Transboundary water a tool for peace in Middle East: Experts

MEHMET ÇELIK @celik
AMMAN, Jordan
Published

Transboundary water in the Middle East can be used as a means for cooperation and peace-building, according to a group of international experts on water management who spoke during a conference in Amman, Jordan held from Feb. 22-23

Co-hosted by the Strategic Foresight Group and El Majlis El Hassan in cooperation with the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan and the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (SIDA) under the patronage of HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, the conference titled "Round Table on New Architecture for the Middle East" addressed the regional need for a sustainable water management system based on cooperation among the participating countries.

During the opening session of the conference, Jordanian Prince Hassan bin Talal explained that there was an urgent need for new architectural developments in the Middle East to focus primarily on human dignity, adding that steps must be taken to shift the focus of rhetoric from political divisiveness to policy implementation, particularly in the Levant region of the Middle East.

The prince further urged countries sharing waters across geographical borders to go beyond the commercial and nationalist view of water management to establish a cooperative mindset in the effective management of regional waters. Furthermore, he said that a regional water council for the oversight of sustainable water management should be established in the region.

Experts, including lawmakers, academics, diplomats and journalists from the Middle East also emphasized that water has been also used as a weapon by terror groups in the region and that protective measures should be taken to prevent water resources from becoming a tool for terrorism.

Reha Denemeç, a senior adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said that before moving forward in any negotiations between countries in the region regarding the issue, confidence must be established between neighboring countries. He further added that economic relations must be enhanced between the aforementioned countries to make political relations more effective and to strengthen peace-building efforts.

Founded in 2002, the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) think tank based in Mumbai, India focuses on global foresight, water diplomacy, peace, conflict and terrorism. Currently led by Sundeep Waslekar, the SFG also established a Water Cooperation Quotient, a tool that predicts the prospects of war or peace on the basis of religion, ideology and military elements, in the context of transboundary water cooperation.

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