Jul 31, 2010

Population Growth and Shortages of Housing

Population growth and the lack of an economic development strategy have contributed to high unemployment rates and an increase in the number of people who are living in poverty in the Arab world. The negative impact of this is also reflected in a shortage of housing in most Arab states. The cost of buying homes or an apartment in any Arab state is beyond the financial abilities of the majority of people due to low income or unemployment. In some Arab states such as Egypt, the majority of people have been living mainly in rented apartments where the cost of the lease has been frozen for many decades. Usually, upon the death of parents, their offspring will inherit the lease. The owners of the property can't evict them, nor can they increase the rent. Therefore, property owners are subsidized dwellers. This situation is a major factor that over the years discourages investors from building residential homes to rent. There is a way to escape the law when the owner leases a furnished apartment or a house. Then the owner will set the rent scale and have the power to evict the tenant based on a written contract. There are other factors that contributed to the scarcity of housing and living accommodations, such as the influx of people from rural to urban centers in search of a job in all populated states. Most of the recent migrants from rural areas are concentrated in what is referred to in Egypt as "al-ashwaiat" or squatters settlements. These settlements have been increasing due to the increase in population. The squatters' settlements were built in violation of building codes and with no basic amenities, such as sewage systems, water or electrical power. Recently, the Egyptian government announced the allocation of 600 million Egyptian pounds in the current budget to develop "al-ashwaiat" in Egypt. Reference was made to build 212,000 housing units from 2010-2017 to replace the unhealthy type of living accommodations for millions of people. Also, to construct basic infrastructure, such as sewers, water and electrical power. The report revealed that there are 404 squatter settlements that are unsafe to live in, in various governorates in Egypt (www.ahram.org, 7/19/2010). There are other official studies that revealed that the squatter settlements in Egypt exceed 1,034 in 32 governorates.

Since the unemployment is high among people residing in squatter settlements, this situation encourages some women to work in homes as domestic servants. This situation sometimes leads to young women being raped by some male member of the household. IN some cases, due to the extreme poverty conditions, some females also resort to prostitution to support their families. This situation is now recognized as a universal phenomenon, which is also attributed to poverty (www.almasry-alyoum, 7/25/10).

Another factor that is attributed to the influx of people from rural to urban areas in the Arab world is that urban areas attract young men when they finish high school and they move to seek employment Some young men join higher academic institutions and after they graduate, the majority do not go back home.

The population increase in Cairo, as a result of natural birth and influx from rural to urban areas, led many people who were unable to pay rent to resort to the city of the dead a burial area, seeking shelter.

The Egyptian census reported that the number of people living in the city of the dead exceeds one million and a half people (www.almasry-alyoum.com, 12/10/2009). According to the World Bank, there are around 16 million people who inhabit informal and squatter settlements in Egypt. This is equal to one fifth of Egypt’s population. Furthermore, the Egyptian census reveals that four in five people inhabit tiny flats rather than houses, and there are fewer rooms than people living in such types of accommodations.

One of the shared common problems in the Arab world is the fact that electrical power shortages and water scarcity are getting to be common phenomenon. Population growth increases the demands for such basic needs. The higher the population density, the more difficulties the public will face, even in commuting from place to place through heavy traffic and overcrowded transportation systems. During my latest trip to Cairo, the metropolitan urban center resembled an urban jungle. Cairo was built to accommodate 3-4 million people, but its latest size exceeds 17 million people. Every morning, 2-3 million people enter Cairo and leave in the late afternoon. As a result of the crowded streets and neighborhoods of Cairo, a new suburban expansion began to develop during the past two decades on the outskirts of Cairo. The new communities are gated and secured for the benefits of those who live in such suburbs. I have visited some friends who are living in gated communities and they have all they need close to the area in which they live. These new communities even adopted Western names such as Dreamland, Mayfair, Beverly Hills and others. Residential flats are available only to people who have the capability to buy. The cost fluctuates from 500,000 to 2 million Egyptian pounds for a flat and as high as 5-10 million Egyptian pounds for a villa. Such accommodations are built to accommodate no more than members of the upper 15% of the population.

Keep in mind that the majority of Arab population lives in states where the GDP (PPP) is below $6,000. If this new urban trend continues, it will lead to a spatial separation between the rich and poor in urban cities in Egypt.

Jul 29, 2010

Population Growth and its Impact on Poverty and Unemployment

Population growth and slow economic investments contribute to the high unemployment rates and poverty in the majority of Arab states, especially the highly populated ones. Emphasis has been put on the fact that population growth is creating difficulties for economic and human development in the Arab world in general. In addition to population size, the poor quality of education is not producing a knowledgeable young people who are innovative and competitive. This situation of excessive population growth is causing poorly educated young people to run in any empty circle of poverty. An Egyptian government report reflects that "34% of young people between the ages of 20-25 years who are poverty-stricken didn't attend school at all, while less than 1% of the rich children didn't attend school. Furthermore, the report revealed that 97.9% of children of rich families graduated from high school and only 50% of the children in poor families completed high school." (www.middle-east-online.com, 4/18/2010).

One of the main reasons behind the high percentage of young people from poor families not completing their education attributed to poor economic conditions. Many young people dropout of school to work to support their families. This is not an unusual rationale. It is common knowledge that even in the United States a high percentage of the children of poor minorities never finish their educations because of their family's poverty.

There is a strong correlation between education and poverty. The lesser educational attainment, the lower the chances for employment, which contributes further to poverty. Illiteracy, unemployment and poverty is the most dangerous combination for any society. It is a destabilizing factor in any society's social order and a major contributor to the spread of crimes.

A recent UNICEF report reflects "the unemployment rates have reached 83% among young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years. This group constitutes 20% of the Egyptian population. Another U.N. report also noted that 41% of the Egyptian population is living below the poverty index level which is $2 per day per person.

Unemployment and poverty are a common phenomenon in the vast majority of Arab states. These include Yemen, Sudan, Morocco and even Jordan, where the unemployment rate fluctuates between 25% and 35%. It is not unusual that such high percentages of unemployment are even prevalent among college graduates in many Arab states. Recently, the Jordanian census issued a report on poverty, that "13.3% of the population is classified as poverty stricken. The poverty index level is 323 Jordanian Dinnar per month ($450) for a family of six. According to the report, 80% of the Jordanian Civil Service's salary does not even reach 300 Jordanian Dinnars per month. This means that this group should be classified as poverty-stricken. Furthermore, the report revealed that 48% of children are born to poor families." (www.aljazeera.net, 7/13/2010).

In Jordan, at least 35%-40% of the population is living below poverty index level, which is $2 per person per day. Unemployment among college graduates has reached a high level in many Arab states. It reached 26.8% in Morocco, 19.3% in Algeria, and 17.7% in Jordan. The unemployment among female college graduates is even higher. It is 29.5% in Jordan, 24.6% in Egypt, 27.5% in Algeria, 26.8% in Morocco and 64.5% in Saudi Arabia. (www.ahram.org, 11/14/2009).

The unemployment rates in the Arab world are among the highest in the world. Chances for improvement seem bleak. The U.N. issued a report (12/2/2009) warning that, "Arab League members are unprepared for the effect of population growth. About 60% of the Arab world's population is under 25 years old, meaning officials have to create 100 million new jobs by 2020 to avert mass unemployment among a youthful population. The increase in population size is destructive in light of the limited natural resources and the absence of a clear economic development strategy. (www.the national.ae/apps/pbes.dll/article, 12/2/2009).

Two out of five Arabs live in poverty, a trend on the increase despite vast oil wealth. Unfortunately, most of that wealth is invested outside the Arab world natural boundaries. The Arab world's political leadership has failed to see beyond their noses. Any event that will create instability in one part of the Arab world will have an impact on others. Reevaluation and the creation of a new economic strategy for the Arab world is a must in order to prevent a human explosion in that part of the world.

