War for Water

When the next Arab-Israeli war will start, this is the most talked about subject among the geo-political and military strategists of the West Asia. The question is: Why such a war will at all start when the combined strength of the Arab countries is no match to that of Israel? Israel is estimated to have as many as 400 atomic and hydrogen bombs. Enver Masud in his book ‘The War on Islam quoting Toronto Sun wrote: The Israeli Air Force has three squadrons equipped with Jericho nuclear-tipped missiles at the Sedot Mikha base, some 45 km south of Tel Aviv. The Jericho’s can reach all major Arab cities and even such Muslim countries as Morocco, Iran and Pakistan [Enver Masud, The War on Islam, Madrasah Books, The Wisdom Fund, Arligonton, VA 22202,USA,  pp55-56].

No doubt a nuclear war in the Middle East is most unlikely for several reasons. Israel is not in a position to use nuclear weapons in any regional conflict between her and the neighboring Arab states because such a strike would affect Israel in the same manner as Beirut, Damascus, Amman and Cairo which all fall within a radius of 250 miles from Tel Aviv. Furthermore, Israel is situated in close proximity to Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and Turkey and any use of nuclear weapons would have an adverse effect on her as also these countries. US would not possibly agree with the Israel to use nuclear weapons as it would threaten the vital economic interest of the West in the region and likely to bear upon Israel all the economic, political and military influence deterring her from such disastrous action.

Israel is fully aware of the position of Washington in this regard but she has the reputation of blackmailing the neighbors by using the bogey of nuclear war. In 1973 war, Israel in the first three days of the war lost five hundred tanks and forty-nine aircraft, including fourteen F-4 Phantoms. In the Sinai, Egyptian forces, equipped with missiles and electronic defenses, blasted through the Bar-Lev defense line along the eastern bank of the canal and soon had two large armies on the eastern bank. The initial Israeli counterattacks by three tank divisions were beaten off. On the Golan Heights, Syrian forces, bolstered by fourteen hundred tanks, rolled through Israeli defenses and moved to the edge of Galilee. Only a few Israeli tanks stood between the Syrians and the heavily populated Hulla Valley. Haifa was just hours away. The then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s assessment was: “The situation is desperate. Everything is lost. We must withdraw”. It was Israel’s darkest hour, but no withdrawal was ordered. Instead, Israel called its first nuclear alert and began arming its nuclear arsenal. And Israel used that alert to blackmail Washington into a major policy change, wrote Seymour M. Hersh in his book ‘The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy’ [Seymour M. Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, Random House, New York, First Edition, 1991, pp 222-223].

Political analysts, though excluded the possibility of nuclear war in the Middle East, however did not rule out the option of conventional war in the West Asia. Such a war, according to the geo-military experts, can take place any time in the region and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is on record to have said in 1979 that “the only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water”[Enver Masud, The War on Islam, Madrasah Books, The Wisdom Fund, Arligonton, VA 22202,USA,  p25] and former UN Secretary General Boutrous  Ghali in 1988 expressed his apprehension that “the next war in our region will be over waters of the Nile” [ibid] .

According to the Water Resources Research and Development Agency, GreenCross, the Middle East region while accounting for five percent of the world’s population has approximately one percent of the world’s freshwater.

Occupied Palestine suffers from a naturally arid climate with few freshwater resources. Non-renewable groundwater, low annual rainfall, and only the Jordan River, and a tributary the Yarmouk River, comprise the sources for usable water for 12 million or so inhabitants of the region. Eighty percent of this water is used for irrigation to sustain agriculture. The water is running out simply because of the settlement of the immigrant Jews in the occupied Palestine, an artificial growth of the local population by the machination of the surrogate state of Israel.

The population of the Israel has reached to six million. The problem is not a real lack of sufficient regional water resources. On the contrary, for centuries, there has been enough water to meet the needs of the indigenous Arab population. It is estimated that the available water could sustain between four to five million people. This means that Israel, with its population alone, now exceeds the available freshwater resources of the region by about one million people. This, of course, is excluding the needs of the indigenous people, namely, the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Syrians and the Lebanese.

