Israel.

Finally, in order to have peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the Israeli government should implement without delay UN resolutions. A hopeful wish!

Sep 24, 2009

The Clowning of M. Gadhafi at the UN

The international press had their day, yesterday, reporting around the globe about Gadhafi clowning at the UN.

In a rumbling speech at the opening meeting of the UN General Assembly (9/24/09), Libya's M. Gadhafi spoke for more than one hour without making any sense.

He praised President Obama and said that "Obama should be president for life"!! A statement reflecting his political credo. Few minutes later he shifted the topic to the assassination of President Kennedy, and the needs for the removal of the UN outside the US.

In addition to his inane speech, Gadhafi created a stormy situation when he decided to pitch his large tent in an estate in New Jersey. The local authority objected and his plan was quashed.

Gadhafi is a disgrace to Libya and to the Arab World in general. His presidency ad infinitum, 40 years, is due again to the absence of democracy in that part of the world.

Sep 22, 2009

The Underlying Meaning of Throwing a Pair of Shoes!

Few days ago the Iraqi government released Montather al Zaidi from jail. He was imprisoned for throwing his shoes at President G.W.Bush during his last visit to Iraq in 2008.

Al Zaidi is an Iraqi journalist who shared the suffering and pains of many Iraqis that resulted from the US invasion of Iraq. When he threw his first shoe at President Bush he shouted: this is a message of retaliation on behalf of the widows of Iraq. He threw his second shoe and exclaimed: this is on behalf of the orphans of Iraq.

It is an insult to hit someone with a shoe according to Arab culture.

Within hours after that incident Al Zaidi was viewed as a national hero in the Arab World as well as in many countries outside the Middle East region. It has also been reported by the Arab press that a wealthy Saudi offered a million dollars to get that pair of shoes!!

My point here is to stress the recklessness of the Bush administration in starting an unnecessary war that caused extensive human casualties and physical destruction. More than 1.25 million Iraqis died needlessly. This large number of casualties translates into more than 740,000 widows and around 5 millions orphans. Moreover, this war has destabilized the Iraqi society by creating 5 millions refugees.

We Americans have also suffered tremendously in terms of human loss and economic debacle.

Shouldn't the Bush administration be held accountable and responsible for misleading the American public??

Sep 21, 2009

Control of Iraqi Oil

The US Vice President, Joe Biden, has just returned from a trip to Iraq. According to the Washington Post (9/17/09), Biden has pressed "Iraqi leaders to offer more financial incentives for foreign investors to bid on Iraqi oil concessions." In this article, according to Bill Van Auken " this demand points once again to the real motives that underlay the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq....."

The Iraqi government has not yet responded to US pressures.

American politicians continue to commit mistakes due to the pressure applied on them by lobbyists and big corporations.

Politicians have been talking about developing alternative programs which will make the US less dependent on oil imported from the Middle East. They have failed so far.

Thomas Friedman in an excellent article "Real Men Tax Gas" published in the NYT (9/20/09), quotes the energy economist Phil Verleger who recommended " a 1$ tax per gallon on gasoline and diesel fuel." Such tax Verleger says "would raise about $140 billion a year," and if he had that money he"would devote 45 cents of each dollar to pay down the deficit and satisfy the debt hawks, 45 cents to pay for new health care and 10 cents to cushion the burden on the poor...and those who need to drive long distances."

Verleger expounds a very sound economic proposal that not only discourages people from driving the extra mile, but can also provide the money needed to support President Obama's health care proposal.

I would like to stress here that Western and Northern European countries began to impose taxes on oil ( between $ 4 and $5 per gallon) more than 20 years ago and it did not ruin their economy.

The price of imported oil is controlled by Wall Street gamblers who were mostly responsible for last year increase in gazoline prices which reached $4 -$5 per gallon.

In general, the American public is submissive to the "market conditions," and seldom questions Wall Street financiers' maneuver. But, whenever the word 'TAX" is mentioned, the public complains in spite of the fact that the US is not the highest taxed country in the world. It ranks 12th after other European countries.

Let us be more committed and support a gasoline tax which will benefit our society at large.
The only way to be committed is to make our voice heard.

Sep 17, 2009

A Recent Tragedy in Yemen

Since the end of foreign colonialism in the Arab World, i.e. after WWII, not a single country experienced political stability. This is attributed mainly to the fact that the Arab World has been, and still is governed by authoritarian rulers despite their claim that they were freely elected by their people.

There is an absence of democracy, accountability and transparency in the Arab World that are the major causes for the present turmoils in the region.

The latest political upheaval is taking place in Yemen between the government forces and the Shi'a (Zaidi) rebels.

The Shi'a-Zaidi were overthrown in 1967 by a military coup. This led to an eight years civil war.

The recent rebellion of the Shi'a group referred to as the Huthis, claim that they are discriminated against by the government in Sana'a. On the other hand, the government claim that the Huthis want to impose Shi'a religious law on the Yemini population.

According to a UN Report (BBC News 9/10/09), more than 150,000 Yemini have fled their homes to escape death.

Who is righteous? Which side is ethical? This is not the issue, but rather the death of innocent people on both sides, is the issue

Unfortunately similar conflicts will occur in the Arab World until the day we see that authoritarian regimes are replaced by freely elected system of government.

Sep 15, 2009

Lebanese Political Turmoil

It has been almost three months since Lebanon's parliamentary election took place.





The majority and minority elected blocks have failed to reach an agreement regarding the formation of a national unity government.





This failure is attributed to two major factors, sectarianism and foreign interference.





First, sectarianism was the result of an agreement made by the French colonial power after WWII. According to this agreement, the president's position would be given to a Christian Maronite despite the fact that demographically Maronites were a minority group. The prime minister's position would be allocated to a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the parliament would be a Shi'a Muslim.





Second, foreign interference in Lebanon internal affairs has been consistent. This is reflected in the recent election. The majority block let by a Sunni Muslim, Saad Hariri, is backed by the Saudi and American governments, and indirectly by the Israeli government. The minority block led by a Christian Maronite, Michel Aoun, and a Muslim Shi'a, Hasan Nasserallah, is backed by the Syrian and Iranian governments.



Both sectarianism and foreign interference have had a major negative impact on the instability of Lebanon. The only solution to this complicated situation is for Lebanon to adopt the popular voting system irrespective of ethnic, or religious affiliations.

Sep 13, 2009

Crocodile Tears Over the Dying of the Dead Sea

The BBC News reported on 9/12/2009 that Israel is mourning the dying of the Dead Sea.



The Dead Sea is located between Jordan on the east side, and the West Bank and Israel on the west side. It is considered to be the lowest spot in the world, 420 meters below sea level.



Prior to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the Jordan River was a major source of water to both Jordan and Palestine. Since the creation of the state the flow of the River began to decrease due to the diversion of its water to southern Israel.



It was estimated that before the diversion of the Jordan River water, one billion cubic meter per year used to flow into the Dead Sea. Now the flow is less than 10% of what it used to be. This change led to a drastic fall of the water level of the Dead Sea by 80 feet, and the loss of 1/3 of its original size.



It is indeed a farce on Israel 's part to mourn now the "Dying Dead Sea" after having diverted most of the Jordan River water away from it.



Shouldn't the Israeli government be held responsible for such an environmental disaster??



See earlier post on this blog: Israel Water Control

Sep 10, 2009

Iraq Water Problem: Further diversion

Iran has recently committed an environmental violation. It has completely diverted the water flow of the Karoon River away from Iraqi lands.



The Karoon River starts in Iran and flows into the Eastern area of Shatt el Arab in Iraq and into the Arab Gulf.



The river course of the Karoon was diverted into the Bahinsheer River in Iran. The water diversion, which has been estimated to be 1200-1800 cu.met/second, will result in a severe water shortage in the Basra governorate in Southern Iraq.



The impact of this water diversion will affect both the agricultural and fishing sectors in Iraq.



It should be stressed here that Iraq has already been affected by the decrease in the water flow from both the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers due to the construction of dams in Turkey.



The impact of the latest diversion of the Karoon River will create further hardship on Iraq.

Shouldn't then International law control the flow of rivers that crosses international boundries???

Garbage Dilemma in Egypt

The collection of garbage has been recently a problem for the Egyptian peope, especially in the greater Cairo Metro area.



The government has contracted foreign companies, after the failure of national companies, to assume the responsibility of garbage collection. However, the problem has not yet been resolved and the people are suffering from such incompetence.



What does it take for those responsible to establish an efficient system of garbage collection and street cleaning in a city such as Cairo that attracts millions of tourists????



Egyptian's bureaucratic apathy has to be shaken and the public has to demand efficient services from their officials.