Jul 28, 2010

The Impact of Population on Education in the Arab World

Population growth and the failure of most Arab governments in allocating the needed financial resources lead to the decline of quality education. This has contributed to the high illiteracy rates in Arab society. It has been estimated that nearly 68 million people above the age of 10 years old cannot read or write. The percentage of literacy differs from state to state in the Arab world. It fluctuates from 94.5% in Kuwait, 93.1% in Qatar, 93.8% in the occupied area of Palestine, 93.1% in Jordan and 90.0% in the United Arab Emirates. Compare this to 55.6% in Morocco, 58.9% in Yemen, 60.9% in Sudan and 66.4% in Egypt. Six Arab states' literacy rates tend to fall between 70 and 80%. There are a number of reasons behind the high illiteracy rates especially in the most populated Arab states like Egypt, Morocco, Yemen and Sudan. First, not enough schools are built to accommodate the excessive population growth. The Egyptian Committee on Education, Scientific Research and Technology recommended in its report (2001) that the government should build 420,000 schools during the next 16 years (2001-2017) to meet the projected increase of students who will reach school-age. Unfortunately, since then only 18,000 schools have been constructed (alshrouk, 5/9/2010). This type of situation exists in a fairly large number of Arab states, which has lead to highly crowded classrooms as a result of such policy. In Egypt it has been estimated that the average classroom size exceeds 60 students. You can predict that in such a setting, the ability of students to learn and be motivated is very low. Furthermore, how can the average teacher perform or even pay attention to such a large number of students? Learning is a very difficult task in this situation, which contributes to the student dropout rate. Crowded classrooms are not only prevalent in public schools, but can also be seen at the upper educational levels. Hundreds and even thousands of students are packed into university lecture halls and the number of students who stand due to lack of seating runs into the hundreds. This situation will not lead to learning or critical thinking. Another factor that I have witnessed is the physical environment of schools, which tends to be depressing. The lack of maintenance and the physical deterioration of school structures that should have been demolished or renovated are not conducive to learning. He deterioration in the quality of education led parents with financial ability to hire teachers to give private lessons to their children to ensure their passage from one level to another. It has been estimated that private tutoring costs exceed 15 billion Egyptian pounds a year. Private tutoring is widespread in the Arab world. In Egypt, according to a 2002 World Bank study, “private tuition accounted for fully 1.6% of GDP and other studies suggest it devours a whopping 20% of household spending in families with school-age children. A big reason why families are willing to spend so much is that the educational system relies heavily on national exams, not only for rating students but also for placing them in the various faculties of the state universities that still account for 85% of college enrollment.” (The Economist, July 17th, 2010).

In a number of Arab states, governments encourage foreign countries or private investors to build and operate schools. As of 2009, there were more than 5,118 privately run schools in Egypt. The student fees are very high and unaffordable for more than 80% of families to enroll their children in (almasry-alyoum, May 5, 2010).

It is also of interest to see that a significant number of new, private universities began to operate in Egypt since the 1990s. The majority of students who attend such institutions are the ones who were unable to get admission to state universities. The tuition is very high but the quality of education needs to be investigated. The impression I have gotten from some academic friends is that these institutions don’t have the required standard academic credibility. They were established by investors for profit making. The quality of education, even in state universities, is being questioned due to the lack of adequate financial funding by the government.

A prominent Egyptian academician, Dr. Farouk il-Baz, recently stated at an academic conference at the American University in Cairo that there has been a lack of interest on the part of officials in Egypt in promoting learning and scientific research at both the lower and upper academic levels during the past 30-40 years. He advised the responsible people in government to make the extra effort in allocating more resources to education to compensate for the shortages of financial support during previous years, which lead to the deterioration of the quality of education. The Egyptian educational system requires renovation and new direction to improve the quality of education at all levels. Without such policy, Egypt will continue to fall behind the advanced world (www.almasry-alyoum.com, March 18, 2010).

As long as population growth continues and the majority of Arab governments lack financial support for education, general knowledge and scientific know-how will not be attained. This will lead to further deterioration of Arab Human developments.

Furthermore, higher academic institutions in the Arab world in general should not be under governmental control. Universities should be independent entities in order to promote the development of knowledge, freedom of expression and critical thinking.