The entire region will soon run short of water and the consumption of the immigrant Jews are more than the indigenous Arabs and Palestinians. Israel consumes, per capita, about three and a half times as much water as does Jordan, and about thirty times as much as Gaza. In this backdrop, Israel will soon face acute water shortage. How Israel can face this problem? Indeed a problem of survival. Israeli leadership is considering several options.

The option which the leadership of Israel is considering is expulsion of the Palestinians and occupation of the entire Palestine with the exclusion of Jordan, the later being a US ‘satellite’. Such an action by Israel might find resistance in Europe and even in US.

Israel has recently approved highly expensive desalination plants by which water from sea could be purified for use and consumption. This seems to be highly ambitious and financially not viable.

Diverting water from agriculture but this will further increase Israel dependence on international (mostly US) assistance for survival of its economy and make it more dependent on US for its defense requirement.

Israel is considering the possibility of importing water, transporting water to the shores of Israel. Newspapers in April 2000 reported that little tugboats are seen carrying large plastic bubbles full of water from Turkey for use in Israel.

Israel is also considering constructing a pipeline beneath the Suez Canal to bring water from Nile River of Egypt. This impracticable hope, however, overlooks the fact that approximately 97 percent of the water of Egypt originates outside its borders and there are some nine other countries, approximately 140 million people upstream from Egypt, which utilize water from Nile Basin. Ethiopia and Sudan, for instance, have already constructed expensive dams to meet the need of their increasing population that has already decreased the water flow to Egypt. Enver Masud quoting unnamed Kenyan hydrological expert in Tanzania confirmed the truth of such secret studies by Israel [ibid p 24]. Masud believes that Egypt, an American outpost, may be persuaded to surrender in lieu of reward by US. He, however, doubts whether Sudan will agree to surrender to Israel-US pressure. The recent interference by the US, UK and other western countries in the internal affairs of Sudan in the name of violation human rights in Darfur region’s sectarian strife should be seen in this backdrop, intervention by powers that do not seem to have a benign interest in the prosperity and stability of this largest Arab-African country.

The Kurdish region in Turkey is straddle on both sides by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. The region is rich in water resources. The previous government of Turkey, due to internal pressure of the pro-western Turkish army and at the behest of US-Israel, began an unprecedented $25 billion waterworks project to secure control, through a series of dams and hydroelectric plants, of both vitally important rivers.  

Israel believes an ultra-secular Turkey might be interested to share water of this region with Israel with direct pipeline. The plan also includes a symbolic distribution of water to Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians to appease the Arabs of the region and to camouflage real intention of diverting Kurdi-Turkish water to Israel. US after the occupation of Iraq, however, gave up the initial plan to create an independent Kurdish state by slashing a part of Iraq, Syria and Turkey because of the fear that sunni dominated Kurdish state might work against the Israel-US interest in the region. Such a government might threaten, if not nullify, Turkish control of the waterworks and consequently, of the Tigris and Euphrates. Israel-US also is not feeling very comfortable with the current Turkish Government of Tayep Erdogan which is basically committed to protect Muslim interests. Israel is now apprehending that its hope to get water from mainland Turkey through pipeline might not materialize as long as the current political leadership is in power in Turkey.  

UN, about  five years back, warned that the countries of the Middle East must find out alternative source of water by 2025 or face complete resource exhaustion and irreversible drought. Political analysts and geo-military strategists believe that if Israel fails to get water from such sources as Nile of Egypt or from Tigris-Euphrates Rivers of Turkey-Iraq, she (Israel) will impose war in the region to have direct access on the water sources. This will also materialize the Zionist dream of “Greater Israel” with the borders of the ancient Kingdom of Judea. Some analysts believe that the objective of the US occupation of Iraq is not only to control oil but also to control water of the region.   

The only thing that can exclude the possibility of war in the West Asia is cooperation among the countries of the region with Israel for sharing water of the region which is a distant possibility keeping in view the attitude of the Israeli leadership towards the Palestinians and Israel’s reluctance to implement the UN resolutions that demands evacuation of all territories occupied Six Day War in 1967  including Golan Heights, the rights of the Palestinian  refugees to return to their homeland and recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital. The chance of war in the Middle East is likely to diminish if Israel can invent cheap technology for desalination of sea water for use and consumption.