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February 13, 2013, Wednesday

Peace-of-no-other-choice: Blue Peace

The Arab-Israeli conflict contributed greatly to the dictionary of world politics. A particularly useful term the Israeli side produced to the conflict was milhamat ein-brerah, war-of-no-other-choice. Israelis claimed that Israeli attacks hitting its Arab neighbor, be they offensive or defensive in nature, were all wars that were imposed upon Israel by historical situations, if not directly by Arabs. When the era of war ended and both Israelis and Arabs started to realize that no war would end their mutual problems, an era of cold peace and peace negotiations started. The realities on the ground are reflected in the dictionary in either neologisms or slight changes to the established terms. Some Israelis didn't want the sort of peace the conditions imposed, but they realized they had no other choice. This realization gave birth to shalom ein-brerah, peace-of-no-other-choice.

This term has the potential to be cut off from its original context and be used for any kind of peace imposed on the sides of a conflict by basic human needs and geographical realities.

Blue Peace is such a peace-of-no-other-choice. Countries that share sources of drinking water have no other choice than to create supranational bodies controlling the daily operation of water management systems. This is particularly true for cross-border rivers. Turkey is both an upstream and a downstream country. As major sources of drinking and irrigation water, the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have always been an issue of contention between Turkey, Syria and Iraq. But Turkey is also a downstream country in the case of the Orontes and Maritza rivers and is suffering from a lack of cooperation with its neighbors in regard to water management.

Water experts love to speak about drought; experts in international politics love to evaluate possible wars. When water experts come together with these experts in international politics, they talk about water wars. Only farsighted idealists realize that the basic human need for fresh water will eventually trivialize our lust for control over land and resources and force us to create cooperative bodies. People with a bit more virtue will realize that cross-border bodies created to solve strategic problems have the potential for survival and the capability of being used to solve other unrelated problems. The European Union was not created as an economic and political union. It was a gathering of countries producing coal and steel that realized the need to coordinate their efforts of feasible production and marketing.

The day after the waves of Arab Spring are over, the water-sharing issues will come to the agenda. Then the region will have only one option: peace-of-no-other-choice. The late Turkish President Turgut Özal had realized the potential of water pipelines creating such a level of mutual dependence between countries of the region that all other issues would be trivial compared to that level of dependence. Today, the Indian-based Strategic Foresight Group is promoting Blue Peace, a project that will create such multinational mechanisms of cooperation between Middle Eastern countries that will be capable of solving other unrelated problems too.

Turkish Review is hosting the media wing of Blue Peace on March 18-19, with the Strategic Foresight Group. Together with water experts and concerned journalists from all over the Middle East, we will discuss the Blue Peace report prepared by the Strategic Foresight Group and launched by the president of Switzerland in February 2011, which had identified some of the long-term trends in depletion of rivers and lakes across the region and made 10 innovative recommendations. We hope that this first conference will lead to regular interaction through conferences and workshops between participants over the next few years and participants may decide to create a Blue Peace Media Network.

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