Water is a prominent topic in discussions about the Middle East.

Fishing at the Chebayesh marsh in Dhi Qar province, Iraq, April 2019. Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

Yet media coverage, policy reports and scholarly works often fall into simplistic accounts of scarcity, imminent crisis and potential water wars. The first article in MERIP’s forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “Nature and Politics,” this primer in PDF format by Jessica Barnes offers a valuable introduction to the topic that challenges the dominant narratives. The primer interrogates the notion of water scarcity, outlines the challenges posed by climate change, explains the complexities of managing transboundary waters and discusses responses by policy makers.

Presented in accessible language and beautifully designed with photographs, a map and informative charts, MERIP hopes that this free special publication will be especially useful for educators and students.

Click this link to download and share the PDF:

Water in the Middle East: A Primer 





How to cite this article:

Jessica Barnes "Water in the Middle East: A Primer," Middle East Report Online, September 15, 2020.

For 50 years, MERIP has published critical analysis of Middle Eastern politics, history, and social justice not available in other publications. Our articles have debunked pernicious myths, exposed the human costs of war and conflict, and highlighted the suppression of basic human rights. After many years behind a paywall, our content is now open-access and free to anyone, anywhere in the world. Your donation ensures that MERIP can continue to remain an invaluable resource for everyone.


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