Thursday, February 4, 2010

Syria's droughts and politics

"The lack of rain has sucked farmers into a vicious circle. Because of the drought they have to buy fodder to feed their livestock, but the failure of crops has driven up cereal prices. And because so many farmers are being forced to sell their sheep and goats, livestock prices have plummeted. "It's always the same people who are suffering," Mr bin Yehia says."

I don't want to deny that there has been recurrent droughts in the Levant, but last year was very good in Lebanon, above average in North Iraq; and this year we are way above the yearly average both in the Bekaa in Lebanon and in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, where it is raining torrents as I write. Syria is exactly in the middle of both Bekaa and Erbil, and unless the rains are anti-Syrian, it looks to me like it could be a rainy year there too. It is likely that this article was written a few weeks ago, when the region went through 4 weeks of stable clear and unseasonally warm weather. But journalists are always looking for something that links climate change, droughts, water, and the Middle East, and they may reach conclusions a bit too quickly. And of course, Syria, which has been "on the verge of economic and social collapse" since I learned how to read Western newspapers, but which has not fallen yet and doesn't look like it is going to fall anytime soon, is always a good topic: a rejectionist country, part of the axis of evil. Popular discontent is always a good topic to report on from Syria.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

could it be that "drought" has less to do with rainfall than with poor utilization of water resources and aquifers?