by Hana Namrouqa | Nov 25, 2013

AMMAN — Most countries in the Middle East are at risk of war because they have avoided regional cooperation in the water and other sectors, according to a new report.

The “Water Cooperation for a Secure World, Focus on the Middle East” report by Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) indicated that population growth, depletion of resources, environmental concerns and changes in the climate will worsen water stress in the region in the coming years, thus pushing cooperation further out of reach.

Although many agreements might have been signed amongst Middle East countries to regulate the use of trans-boundary water resources, active cooperation is missing, noted the report, which will be officially launched on Thursday at the Royal Scientific Society.

“There is an evident lack of willingness to seek active cooperation on shared water bodies amongst countries in the Middle East,” the report said.

To quantify the degree of cooperation between neighbouring countries, SFG has developed a water cooperation quotient, which was calculated using 10 parameters ranging from the presence of an agreement and commission, frequency of ministerial meetings, and technical and scientific projects to the actual functioning of the transboundary mechanism.

Countries with a shared water basin that have a high level of political commitment, economic cooperation, joint projects and infrastructure development rated high on the cooperation scale, according to the report.

Countries that only signed treaties or agreements and perhaps had a few technical projects without long-term political commitment were found to be at the bottom of the scale, including the Middle East.

“It was also found that certain countries would rate high on the cooperation quotient with one neighbour, while faring low with other neighbouring countries,” the report indicated.

The water cooperation quotient is a tool that can be employed by countries aiming to achieve or improve active and sustainable water cooperation with their neighbours, the report suggested, adding that the quotient parameters can form a benchmark for transboundary water cooperation that will lead to regional security and cooperation on other fronts.

The report said that neighbours aiming to achieve water cooperation should strive for a quotient of 50 per cent or more, indicating that Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Turkey and the Palestinian Territories all have cooperation quotients of less than 11 per cent with almost all their neighbours.—-report