Sep 7, 2009

Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians Brought to the Readers' Attention

'Eretz Israel' or greater Israel is a political Jewish-Zionist ideology which was promulgated by European Jews since 1897. It calls for the creation of a Jewish state stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates.



The ideology was implemented 50 years later by the United Nations. In 1948 the UN partitioned Palestine into a Jewish and Palestinian state without the consultation of the majority of its Muslim and Christian population.



The designated 53% portion of the land of Palestine was to become the state of Israel inspite of the fact that the majority of its population were Palestinians.



Since its creation, Israel began to implement its expantionist policy by forcing out hundreds of thousands of Palestians.Others fled as a result of fear after the massacre of Dir Yassin. Furthermore, more than 500villages were demolished by the Israeli military forces in order to prevent Palestinians to return to their homes.



Prior to the 1967 War, Israel was in full control of 78% of what used to be Palestine. After the war and the occupation of the West Bank, Israel built more than 250 Jewish settlements.



The construction and the annexation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank were in violation of all UN resolutions, the International Court of Justice, and the Geneva Accord Treaty of 1948.



Anyone criticising Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is branded as an anti-Semitic.



For further information, please read the book entitled 'Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians' by the Israeli Professor Ilan Pappe. The book was published in September 2007 by the National Book Network.

Sep 5, 2009

Freeze on the Construction of Settlements in the West Bank

Several months ago, President Obama asked Prime Minister Natanyahu of Israel to freeze constructions and expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a pre-condition to the discussion of the two states solution.

The Israeli Prime Minister has not yet responded positively to President Obama's request. The construction of thousands of homes are still carried on in the West Bank.

Israel is not only defying the US President, but also ignoring the whole world which is supportive of President Obama's initiative.

I think that the traditional US approach of using velvet gloves to continuously deal with the Israeli government is a waste of time. If the Israeli government does not comply with the request of settlements freeze, more serious measures should be publically announced and applied.

Israeli Military Arrogance

Israel is classified as the 6th military power in the world, and the dominent one in the Middle East region.



Nevertheless, Israel has been attacking voiciferously Iran about its nuclear potential as being a threat to Israel's security.This is despite the fact that according to the CIA report, Israel possesses between 200-300 nuclear heads.



Furthermore, Israel has recently expressed alarm at the growth of the Algerian militry navy, which in the view of the Israeli government is a threat for its future international routes for trades.



If Israeli politicians fear the threats mentioned above, why don't they take firm and final decisions about withdrawing from the occupied land, and settling the conflict with the Palestinians? And, why don't they support the Egyptian proposal to turn the Middle East region into a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction?

Effect of Depleted Uranium

Since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the dropping of American bombs is having a drastic impact on the Iraqi population.



Recently, it has been reported ( al jazeera 9/1/09) that the number of children born with physical defects in Iraq (Faluja) has been increasing. This is the beginning of a tragedy for future Iraqi generations due to the biological effect of depleted Uranium(DU).



I would also like to stress here that the (DU) from the American 'dirty bomb' is also causing irreparable damages to many American soldiers.



For mor information on (DU) read my article "The Iraqi War Conspiracy and Its Tragic Aftermath" cited on the blog.

Turkey, Syrian and Iraq water problem

There has been ongoing meetings between officials from Turkey, Syria and Iraq regarding the decreasing flow of water in both rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris.



The Turkish government acknowledged publicly the water need for both neighbors, Syria and Iraq, and promised to increase the flow in the Euphrates from 400 to 500 cu.met per second. But, it refused to formalize it and sign an agreement with Syria and Iraq since Turkey itself does not have excessive water behind its dams.



Any increase or decrease of the water flow in both rivers, will also be affected by the seasonal rainfall. Hence, the environmental factor will be the decisive factor in the future.

Sep 4, 2009

Israel Water Control

There are three areas in the Middle East classified as candidates for a political upheaval due to the shortage of water: Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.

Israel, Jordan and the West Bank rely on two main water sources. The Jordan River which starts in the Syrian Golan Height and flows into Lake Tyberius, and into the Jordan valley to finally end into the Dead Sea.

Three agreements were signed between Israel, Jordan for water sharing.

1. American mediation led by E. Johnson (1955) allocated 175 million cu.met. /year of water from the Jordan river to Jordan. The agreement was not implemented because Israel diverted most of the Jordan River water to southern Israel.

2. In the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel, signed in 1994, the previous water allocation was revised and Jordan was allocated 75 million c.met./year. However, after the assasination of prime minister Rabin, the new prime minister Natanyahu dropped Jordan's share of water to 25 million cu.met./year. That portion of water was highly polluted.

3. The peace agreement of 1994 included a statement whereby Jordan was prevented from drilling wells in Waddi Araba, which is part of Jordan. Hence, Israel was given full control of the underground water reserve.

The above reasons led to an increase in water shortage in Jordan and led to its classification among the five most water impoverished countries in the world. The average individual share of water has been estimated to be 150 cu.met./year, only 50 cu.met./year of that is allocated for personal drinking.

Second, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the control of water, began with the occupation of the West Bank in 1967. Since then Israel began to control water resources, and the Palestinians were prevented from drilling wells from their underground reserves.

Under the Oslo agreement of 1995, Israel is allocated 57 cu.met.of water per person per year from all sources. However, the Israelis gets 246 cu.met./person/year. The source of such amount is derived from the West Bank underground reserves.

Since its creation in 1948, Israel relied totally on the use of military force to implement its political ideology of expansion.

*Kevin, your comments are an addition to my blog. Please keep it up

Sep 2, 2009

World Water Development Report

The depletion of fresh water resources is attributed to several factors:



1. climate change

2. population growth

3. expansion of industrilization and urbanization

4. expansion of agriculture to meet demands for food production



The World Water Development Report stated that within the next 30 to 50 years there will be "substantial population displacements" due to the shortage of water especially in the Middle East, such as in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

United Nations Report

The UN continues to issue warning of widespread water shortage. Such shortage will raise risks of political upheaval and economic stagnation over the next 20 years.

According to the UN Report, 19 Arab countries out of the 22 are classified below the poverty water level.

The UN reports that individuals share of fresh water in the world has been estimated at 7,000 cu.met/year/person by comparison to less than 1,000cu.met/year/person in the Arab World.

With the continous increase of population and urbaniztion fresh water supply will continue to be depleted.

Sep 1, 2009

Consequences of water Shortage in the Middle East


The Middle East consists of 25 states of which 22 are Arab states.


The region is inhabited by more than 500 million people, two third of them live in the Arab World. They do indeed face many problems such as : environmental, political, economical, and demographic. All of these problems are pressing issues.




Million of people depend on fresh water from three major rivers. The Nile which starts in Africa, and Egypt is the last recipient of its water; the Euphrates which starts in Turkey and flows into Syria, Iraq and the Arabian Gulf; the Tigris which also starts in Turkey and flows into Iraq and the Arabian Gulf.




The environmental changes that contributed to many droughts, as well as the increase in population led to the shortage of fresh water in the Arab World.


Some Middle Eastern experts predict that the lack of fresh water in the majority of countires in the Middle East will be the spark that will ignite conflict and wars rather than oil.


What do you think? This is open for an interesting discussion.

Conflict in Sharing the Water of the Nile River


"Egypt is the gift of the Nile" Herodotus.


During the past few years several meetings were held regarding water sharing between the Nile river basin countries.


The Nile river basin countries consists of: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Kenya and Burundi. The down river recipient countries are: Sudan, and Egypt.


The focus of discussion among the representatives of both groups was to revise a water sharing agreement that was signed by all under the British colonial authority in 1929.


According to the agreement, Egypt was to get 84 billion cubic meters per year from the Nile river. Furthermore,the agreement states that no water diversion project affecting Egypt's share should be constructed .


The last meeting of the countries involved was held in Alexandria, Egypt, in July 2009. No agreement was reached. However, the committee decided to meet again in six months after consulting the authorities in each government.


Meanwhile another meeting was taking place in Israel. It was reported that an American Jewish organization arranged for high government officials from Rwanda and Uganda to visit Israel to discuss economic co-operation in agricultural and water development projects along the Nile river.


Egyptian newspapers stated that Israel was behind the revision of the Nile water treaty.








It should be added that after the signature of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, prime minister Menahim Begin expressed interest in receiving water from the Nile. President Sadat of Egypt rejected such an idea








I would like to stress the fact that the livelihood of 80 million people in Egypt depends on the Nile river.
Hence, should the Nile river or other rivers, or other rivers for that matter, crossing international boundaries be regulated by international law?