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Scenario I Business as Usual
The Middle East in 2025 is reminiscent of present day situation. This is because after 20 years, very little has changed. The levels of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians remains low, plagued by cycles of violence followed by periods of quiet but not real peace. The lack of progress between Israel and Palestinians affects levels of cooperation between Jordanians and Israelis as well. Jordan’s relationship with Israel remains low key and secretive, while Jordan’s relationship with Palestinians is cold and distrustful. The lack of cooperation creates short-term thinking on all sides. Israel, Jordan, and Palestinians compete for water resources, through over pumping and ill-conceived water projects. Agriculture continues to be protected and receive water at below market prices compounding water stress in region. The economies in area remain sluggish, though world economy is bouncing back after years of slow growth. The level of Dead Sea is back on rise, however, environmental consequences of ”Red-Dead Conduit” have yet to be fully digested. The gypsum precipitation caused by mixing of sulfate rich Red Sea water with calcium rich Dead Sea water has whitened surface of Dead Sea and is having an impact on climate in basin. The Sea of Galilee continues to be endangered by over pumping and Jordan River is nothing more than an open sewage canal.
Scenario II A Water Stressed Out Middle East
While a Water Stressed Out Middle East may look similar to Scenario I, this scenario describes a Middle East in year 2025 that is ready to explode. Cooperation remains low as in previous scenario, and role of agriculture remains central, however, without large addition of desalinated water from ”Red-Dead Conduit”, water stress in region is reaching unsustainable levels. Something has to give way. Israel, Jordan, and Palestine seem to be heading for an outright conflict over water in region. The countries must either increase level of cooperation allowing for a more efficient and equitable use of water resources or vastly reduce role of agriculture in region in order to avoid oncoming conflict. The level of Dead Sea is at an all time low, and still sinking. Large ecological systems around shores of Dead Sea have been destroyed. The continued violence in Middle East, combined with sinkholes and a quickly receding shoreline, has decimated tourism in area. A lack of water for irrigation has turned farming villages on Israeli and Jordanian shores of Dead Sea into ghost towns. Jericho, oldest city in world, has lowest per capita water consumption in in world.
Scenario III A Low Impact Middle East
A Low Impact Middle East would require a break from present trends. In order to reach sustainability by year 2025, leadership in Middle East, as well as United States, found a way to break cycle of violence, which had plagued area for last 100 years. New levels of cooperation enabled countries in region to work together to find solutions to water stress and environmental problems. The countries looked for low impact solutions in order to create new water supplies while at same time recognizing need to limit agriculture to a more sustainable dimension. Low impact water systems such as rainwater harvesting, wastewater recycling, and efficient water delivery systems created new water without major adverse environmental effects. It was necessary to build a large number of desalination plants in order to provide water to growing population. However, decreased size of irrigated agriculture, climate appropriate crops, and improvement of irrigation systems in region meant that treated wastewater could serve as major source for water for farming. The level of Dead Sea is slowly rising. The decrease in use of fresh water from Sea of Galilee for Israel and Jordan has allowed Jordan River to once again flow with clean water into Dead Sea. Ecological systems that had been suffering for years in Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, and Dead Sea are slowly recovering. Tourism in area is flourishing, providing a boost to economies of all three nations. Ten years ago, in year 2015, leadership in Israel, Palestine, and United States brokered a Geneva-like peace agreement entailing a total Israeli withdrawal to recognized borders along ”Green Line” (’67 Armistice Line) except for certain areas for which Palestinians received one to one land compensation. Israeli settlements in West Bank were evacuated and handed over intact to new Palestinian state as a goodwill gesture from Israel. A number of Palestinian refugees returned to state of Palestine. Jerusalem is a divided city with Old City of Jerusalem under joint Palestinian/Israeli sovereignty. At White House agreement signing ceremony, United States President expressed satisfaction at being able to complete work of previous administrations in long struggle for a peaceful settlement in Middle East.
Scenario IV A Supply Managed Middle East
By year 2025, riparian nations around Dead Sea have begun to feel fruits of peace agreement reached 10 years earlier. Israel, Palestine, and Jordan are all three experiencing better than average growth rates. With strong economies, stable political environments, a warm climate, and a proximity to Europe, area has become attractive to international investors. Tourism and agriculture are two main destinations of international capital. The Dead Sea Basin has become a focus for building large hotels and resorts aimed at European market while all three nations are supplying more and more fresh fruits and vegetables to European markets. Water is key to continued economic progress in region and so, large water projects are a priority for both government and private investment. The “Peace” Conduit (Red-Dead Conduit) is providing 800 MCM of water annually to area but with rapid development of region, need for water continues to grow. Israel and Palestine are working together to increase their water supplies through large desalination projects of seawater and brackish water, dams in every available Wadi and wastewater recycling. Rapid economic growth, large water projects, and development of large tracts of land for agriculture are changing face of region. Pristine deserts, nature reserves, mountain Wadis, and Dead Sea itself are being transformed beyond recognition. While benefits of peace and development are clear, many are disturbed by loss of much of natural beauty and ecological systems. [Source]