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Middle East Water Initiative Based on Rhine River Model

The "Blue Peace in the Middle East" initiative seeks to examine how the multinational cooperation around the Rhine River might inform similar water agreements in the Middle East.
A ferry sails on the river Nile as the sun sets in Cairo May 12, 2013. Most of Egypt's population live clustered around the Nile valley and delta, and the river is both a vital resource for the country's citizens, and a potent national symbol. In a recent dispute with Ethiopia over the construction of a dam upstream, Egypt's foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr underlined the country's reliance on the river's waters: "No Nile - no Egypt," he said. Picture taken May 12, 2013. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih (EGYPT - Tags
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Switzerland, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Liechtenstein, Belgium and Italy are nine European countries that closely and productively cooperate to protect the Rhine River from pollution, and monitor the quality and the density of its water flow to ensure its optimal utilization. The river covers an area of 200,000 square kilometers (124,274 square miles) and reaches 20 million people. This cooperation is carried out by several bodies, notably the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR), which was founded in 1953 by Switzerland, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The ICPR also coordinates with the European Commission and operates according to the Convention on the Protection of the Rhine, which was signed by the member states on April 12, 1999.

These European countries constitute a model for peaceful and civilized cooperation, despite their ethnic diversity and linguistic differences as well as a long history of political disputes. This is the message that the Strategic Foresight Group’s (FSG) “Blue Peace in the Middle East” initiative seeks to convey to the countries of the Middle East. FSG therefore organized a trip to the Rhine between Germany and Switzerland, in which politicians, experts and reporters from Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — including an Al-Monitor reporter — took part.

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