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A Confluence of Crises: On Water, Climate and Security in the Middle East and North Africa

a confluence of crises_cover
Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
July, 2019

The Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) faces simultaneous crises of security, water scarcity and climate change. They are interlinked—the water crisis is exacerbated by climate change and may fuel conflict, while insecurity is an obstacle to dealing with other pressing issues. Together, the three constitute a confluence of crises that need to be addressed together.

Authoritarian and militarized governments in MENA countries repress public discourse and action related to water and climate crises, viewing critics as threats to national security. But the elite’s own economic interests and role in the political economy make them vulnerable to the new risks and threats.

The water and climate crises are mostly transboundary and require states to act together. But by prioritizing narrow security interests, states accord weak mandates to regional institutions, preventing agreements on shared challenges. A regional security framework is needed, encompassing water, climate and the current conflicts.


I. Introduction

II. The water, climate and security predicament

III. The political economy: Militarization and authoritarian governance

IV. Climate policies

V. Regional stalemate

VI. Conclusions


Dr Johan Schaar is an Associate Senior Fellow in the SIPRI Middle East and North Africa Programme.