Manage water or face future shortages

In a comment piece for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat, Najeeb Musaab warned against future water shortages in the Arab world. "Arab counties are under a water stress line, and are likely to face by 2025 an acute scarcity."

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In a comment piece for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat, Najeeb Musaab warned against future water shortages in the Arab world. "Arab counties are under a water stress line, and are likely to face by 2025 an acute scarcity." Consumption per capita in some Arab states is among the highest in the world. And most of the water supply available - 80 per cent - goes for irrigation.

This situation is worsened by a conflict between pressing economic development and scarce water resources. Many countries in the region have developed tourist facilities, such as golf courses, that consume more than existing capacities, with no guarantee for sustaining these projects in the future. Other factors such as population increase and a declining of water supply because of pollution and climatic change will add to the water crisis. What is more, most water resources derive form sources outside the region, and major groundwater basins are shared.

What is needed now is to innovate water desalination technology and massively treat used water. Other innovative methods should be adopted, such as collecting rainwater in artificial lakes in mountainous areas and on house rooftops. No less important, efficient irrigation should be introduced based more on production per each cubic metre of water rather than per hectare of land.

The blasts that rocked Iraqi streets this week raised many questions about their timing, goals and perpetrators, observed the Saudi newspaper Al Watan in its editorial. With the approach of the elections, the situation is getting worse, with a few glimmers of hope for future settlements of accumulated problems on many levels: political, social, economic, or security. The turn of events in Iraq seems to be intentionally planned for. Behind the attacks could stand foreign powers strongly wishing to impede the course of the political process or to steer it in favour of their affiliates.

At the heart of these incidents and the futile political debate among various political forces lies an attempt to exclude the most important element of the Iraqi political landscape: the Iraqi people. As differences deepen, it is likely that the Iraqi crisis will enter a deadlock, possibly sending the whole political process - already staggering - back to square one. To overcome mistrust between political forces, and to prevent further foreign meddling, Iraq needs to quickly come up with a formula for reconciliation based on boosting citizenship rights and defending the country's integrity. This can only be possible, of course, through fair and free elections that guarantee the participation of all Iraqis.

The Syrian president Bashar al Assad was successful in drawing a picture close to reality about political life in Israel in an interview with The New Yorker magazine, wrote Mazen Hammad in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. Mr al Assad described the current group of Israeli politicians as being "like children fighting each other, messing with the country. They do not know what to do." The Syrian president made a distinction between peace and a peace treaty, explaining that an peace accord consists of the terms you agree upon and sign, but peace describes a time when you enjoy normal relations. In this sense, "you start with a peace treaty in order to achieve peace."

So in order for Israelis and Syrians to attain these goals, Israel must give the Golan Heights back to prepare the way for a peace treaty the Israelis expect. In other words, pointed out Mr al Assad, one starts with land, and not with peace. The Syrian president also underscored the fact that the Israelis, during their assault on Gaza, aimed at destroying Hamas and empowering the president of the Palestinian Authority, but ultimately it turned out the other way around. Al Assad concluded that in today's world, nothing can protect and serve Israel's interests better than peace.

"The welcome scene of the Palestinian leader Nabil Shaath in Gaza, the meetings held there and the statements made during his visit all came to bring some comfort and the possibility to end the long-standing animosity between the two major Palestinian wings," observed the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej in its editorial.

~While Palestinians and Arabs may regard this visit as a breakthrough, there is a likelihood, however, that this cannot fall within the context of national reconciliation. It is feared to be a kind of public relations tactics to "beautify" the attitude of each faction. So the question arises: "Is there any genuine move to reach an agreement and then reconciliation?" It is hard to answer this question because statements by leaders from the West Bank about Hamas raise suspicions that their intentions are not for true national reconciliation.

One can ask whether Mr Shaath had a mandate for reconciliatory efforts from the Palestinian Authority and Fatah. And if all goes well, will the US and Israel allow this to happen? "For this reason, Shaath's visit to Gaza should be cautiously considered as a breakthrough and optimism should be kept at a rational degree." * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi