Σημ.: Όσοι έχουν μελετήσει ζητήματα της Μέσης Ανατολής γνωρίζουν ότι το νερό είναι ένας από τους σημαντικότερους στρατηγικούς παράγοντες και σημαντική παράμετρος στις περιφερειακές διενέξεις. Η ανάλυση αυτή εξετάζει μερικές πτυχές συμπεριλαμβανομένων των προβλημάτων λόγω της εξάπλωσης των πολεμιστών του «ισλαμικού κράτους».
Since 2009, Strategic Foresight Group has been committed to finding collaborative solutions to transboundary water problems in the Middle East. With our growing engagement in the region, we are being increasingly made aware of the need to address the real victims of scarcity and conflict over water. These are vulnerable and marginalised communities who do not have carrying capacity to manage water related disasters. This paper examines the problems of populations made vulnerable by the abuse of water as a weapon or as a target in violent conflicts. In the past, some of the state agencies and combatant forces in the region have destroyed water infrastructure. Since 2014, ISIS, a new terrorist group active in Iraq and Syria has shown propensity to use water resources and infrastructure to achieve its illegitimate objectives. In the process thousands of innocent people have been pushed into misery. This month, we are also bringing out another paper – The Hydro-insecure – which examines economic, social and gender related factors leading to water vulnerability. As this paper concentrates on military and militant tactics, together the two papers map a wide range of factors underpinning the crisis of survival in the Middle East. We are grateful to HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan for encouraging us to address the plight of vulnerable populations in the Middle East. Besides, many senior government officials, Members of Parliament, and media leaders from the region urged us to use our neutrality to undertake a dispassionate analysis of difficult social, economic, political and security environment from the perspective of the hydro insecure. We are humbled by the trust reposed in us by decision makers and opinion makers from all parts of the Middle East. We must also express our gratitude to Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) for supporting this endeavour. Sida has been a long and constructive partner of the Strategic Foresight Group ever since we decided to respond to requests from the Middle East to facilitate search for solutions almost half a decade ago. This paper emphasises that the abuse of water as a weapon or a target in violent conflicts is not an issue limited to the Middle East. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers are cradles of civilization. Any effort to take illegitimate control by force of these water courses which have seen the evolution of human civilization for millennia should be treated as a crime against humanity. Undoubtedly the primary responsibility to respond to the challenges pressed by non-state violent groups such as ISIS rests with the countries in the region. However, the international community cannot ignore a developing tragedy. The paper explores possible options for the United Nations and other international actors. Preface i Considering the long term and wide implications of the issues raised in the paper, we fervently hope that leaders and experts in the region as well as outside will discuss our analysis and recommendations.
Sundeep Waslekar, President Strategic Foresight Group Mumbai, December 2014
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