A year ago, two ex-ministers of higher education stated publicly that, “the lack of independence of universities is a major contributing factor behind the deterioration of academic progress and innovation. The appointment of presidents of universities by government officials contributes to the absence of objectivity and evaluations of its faculties” (www.almasry-alyoum, 10/18/09).

Jul 24, 2010

Population Growth and the Shortage of Food

In the previous post, references were made to the rapid increase of population in the Arab world. The negative consequences of this growth are reflected in several important economic and social sectors of Arab society. First, the Arab world is classified as non-sufficient in food production and relies heavily on food imports to meet its basic needs. In 2009, the Arab world imported food at a cost of more than $31 billion. This cost will more than double during the next 20-25 years, especially if population growth continues at the same rate. For example, Egypt, the most populated country in the region, with 82 million people, imported 70% of its basic food needs. Many Arab states, especially the most populated ones, are not far away in food import like Egypt. Keep in mind that the world demand for food, especially in the developing nations of Africa and Asia, is also increasing and this will lead to price increases of food globally. It is interesting to note that the cost of food imported in the Arab world in 1970 was equal to $2.1 billion. During the past four decades, the cost of food imported increased by more than 15 fold.

There are several factors that contribute to the lack of increasing food productivity in the Arab world. One factor is the meager financial investment in the agricultural sectors in various Arab states. Also, the lack of knowledge and scientific research in the agricultural sector do not provide the “know how” in many Arab countries in terms of improving agricultural productivity.

Secondly, more than two-thirds of Arab land is classified as barren desert and is unsuitable for cultivation. Of the less than one-third of the land that is under cultivation, 85% depends on the annual rainfall. Most of it takes place along the seashore land in the region. Furthermore, the region has been experiencing droughts with longer duration that have lead to a lower agricultural productivity. The other 15% of the land depends on irrigation from the flowing water of the Nile and the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The three major rivers start beyond the national boundaries of the Arab world. It is also of interest to note that the flow of water of the three rivers is now creating tension.
An example is Egypt’s recent conflict with the Nile River basin countries because of water sharing, which has been covered in the news. Also, Syria and Iraq have been talking with Turkey regarding the slowing of water flow in both the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers due to the construction of dams in Turkey. Iraq, which has been impacted more than Syria, began to rely more on food imports, which is a reversal of its former role of being a food exporter.

The third factor that also negatively impacts agricultural cultivation in the Arab world is the global weather changes and the increase in temperature. This has lead to an increase in dryness and droughts in the Middle East and North African region. Such situations are increasing the possibility of further desertification of the region.

The fourth factor, which has also contributed to lower food productivity in the Arab world is also attributed to the scarcity of water. In previous posts we have noted that 19 of the 22 Arab states are classified as water poverty stricken. In conclusion, the population growth in the Arab world needs to be curtailed in order for future generations to survive.

Jul 22, 2010

Population Explosion in the Arab World

Population growth in the Arab world has been increasing steadily and creating difficulties for economic development, especially in the most populated states.

As of 2009, Arab population exceeded 350 million people. If the rate of growth continues, it is projected to reach 400 million people by the year 2015 and 650 million by the year 2030.

However, the population growth rate varies from state to state. It fluctuates from 3.69% to .98%. The United Arab Emirates have the highest growth rate (3.69%) with a population size of 4,599,000 people. They also have one of the highest GDP (PPP) in the region: $54.433 per person per year. The state of Oman ranked second with a rate of growth of 3.14% and a population size of 2,845,000 people. Its GDP is above the average of $22.816.

Jordan ranked third with a rate of growth of 3.04% and a population size of 6,316,000 people. It has a high population density and low GDP, which is $4,901 per person per year.

