Five Exciting Developments from Across the Middle East in 2015

by Jessica Winegar | published January 6, 2016

Negative stories about the Middle East dominated Western news headlines in 2015. It’s easy for Americans, especially those who listen to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his supporters, to get the impression that the region is just one miserable homogeneous place of violence, terror, religious fanaticism and authoritarianism.

Syria's Drought and the Rise of a War Economy

by Omar S. Dahi | published April 14, 2014 - 11:19am

The grinding war in Syria brings new horrors with every passing week. The death toll and the number of displaced people continue to soar, as more areas of the country are reduced to rubble. This month, two additional issues with dire long-term consequences have been gaining attention: the possible drought affecting the northwest and the entrenchment of a war economy.

From the Editors

by Jeannie Sowers , Chris Toensing
published in MER254

The Middle East is running out of water.

Mediterranean Blues

Facing Environmental Crises

by Zeina al-Hajj
published in MER216

Under pressure to solve immediate economic problems, 
Middle Eastern countries seek to industrialize as 
quickly and as cheaply as possible. While developed countries around the world are very slowly adopting technologies and production methods that exert less pressure on the environment, Western industry at the same time sells its old, polluting technologies to less developed countries at cut-rate prices. Too often, the myopic drive for quick economic gains means that destruction is taken for development and deterioration for progress. Greenpeace and other international and local organizations are combating this mindset on several fronts.

Burning Trash

Mining for Fish

Privatization of the "Commons" Along Egypt's Northern Coastline

by Ray Bush , Amal Sabri
published in MER216

Around 10,000 of the estimated million people employed 
in Egypt’s fishing sector are based in ‘Izbat al-Burg, situated at the northernmost tip of the Nile’s Damietta Branch and bordered on the east by the vast Lake Manzala. As recently as nine years ago, Lake Manzala was a major fishing area and a collective asset for this community. Small-scale fishers used simple, cheap fishing boats and equipment, faring well alongside larger operators working in both lake and sea fishing. But at the turn of the century, the lake is no longer regarded as rizq (a source of livelihood). Increasingly, local fishers have been prevented from fishing in Manzala by state-licensed private enclosures that have virtually sealed off access to the lake’s northwestern shorelines.

From the Editor

published in MER216

As the western and southern United States sizzled in record heat this summer, a broad swath of the Middle East was suffering through the worst drought in memory. Through June and July, Middle Easterners sweltered in unusually high temperatures. In Morocco, where half the population works in agriculture, lack of rainfall has forced thousands of peasants into the overcrowded shantytowns around large cities. In Iran, precipitation has dropped by 25 percent in the last two years.