Friday, August 04, 2006

Water Issues in the Middle East

As part of the destruction of Lebanon, Israel bombed the Jiyyeh power station on the Lebanese coast creating an oil spill which will mean massive environmental destruction for decades. The spill is comparable in size to the Valdez Oil spill in Alaska. (more info)

According to the country’s environment minister:

“Chances are, our whole marine ecosystem facing the Lebanese shoreline is already dead,” Sarraf said. “What is at stake today is all marine life in the eastern Mediterranean.”

The oil so far has slicked about one-third of Lebanon’s coast, a 50-mile stretch centered on the Jiyeh plant 12 miles south of Beirut, said the country’s environment minister, Yaacoub Sarraf. It has also drifted out into the Mediterranean, already hitting neighboring Syria.


There has been speculation that the bombing of Lebanon is a all about the water. From an article at ENN"Where Are the World's Looming Water Conflicts?" (With a nod to Hecate for the find).

Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan rely on the River Jordan, which is fed by 3 rivers on the Syria-Lebanon border.

Disputes over diverting the river have spilled over into war in the past. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the 1967 Arab-Israeli war was started by Syrian plans to divert water from Israel. In 2002 he said the issue may start a new war.

The Jordon River has a tributary 5 km from the Litani River - and right now - it's the Litani River that Israel is going for.

More about the "Litani River Dispute":

Israel has considered diverting the Litani southward, first proposed in 1905 because it seemed "the waters of the Jordan basin would be insufficient for the future needs of Palestine."The Litani, because of its water, was suggested to become part of the "national Jewish entity" in 1919 but this was rejected by the League of Nations, and the Litani became part of Lebanon....

The entire basin of the Litani River is located within the borders of Lebanon. The river rises in the central part of the northern Biqa'a Valley, a short distance west of Baalbek and flows between the Lebanon mountain to the west and the anti-Lebanon mountains to the east, running south and southwestardly at its own pace. The river enters a gorge at Qarun, flows through it about 30 kilometers and, near Nabatiya and the Beaufort Castle, abruptly turns right (to the west), to break through the mountain range to the right, and continues to flow through the hilly terrain of the al-Amal region. North of Tyre, it empties into the Mediterranean.

The Litani River flows not far from Israel. The nearest part of the Litani to Israel is where the river turns by Nabatiya, four kilometers from Israel's border. The river's proximity to Israel may make it even more tempting for Israel to exploit. The Litani River is 170 kilometers long, with a basin of 2,290 square kilometers. A narrow ridge about 5 kilometers wide separates the Litani from the Hasbani River, a tributary of the Jordan River.


wes said...

That figures. It really didn't seem reasonable that Israel would be fighting this whole war over a couple captured soldiers.

It seems to me that the U.S. is being extremely hypocritical on the subject. If we want to establish ourselves as an international police force then we should do something about Israel. We would be much more justified in going in to blast the hell out of Israel than in our two previous conflicts. A police force isn't allowed to show favoritism to their friends... Of course I'm not advocating open war with Israel, but I think that in this case the threat of it would actually be enough to stop them. But instead Bush is shipping them more weapons to help them out. It seems like we're just trying to help them kill eachother... and once again, we're on the side of the bad guys.

meret said...

The US government and the Israeli government have definately joined forces. The US has backed up Israel since 1948, essentially. And then there is the $100+ billion that the US has given Israel since then.

Every now and then - the US pretends to be for peace - but it hasn't been very convincing. The "Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land" documentary has lots of info. Can see online:

And then a lot of people think that part of this conflict is about the US wanting to go to war with Iran and Syria - as part of their "New Middle East" plan that Rice was recently talking about.

Of course there has been the PNAC plan out there for awhile.