There are ten Arab states with a population growth rate between 2.0% and 2.97%. Egypt has a rate of growth of 2.03% and a population size of 82 million people. Its GDP, $5,138 per person per year. Yemen has a rate of growth of 2.97% and a population size of23,586,000 people. its GDP is among the very lowest at $2.335 per person per year. Eight states fall between Egypt and Yemen in terms of rates of population growth. However, their GDP varies from $2,000 – $600 per person per year for these states. The rest of the Arab states (8) have rates of population growth that vary from 1.9%-0.98%. Tunisia has the lowest population growth rate, which is 0.98% and a population size of 10,432,500 people. Its GDP is $7,520 per person per year. Tunisia is among the few states that implemented a successful family planning and birth control program several decades ago. In a previous post a reference was made to Egypt’s family planning and birth control program, which was officially implemented decades before Tunisia but so far has turned out to be a failure.

Jordan just recently adopted a family planning and birth control program with an aim of lowering its birth rate to 2.5 babies per woman by the year 2017 and 2.1 babies per woman by 2030. The present rate is 3.6 babies per woman (www.aljazeera.net, 7/17/2010). Nevertheless, the second lowest population growth rate, 1% is in Lebanon, which has a population size of 4,224,000 people and a GDP of $10,109 per person per year.

The GDP (PPP) in the Arab world reflects a big gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”. The gap fluctuates from $74,882 in Qatar with a population of 1,409,000 people to Somalia’s GDP of $600 per person per year and a population size of 10,112,453.

For comparative purposes, the U.S.A GDP is $46,400 per person per year.

The highest GDP (PPP) in the Arab world is reflected in the Arab oil producing countries of the Gulf region. This situation reflects a wide gap in terms of the distribution of wealth in the Arab world. These countries also have a low population size and population density by comparison to the rest of the states in the Arab world. The negative consequences of both the uneven distribution of wealth and the high rates of population growth have produced instabilities and a grim future outlook, especially for the younger generations. In the following post, emphasis will be placed on the impact of population growth on food production, scarcity of water resources, education and the high rates of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty, the shortage of housing, and crowded transportation systems.

*All statistics were used based on U.N. demographic data, World Bank and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s records.

Jul 16, 2010

International Population Day

The United Nations just celebrated International Population Day (7/11/2010) and issued its annual demographic report. The report revealed that Egypt ranked number ten in terms of its population growth and fourteenth in terms of population density.

Recently, the Egyptian Prime Minister Dr. Ahmad Natheef, noted that birth rates doubled in 2008 to reach two million new born. Furthermore, he said that Egypt’s population in 1979 was 40 million and in 2008 reached 80 million. He continued to elaborate that the government’s strategy is clearly to control the population growth by providing the necessary means to implement that policy and to convince parents to limit their number of children to two. However, the Minister of Health, Dr. Hatem Jebali, noted that the government has failed to reach its goal in terms of population growth.

The new government strategy of family planning and birth control is to achieve the 2.2 babies per family by the year 2017, which are 3 new born per family at the present time. (al masry al youm 9/12/10)

Family planning and birth control have a long history in Egypt. It began during the 1930s when the population size was 15,921.000 according to the 1937 census; however, more government emphasis was placed on family planning and birth control since the 1952 revolution.

During the past sixty years, every president from Nasser to Saddat and Mubarak made family planning and birth control the cornerstones of their policies. Regretfully, and despite government policy, Egypt’s population continues to grow and is expected to reach $125 million by the year 2030.

Even if the Egyptian government will succeed in limiting birth rate to two children per family, from a demographic theoretical point of view it will take nearly fifty years for Egypt population to stabilize that is where the birth rate will equal the death rate. The chances for this to happen are very slim.

Jul 15, 2010

Corruption in the Private and Public Sectors in the Arab world

The organization of Arab managements and economic development met in Cairo (7/5/2010) to discuss corruption in both the public and private sectors. Twenty-three government officials and more than two hundred experts participated in the discussion that will lead to a strategy to be implemented to combat corruption.

Dr. A. Khiyat, the director, noted hat the Arab world, during the second half of the 20th century (1950-2000) has lost one third (or one trillion dollars) of its national income, which was estimated at three trillion dollars, due to the deep rooted corruption in both the public and private sectors. The second one third (one trillion dollars) was spent on armaments and the third trillion was spent on basic infrastructures, education, health care and economic development.

Experts at the meeting pointed out that corruption exists at all governmental levels to include cabinet ministers, high government politicians and members of the elected parliaments. While the meeting was in secession, the Jordanian military court has sentenced four high government officials to three years in prison for bribes. The cost of corruption in the Arab world has delayed true economic development and contributed to a high unemployment rate, which prevails in most Arab states, especially in the highly populated ones. Furthermore, corruption also contributed to the deterioration of the quality of education at both the upper and the lower levels. The lack of scientific research and the high illiteracy rate created barriers to economic development during the past six decades. Corruption has led to an increase in poverty and has deprived the average Arab citizen of an annual increase of nearly $200, according to the reported analysis of the meeting.

The main factors that fed the growth of corruption in the Arab states are attributed to the absence of democracy, transparency and accountability. Not a single Arab state could be classified as a democratic one. However, the degree of authoritarian rules varies from state to state. The harsher the rulers, the higher the level of corruption in their states. The International Transparency Organization, in its recent evaluation of democracy and transparency scale of 189 governments reflects that in the Arab world Qatar ranked as 22 and the Emirates ranked 30. Saudi Arabia ranked 63, Egypt and Algeria ranked as 111, and Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia were placed at the bottom of the scale. By comparison, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and Singapore were ranked number one. These states are democratic, with a full transparency and accountability system (www.aljazeera.net, 7/6/2010).

The Arab public officials who met to develop a new strategy to combat corruption are wasting their time. Although each Arab state has laws to prosecute those who break the rules these laws are not imposed on some high public officials. This situation will continue until a democratic system replaces the system of dictatorship and both public and private officials are held accountable.

Jul 9, 2010

Israel’s Usurpation of Arab Water

At a conference of the Arab League (7/1/2010), water and irrigation ministers from Arab states declared that water scarcity in the region is the most dangerous challenge facing the Arab world. They pointed out that water is an issue of national security. According to the water strategy, which was discussed, one issue focused on the water stolen by Israel from its Arab neighbors. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank’s water were targets of water theft by Israel during the past fifty years (almasry-alyoum, 7/2/2010).

Since its creation, the Israeli government has been implementing a policy of expansion as a part of its Zionist ideology and in particular the control of water resources of its Arab neighbors.

In an article in the Middle East (June 2010), Ed Blanche noted that, “Half the water Israel consumed is taken from its neighbors, the Palestinians, the Golan Heights of Syria, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. Also, Israel converted Litani River in Southern Lebanon, which is 3 km. from Israeli borders by pipelines into Israel’s hydraulic network … furthermore, the Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 were motivated by the desire to control water resources.”

In previous posts, I have pointed out that Israel diverted the Jordan River’s water to Israel during the 1950s and 1960s. At the present, the Jordan River is drying out and the water flows that used to irrigate more than 30,000 acres of agricultural land has been stopped. In addition, the lack of water flow of the river into the Dead Sea has also stopped and this has lead to a rapid decline of sea water level that has already reached a dangerous point.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. government, under President Eisenhower, warned Israel to stop the diversion of the Jordan River water into Israel, but the government ignored the U.S. warning. American foreign aid to Israel was frozen for two years, but then was resumed and the Israeli water diversion continued. The U.S. government volunteered to help Jordan by constructing the East Ghor Canal, which is parallel to the Jordan River, to irrigate 30,000 acres of Jordanian agricultural land. These lands used to contribute 40% of the country’s agricultural produce. The canal was built at a cost of $15 million by the U.S. aid program. The canal stretches around 68 km. and was supposed to siphon water from the Yarmouk River, which starts in Syria and flows into the Jordan River. Unfortunately, the canal was destroyed by Israeli planes that were given to them by the U.S. and were not supposed to be used for anything other than self-defense.

The Jordanian government committed a big mistake by signing the peace agreement with Israel. It should have insisted that Israel first divert the water back to the Jordan River, which was classified as an international water way. Israel is an aggressive state that has no respect for international law, which is reflected through its military actions since its creation. Israel should not be trusted.

Further evidence of Israeli aggression is reflected also in the occupied Palestinian lands. It annexed 42% of the West Bank, especially where the underground aquifer water resources are located. The Israeli government implemented a harsh policy of water availability to the Palestinians. Also, it prevented them from digging their own water wells for their needed drinking water.

Amnesty International accused the Israeli government of denying Palestinians of their water needs. Israel controlled water resources in the occupied land. According to the report, Israel used 80% of the West Bank aquifer, which is the only underground water source and allocated only 20% of the water to the Palestinians. This translates into 300 liters of water per Israeli per day and only 70 liters of water per Palestinian per day (www.aljazeera.net, 10/31/2009).

Twenty Israeli human rights and legal organizations stated that, “The Israeli occupation of the West Bank in particular and Hebron and other areas deprived the Palestinian of their water needs as a means of ethnic cleansing.” These Israeli organizations have confirmed that the Israeli government has issued court orders of home destruction and denying the residents fresh water to drink under the excuse that the areas have been designated as military zones for security purposes. The Israeli Amnesty organizations revealed that Jewish settlements within a few kilometers from Palestinian villages are connected with water piped network. In addition, these Jewish settlers consume water at the rate of 236 liters of water per person per day, compared to less than 15 liters of water per Palestinian per day. Israeli amnesty organizations condemned the Israeli policy and noted that it is in violation of human moral ethics as well as international law (www.aljazeera.net, 10/31/2009).

The Israeli government has lost its ethical and moral values and has also violated international law as well as the UN Cha

Jul 8, 2010

Who Calls the Tune For U.S. Policy in the Middle East?

Yosi Beilin, an Israeli ex-cabinet minister said, in an article from the New York Times (6/28/10), “Let Jordan enrich its own uranium.” He noted that, “Israel is creating a new enemy for itself, the kingdom of Jordan … we do not need to lose the only Arab state with which we have peace-like relations.”

In a previous post I clearly stated that the government of Jordan should not yield to pressure by the American government to not enrich its own uranium for its nuclear reactor. The American government wants Jordan to buy the enriched fuel for its reactors. Mr. Beilin and I share the same rationale, that the recent discovery of more than 65,000 tons of uranium ore in Jordan will facilitate the nuclear reactor operation and save the country money, which is badly needed for other purpose. The Jordanian government has also declared publicly that the nuclear reactor is a public and private operation tot provide the needed transparency.

Furthermore, Jordan has been importing its fossil fuel from its Arab neighbors, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The future production of energy from the nuclear reactor will provide a great deal of financial help to the Jordanian economy, which is under heavy foreign debt. Also, the future energy production will help Jordan to desalinate water from the Red Sea for its pressing shortages of fresh water. Also, part of the water will be used to cultivate some of the more than 30,000 acres of land along the Eastern side of the Jordan River. The land used to be irrigated from the Jordan River until Israel diverted more than 90% of its water to Israel in violation of international law.

Jordan should have never signed the peace treaty with Israel until it reverses the flow of the Jordan River back to its natural flow. Israel politicians are unworthy of the trust and always depend on their military power rather than rational judgment.

This tragic political behavior is attributed to the two main factors. The first is the Zionist expansionist policy, which has been the main force behind Israeli aggressions since the creation of the state in 1948. The second factor is the total military and political support by the U.S. of Israel. Regardless of what Israeli politicians do, even when they violate international law and commit all sorts of atrocities, the U.S. government jumps to provide an umbrella of protection, even when this hurts America’s national interests. Such blind support enables the Israeli politicians to act above the law. Israel can count on at least 75% of the U.S. members of Congress to support Israel, regardless of the issue. Ex-Senator Fritz Holling stated clearly that the U.S. Congress will implement what the Israeli’s demand from them without questions asked.

