Gulf of Aqaba, saved by NATO?

This is a video, not of a ‘shark whale’, but of a whale shark, near Eilat, Israel.

From the Underwater Times:

Israeli-Jordanian Project Bridges The Political Divide Across The Gulf Of Aqaba; ‘No Customs, No Passports, No Police’ News Service

August 25, 2009 20:58 EST

PALO ALTO, California — Scientists from Stanford University have teamed up with Israeli and Jordanian researchers to protect the Gulf of Aqaba, a strategic waterway whose fragile marine ecosystem is vital to both Israel and Jordan. Participants in the NATO-funded project say they are bridging the Arab-Israeli political divide for the sake of science, peace and environmental conservation.

“The people involved are interested in international collaboration in science and protecting the place they live,” said project co-director Stephen Monismith, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. “Nothing in the ocean understands political borders.”

That’s especially true in the Gulf of Aqaba (known in Israel as the Gulf of Eilat), a 99-mile-long extension of the Red Sea surrounded by four countries – Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Lush coral reefs flourish here, offering habitat for hundreds of fish and invertebrate species. The beaches and reefs have turned the neighboring cities of Aqaba, Jordan, and Eilat, Israel, into major tourist destinations that provide much-needed income for both countries.

But the gulf is also an important transportation route for oil, and its shores are lined with industrial plants, naval bases and chemical export facilities, all of which threaten to spoil the delicate marine ecosystem.

So, apparently, the aim of this Israeli-Jordanian-United States project is to save the precious Gulf of Aqaba environment from undergoing the sad polluted fate of the Jordan river in Israel, Palestinian territory, and Jordan; and of the Mediterranean to the west of Israel and Lebanon.

So far, excellent. Not so excellent is that this project is financed by the North Atlantic military organization NATO. Neither Israel nor Jordan are NATO members. The Gulf of Aqaba is part of the Indian ocean, not of the North Atlantic. So, NATO is acting outside its territory here, as it is, in a much more bloody way, in the war in Afghanistan.

Not just geographically NATO is overstepping its boundaries here. They are doing as a military organization what civilian environmental and scientific organizations should do.

The only thing “green” about wars is some of the military uniforms. Armed forces are destructive from an environmental viewpoint; even more so in ruinous wars. NATO has also links to Shell and other big oil corporations; which are hazards for the environment, including in the Gulf of Aqaba.

The problem of civilian environmental and scientific organizations is that they are often under-funded. While the taxpayer-funded budgets of military organizations like NATO are often so bloated that they can afford to spend lots of money on spin doctoring and image building, including greenwashing; what they use this Gulf of Aqaba project for.

If both Israel and Jordan would spend less on wars and preparing for wars, outside money for this important project might be unnecessary. And if money from foreign countries, including NATO countries, is necessary, then it should come from environmental budgets. Which should be increased, instead of budgets for wars and for greenwashing military organizations.

The Red Sea is home to one of the world’s richest coral reef systems which, like almost all other reefs around the world, is suffering from the impacts of climate change. Coral bleaching is threatening not only the reef, but the tourism and fishing industries and the coastal communities who depend on it: here.

Gulf conservation and corporate ‘greenwash’. Environmentalists say that polluting corporations only fund Middle East conservation projects as a “greenwash” policy: here.

11 thoughts on “Gulf of Aqaba, saved by NATO?

  1. War profiteer buys stake in Israeli solar company

    Friday 28 August 2009

    German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG has announced that it will buy a 40 per cent stake in Israeli solar company Arava Power for £9 million.

    Munich-based Siemens said in a statement that Kibbutz Ketura-Eilat-based Arava Power develops, builds and operates photovoltaic plants in Israel and is considered Israel’s market leader.

    Arava Power is a subsidiary of Global Sun Power Ltd, a partnership between the Kibbutz Ketura and US entrepeneurs.

    Siemens said that the investment would contribute to Israel building the first commercial solar farms in the region between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea.

    The first project will be the construction of a plant with an output of about 5MW at Kibbutz Ketura in the south of the country, while additional photovoltaic plants are being planned for the Negev and Arava deserts.

