[This is a monthly roundup of news articles and other materials related to environmental issues in the Middle East. It does not reflect the views of the Environment Page of Jadaliyya. Additionally, this roundup is part of the new Environment Page launch. All accompanying launch posts can be found here.]
Environmental News by Country
No Pay Cuts, Layoffs but Mideast Firm Rethinks Food Security AP News (22 April 2020)
One of the biggest private employers in the Middle East, the Majid al-Futtaim Group, has reassigned employees from its cinema and entertainment outlets to its grocery chain, Carrefour to respond to changing patterns of consumption during the pandemic.
مقالات "انعكاسات الكورونا على اقتصاد دول الخليج العربي Gulf Center for Development Policies (April 2020)
An eight-part series of articles by Omar al-Shehabi about the impacts of COVID-19 on the economies on the Gulf. The article series covers a range of topics, including sustainable development, migration and labor markets, and oil.
'It'll Cause a Water War': Divisions Run Deep as Filling of Nile Dam Nears The Guardian (23 April 2020)
As Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) project nears completion on the Nile, potentially catastrophic water shortages loom for Egypt and Sudan.
Egypt Courts Sudan as Time Runs out in Ethiopia Dam Dispute Mada Masr (16 April 2020)
The United States failed to broker a deal between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan meanwhile Sudan remains uncommitted to the position of either of its neighbors. Read the Arabic version here.
Egypt, Sudan Reject Ethiopian Offer for Transitional Agreement on Mega-Dam to Allow Initial Filling in Summer Mada Masr (27 April 2020)
Ethiopia attempted to resolve diplomatic tensions ongoing since 2011, with a temporary agreement to begin to fill the dam.
يوم الطبيعة" في البيوت... هكذا ينهي الإيرانيون احتفالات السنة الجديدة” Raseef 22 (1 April 2020)
Restrictions prevented Iranians from celebrating Sizdah Be-dar, the end of the Nowruz holiday, by visiting parks and beaches in their traditional yearly celebration of nature.
Sister Of Jailed Ecologist In Iran Says Brother Suffering From Covid-19 Radio Farda (23 April 2020)
Imprisoned environmental activist Sam Rajabi's sister says her brother contracted the novel coronavirus at Tehran's notorious prison, Evin.
A Photographer Has Been Taking Photos of Trees for 16 Years to Remind Us Just How Important They Are Insider (27 April 2020)
A photographer from Tabriz expresses his love for nature by capturing photos of trees in upland Iran.
How Are Conservationists in Jordan Taking Action to Protect Migratory Birds? Euro News (17 April 2020)
Wind turbines in Jordan represent a threat to migratory birds.
Roland Riachi: Lebanon Applies a 70-Year-Old Water Dam Policy Legal Agenda (2 April 2020)
In this interview, political economist Riachi contextualizes Lebanon’s current megaprojects in the broader history of the country’s water policy. Plans for the controversial Bisri and Jannah dams date from proposals made by a US delegation in 1953 that were revived by Gebran Bassil in 2010. Read the Arabic version here.
Lebanon's Bisri Valley Dam Faces Uncertain Future after Funding Halt Middle East Eye (17 April 2020)
In the face of mass popular opposition to the Bisri Dam project, the World Bank has called for Lebanon’s government to hold an open dialogue on the project.
The Bisri Water Project Highlights Lebanon's ‘Dammed’ Political Class Al-Arabiya (28 April 2020)
With the support of the World Bank, Lebanon’s political class pursues an ecologically and socially destructive infrastructure project.
Lebanon’s Waste Crisis Worsens Amid COVID-19 Outbreak Al-Monitor (20 April 2020)
Lebanon’s trash crisis still does not have a solution meanwhile hazardous medical waste from hospitals represents a special area of concern.
A Call from North Africa: Sovereignty Over our Land, Food and Destiny OpenDemocracy (17 April 2020)
The North African Food Sovereignty Network calls for equitable and sustainable alternatives to the status quo in light of the inequalities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
نستقل شاحنات الموت متراصّات... معاناة التونسيات العاملات في الزراعة Raseef 22 (28 April 2020)
This long-form piece details the difficult conditions faced by female agricultural workers in Tunisia. In particular, their transportation options to work–already dangerous in normal times because of unsafe road conditions–have become even more untenable due to COVID-19 exposure
Gaza is an Open-Air Prison. As Covid-19 Spreads, It’s Time to Lift the Siege. Washington Post (15 April 2020)
This editorial argues that siege conditions in Gaza have made adequate health measures regarding COVID-19 impossible to take.
In Ironic Twist, Palestinians Count on Israel’s Separation Barrier to Keep out Coronavirus 972 Magazine (16 April 2020)
Palestinian officials demand that the West Bank be quarantined midst accusations that the Israeli government is allowing Palestinian workers to transit through the separation barrier
COVID-19 Crisis Fuels Gaza Farmers’ Economic Woes AlJazeera (19 April 2020)
This video highlights the plight of Gazan farmers, made worse because of the closure of shops and the attendant drop in prices.
Coronavirus: For Palestinian Wildlife, Pandemic May Be 'Blessing in Disguise'” Middle East Eye (24 April 2020)
Palestinians have emphasized the environmental benefits of the pandemic, including a rise in agricultural self-sufficiency in addition to a drop in air pollution and improvements in wildlife habitat.
Lockdowns, Quarantines and Social Distancing: Remembering Palestine's 1838 Plague Middle East Eye (30 April 2020)
Palestine suffered an outbreak of plague during the period of Egyptian rule that required quarantine and travel bans.
Coronavirus Outbreak Exposes Health Risks of Coal Rush Al-Monitor (17 April 2020)
Coal-producing areas of Turkey experience poor air quality and their populations are particularly vulnerable to respiratory complications of COVID-19.
Turkey is Awash in Plastic Waste. Coronavirus Could Make It Worse Al Jazeera (22 April 2020)
Turkey is a major importer and producer of plastic waste, most of which ends up in its landfills. Pollution of its Mediterranean waters with plastic waste poses a particularly acute problem. An uptick in plastic use for food packaging during the coronavirus epidemic has worsened Turkey’s waste problem.
Coronavirus: Istanbul Revels at Return of Dolphins to City Shores Middle East Eye (26 April 2020)
A decrease in water traffic and fishing has resulted in the visible return of dolphins to the Bosphorous straits.
من طقوس التوحد مع الأرض إلى التيار الإيكولوجي... هل اهتم الفن حقاً بالبيئة؟ Raseef 22 (28 April 2020)
This essay argues that environmental protection only became a serious theme for visual artists in the mid-1960s. He advocates for the potential of artists to promote a sustainable relationship between humans and the rest of the environment.