The U.S. government pressure on Jordan not to enrich its own uranium for its peaceful use is attributed to the Israeli pressure on the U.S. government. It is no longer a hidden fact that the Israeli government has adopted a policy for more than fifty years to prevent Arab states from acquiring nuclear technology. I have pointed out in previous posts that Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and the Syrian nuclear facilities in 2007. Furthermore, they have been applying a great deal of pressure on the U.S. government in particular and the West in general to prevent Iran from enriching their own uranium. Israel even states publicly that they will bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities if they don’t stop their uranium enrichment. It will come as no surprise if the Israelis will push the U.S. to get into a war with Iran. Who will end up paying the price for Israeli political adventures? On the other hand, if the Israelis are so terrified of weapons of mass destruction, then they should accept the Egyptian proposal to turn the Middle East region into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Israel will never surrender its nuclear arsenal because it wants to maintain its military superiority in the region.

Jul 6, 2010

Water Scarcity in the Arab World

An Arab League Conference was held in Cairo (7/1/2010) to discuss and develop a strategy to secure and protect water resources in the Arab world. The new strategy also includes coordination with neighboring countries to face the increasing challenges of water scarcity in the Arab world.

Water specialists at the meeting stressed the fact that 19 out of the 22 Arab states are classified as water poverty-stricken. They warned that the availability of water will drop to 500 cu. met. per person per year, while the minimum requirement is 1000 cu. met. per person per year.

The Arab world contains only 1% of the service water in the world and only 2% of the rainfall. Furthermore, 70% of the service water comes from rivers that start beyond the national borders of these countries. The land area of the Arab world is only 15% of the global land area. Only 30% of the land in the Arab world is suitable for cultivation and even this part is being threatened by desertification due to global weather changes.

It has been estimated that the amount of fresh water available in the Arab world is equal to 340 billion cu. met. and only 50% of it is used and the rest is wasted. According to water experts in the Arab world, 80% of the water is used for agricultural cultivation and it is not producing enough food to meet the increasing demand for consumption. For example, Egypt, the most populated country in the Arab world (83 million people) imports 60% of its wheat. As of the present (2010), not a single Arab country could be classified as self sufficient in food production. Demographers already predict that the present Arab population, which is around 345 million people, will nearly double in the next 25 years to reach 650 million people. At the Arab league meeting of Water and Irrigation Management, Mr. Amr Mousa, the director, urged the participants to start planning the construction of nuclear plants to desalinate water to meet the challenges facing the Arab world.

Jul 1, 2010

The Nile River Water Conflict

The Nile River basin countries meetings with Sudan and Egypt in Adis-Ababa ended June 27, 2010 without reaching an agreement on water sharing. Both Egypt and Sudan still refused to accept the new treaty that was signed by five members rejecting the 1929 and 1959 Nile Water sharing agreement. Representatives from international organizations such as the World Bank and officials from countries that are willing to participated in the construction of dams to generate power and other agricultural development projects attended the meeting. Egypt and Sudan continue to insist that no project should be constructed that will decrease the flow of the Nile River water to both countries. The Nile is the lifeline for Egypt in particular, as it provides 95% of its water needs. The Nile River water flow from the South (Lake Victoria) to the North is more than 5,500 kilometers and Egypt is located at the end before it flows into the sea. Egypt and Sudan’s opposition to the newly proposed treaty is based on international law that focuses on international rivers, where water is shared by more than one country.

Water is a national security issue that might affect the survival of countries that depend on it. Again, a classic example is Egypt, where annual rainfall tends to be very meager, not exceeding 2 inches per year. The members of the Nile River agreed to meet in the fall of 2010 in Nyrobi, Kenya. This meeting will be attended by the prime ministers of these countries. In the meantime, the Egyptian government should set an example for other members in terms of water management. Several reports have reflected that more than 45% of the Nile River water reaching Egypt is wasted. The vast majority of villages in rural Egypt still lack water recycling systems. Furthermore, the Egyptian newspapers have been publishing articles with pictures as evidence of the misuse of the Nile River in rural areas. The river serves as a place for the washing of clothing and cooking utensils, in addition to the dumping ground for garbage. Even in many homes, dripping water from the faucet is not unusual, because it is cheaper than bringing a plumber to fix it. In general, Egyptians are clearly not aware of the dilemma of water shortages in their country. The government must conduct a national water awareness program to preserve and keep water resources clean. Their life in the near future depends on it, especially n light of the continuous growth of the population, which has been estimated at 2.3 million people per year.