    Siemens chief executive Peter Loescher said: “This investment is another consequential step in further strengthening our green and sustainable technologies.

    “Thanks to its intensive sunshine and steadily growing demand for energy, Israel is an ideal location for further developing our solar business.”

    Siemens is among many large German firms that have faced compensation claims over complicity in the Holocaust.


  2. Egypt’s Mediterranean coast protected in reserve

    Dina Zayed

    Tue Mar 9, 2010 11:41am EST

    A tourist poses for an underwater picture in the Red Sea tourist resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula August 7, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

    CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt wants visitors to discover its Mediterranean coast at a marine reserve being established near the border with Libya, the government said Tuesday.

    Green Business

    “The goal is to protect endangered species … and encourage ecotourism in the reserve area, putting it on the global ecotourism map,” Environment Minister Maged George said.

    The 383-sq km (150-square-mile) reserve, mostly in the water in the Gulf of el-Salloum, is Egypt’s 28th nature protectorate, but its first on the Mediterranean.

    “Declaring this protectorate is a way to confront a host of environmental problems, such as soil degradation and coastal inundation, climate change and loss of biological diversity,” George said in a statement, adding that the area was rich in natural resources.

    The protectorate contains more than 160 migratory and local bird species, about 30 reptile and amphibian species and 10,000 to 12,000 marine species. Its creation should encourage scientific research on biological diversity in Egypt, he said.

    Tourism accounts for about 11 percent of Gross Domestic Product and is an important source of foreign currency and jobs in Egypt.

    In a move to encourage sound environmental practices, the government has begun a $238 million project to slash carbon emissions in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

    (Editing by Michael Roddy)



    Environmental concerns for Red Sea-Dead Sea project

    26 Mar 2012 09:48

    Source: Content partner // SciDev.Net – Farah Atyyat

    In April, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation is due to select a company to commence construction in June of the first phase of the so-called ‘Red Sea – Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project’. The project was approved in 2005 by Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.

    The project will channel water from the Gulf of Aqaba in the northern Red Sea to the Dead Sea 180 kilometres away. Around 1.2 billion cubic metres of water will be removed from the Red Sea each year.

    Much of the water will be desalinated to provide drinking water for Jordan, Israel and areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority, while the rest will replenish the Dead Sea. A hydropower station is also envisaged as part of the project.

    “The problem of water scarcity is the main reason to establish the Red Sea–Dead Sea pipeline,” Musa Al Jamaani, Jordan’s minister of water and irrigation, told SciDev.Net, adding that the first phase of the project is expected to cost US$2 billion.

    He said an extensive review process by the World Bank had concluded that the project was the best available solution to regional water needs.

    “They found that the environmental risks of the project are manageable if the project is well planned and executed,” he said. “The result [from] the final report … was a ‘go’ decision.”

    “In addition to the water, it will provide us with 600 megawatts of electricity per year from hydropower,” he added.

    But environmentalists fear the project will have far-ranging negative effects.

    Yehya Khaled, director general of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature in Jordan told SciDev.Net that large amounts of Red Sea water could change salinity levels in the Dead Sea, possibly encouraging bacterial and algal growth and mineral build-up that could affect the area’s appearance.

    “These changes could affect the unique health benefits [attributed to the Dead Sea’s mineral composition] of the saltiest sea on the planet, [and diminish] tourists’ interest in its environment,” he said.

    But Eli Elias, a private sector advisor to the World Bank study, said if water inflow was limited to 400 million cubic metres annually, the Dead Sea’s biology would not be affected.

    He admitted this was insufficient to raise the Dead Sea’s water levels, and noted that any moves to increase inflow would need to be carefully monitored.

    Environmental groups also fear the project could increase the likelihood of earthquakes in the region, especially if water flow is increased.

    “Pumping about 700 million cubic metres of seawater per year into the Dead Sea would lead to strong seismic activity in the region,” said Ahmad Al-Kofahi, executive director of the Jordan Environment Society.

    A hmed Al Qatarneh, secretary general of the Ministry of Environment, told SciDev.Net the project would be “implemented in phases, [and any] environmental impacts will be monitored closely to study any unexpected impacts and phenomena which may arise”.


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