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Drought is Leading to Instability and Water Weaponization in the Middle East and North Africa
By Marcus D. King with Rianna LeHane
Water stress is a growing problem worldwide. Overuse, population growth, and climate change are contributing to desperate conditions and violent extremist organizations (VEOs) are turning scarce water into a weapon. Nowhere is this trend more visible than in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region of critical importance to U.S. national security interests. The MENA region has long been prone to both cyclical and discrete periods of droughts. There is mounting evidence suggesting that climate change, by driving significant winter precipitation decline, is increasing the frequency and severity of these events.
Climate change impacts that affected Syria could be a harbinger for other countries in the region. The connection between climate change and Syrian instability was first raised by our colleagues Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell in 2012, and confirmed by climate scientist and Center for Climate and Security Senior Fellow, Colin P. Kelley, and his colleagues, who linked the consequential 2007-2010 drought to a long-term warming trend in the eastern Mediterranean (finding that the drought was made 2-3 times more likely due to climate change).. Drought conditions as well as poorly-designed and discriminatory water policies implemented by the Assad regime and the Alawite elite were also factors that contributed to societal instability at the onset of the Syrian civil war. The regional climate model ALADIN corroborates previous studies projecting that the MENA region will continue to be a global hotspot for drought into the late twenty-first century.(more…)
Gen. Middendorp and Bergema: How Climate Change Fuels Violent Extremism
In an article published yesterday on the anniversary of 9/11 by the IPI Global Observatory, General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands, and Reinier Bergema of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, highlight the links between climate change, water insecurity, and violent extremism – particularly in “Western, Central, and Eastern Africa, and several countries in the Middle East.” The article is part of an article series that the IPI Global Observatory is publishing in advance of Climate Week in New York (watch this space for more). Click here for the full article.
Webinar: Climate Risk Reduction at the National and Sub-National Scale
Register now for a webinar on Monday, Oct. 26, “Climate Risk Reduction at the National and Sub-National Scale,” hosted by Arizona State University’s Global Security Initiative. The webinar speakers include: David V. Adams, Director for Health Security and Climate Resilience Policy at the National Security Council, who will speak about the United States; Commander David Slayton USN (Ret.), research fellow with the Hoover Institute who will explore the Arctic; Swathi Veeravalli, scientist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who will touch on Central and South Asia; and Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, Founding Directors of the Center for Climate and Security, who will highlight the Middle East and North Africa. The webinar will be moderated by Chris Boone, Dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. See below for a full description of the webinar, and a link to register. (more…)
Thomas Friedman Cites the Center for Climate and Security on Extreme Weather in the Middle East and South Asia
New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman published an Op-ed today, “The World’s Hot Spot,” about the extreme heat waves plaguing the Middle East and South Asia, including Iran (citing AccuWeather’s Anthony Sagliani who stated that a July 31 reading in the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr was ‘…one of the most incredible temperature observations I have ever seen, and it is one of the most extreme readings ever in the world.’) The column explores political protests and sweeping changes in government, particularly in Iraq, which followed from the perceived inadequate response to the heat wave, and asks questions about whether or not enough attention is being paid to climatic events by the region’s political leaders.
Friedman cited the Center for Climate and Security’s Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, regarding how climate stresses are measured against other security risks, as well as how such extreme events can place significant strains on the social contract between governments and their respective publics. The full citation: (more…)