This Planet Is Drying Up. And these Are the Consequences

This Planet Is Drying Up. And these Are the Consequences

Combating desertification and drought, the author states that this Planet is drying up and these are the consequences.  

By 2050, droughts may affect an estimated three-quarters of the world’s population. Image above is Credit: Miriet Abrego / IPS


This Planet Is Drying Up. And these Are the Consequences

 

MADRID, Dec 1 2022 (IPS) – Drought is one of the ‘most destructive’ natural disasters in terms of the loss of life, arising from impacts, such as wide-scale crop failure, wildfires and water stress.

In other words, droughts are one of the “most feared natural phenomena in the world;” they devastate farmland, destroy livelihoods and cause untold suffering, as reported by the world’s top specialised bodies: the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

They occur when an area experiences a shortage of water supply due to a lack of rainfall or lack of surface or groundwater. And they can last for weeks, months or years.

Exacerbated by land degradation and climate change, droughts are increasing in frequency and severity, up 29% since 2000, with 55 million people affected every year.

The impacts of climate change are often felt through water – more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme flooding, more erratic seasonal rainfall and accelerated melting of glaciers – with cascading effects on economies, ecosystems and all aspects of our daily lives, Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General

By 2050, droughts may affect an estimated three-quarters of the world’s population. This means that agricultural production will have to increase by 60% to meet the global food demand in 2050.

This means that about 71% of the world’s irrigated area and 47% of major cities are to experience at least periodic water shortages. If this trend continues, the scarcity and associated water quality problems will lead to competition and conflicts among water users, adds the Convention.

Most of the world already impacted

The alert is loud and strong and it comes from a number of the world’s most knowledgeable organisations.

To begin with, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on 29 November 2022 reported that most of the globe was drier than normal in 2021, with “cascading effects on economies, ecosystems and our daily lives.”

Water

Between 2001 and 2018, UN-Water reported that a staggering 74% of all-natural disasters were water-related.

Currently, over 3.6 billion people have inadequate access to water at least one month per year and this is expected to increase to more than five billion by 2050.

Moreover, areas that were unusually dry included South America’s Rio de la Plata area, where a persistent drought has affected the region since 2019, according to WMO’s The State of Global Water Resources report.

Drying rivers, lakes

In Africa, major rivers such as the Niger, Volta, Nile and Congo had below-average water flow in 2021.

The same trend was observed in rivers in parts of Russia, West Siberia and in Central Asia.

On the other hand, there were above-normal river volumes in some North American basins, the North Amazon and South Africa, as well as in China’s Amur river basin, and northern India.

Cascading effects

The impacts of climate change are often felt through water – more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme flooding, more erratic seasonal rainfall and accelerated melting of glaciers – with cascading effects on economies, ecosystems and all aspects of our daily lives, said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“Changes to Cryosphere water resources affect food security, human health, ecosystem integrity and maintenance, and lead to significant impacts on economic and social development”, said WMO, sometimes causing river flooding and flash floods due to glacier lake outbursts.

The cryosphere – namely glaciers, snow cover, ice caps and, where present, permafrost – is the world’s biggest natural reservoir of freshwater.

Soils

Being water –or rather the lack of it– a major cause-effect of the fast-growing deterioration of natural resources, and the consequent damage to the world’s food production, the theme of World Soil Day 2022, marked 5 December, is “Soils: Where food begins.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):

    • 95% of our food comes from soils.
    • 18 naturally occurring chemical elements are essential to plants. Soils supply 15.
    • Agricultural production will have to increase by 60% to meet the global food demand in 2050.
    • 33% of soils are degraded.

Dangerously poisoned

In addition to the life of humans, animals, and plants, one of the sectors that most depend on water–crops is now highly endangered.

Indeed, since the 1950s, reminds the United Nations, innovations like synthetic fertilisers, chemical pesticides and high-yield cereals have helped humanity dramatically increase the amount of food it grows.

“But those inventions would be moot without agriculture’s most precious commodity: fresh water. And it, say researchers, is now under threat.”

Moreover, pollution, climate change and over-abstraction are beginning to compromise the lakes, rivers, and aquifers that underpin farming globally, reports the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Salinised and plastified

Such is the case, among many others, of the growing salinisation and ‘plastification’ of the world’s soils.

In fact, currently, it is estimated that there are more than 833 million hectares of salt-affected soils around the globe (8.7% of the planet). This implies the loss of soil’s capacity to grow food and also increasing impacts on water and the ability to filter pollution.

Soil salinisation and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystems and are recognised as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions, said the UN on occasion of the 2021 World Soil Day.

Wastewater

Among the major causes that this international body highlights is that in some arid areas, there has been an increase in the amount of wastewater used to grow crops.

“The problem can be exacerbated by flooding, which can inundate sewage systems or stores of fertiliser, polluting both surface water and groundwater.” Fertiliser run-off can cause algal blooms in lakes.

Meanwhile, the amount of freshwater per capita has fallen by 20% over the last two decades and nearly 60% of irrigated cropland is water-stressed.

The implications of those shortages are far-reaching: irrigated agriculture contributes 40% of total food produced worldwide.

Soils are highly living organisms

“Did you know that there are more living organisms in a tablespoon of soil than people on Earth?”

Soil is a world made up of organisms, minerals, and organic components that provide food for humans and animals through plant growth, explains this year’s World Soils Day.

Agricultural systems lose nutrients with each harvest, and if soils are not managed sustainably, fertility is progressively lost, and soils will produce nutrient-deficient plants.

Soil nutrient loss is a major soil degradation process threatening nutrition. It is recognised as being among the most critical problems at a global level for food security and sustainability all around the globe.

‘Hidden’ hunger

Over the last 70 years, the level of vitamins and nutrients in food has drastically decreased, and it is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from a lack of micronutrients, known as hidden hunger because it is difficult to detect.

“Soil degradation induces some soils to be nutrient depleted, losing their capacity to support crops, while others have such a high nutrient concentration that represents a toxic environment to plants and animals, pollutes the environment and causes climate change.”

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Life in the firing zone in Masafer Yatta

Life in the firing zone in Masafer Yatta

Life in the firing zone in Masafer Yatta, the Palestinian territory where people have lived in caves for generations

Life in the firing zone in Masafer Yatta
Hajja Nuzha Al-Najjar in her cave-home in Masafer Yatta. In an oral history interview, she describes being shot in the leg by an Israeli settler in 2005.
Mahmoud Makhamra, Author provided

Aurélie Bröckerhoff, Coventry University and Mahmoud Soliman, Coventry University

The people of Masafer Yatta are determined to hold on to their cave-dwelling lifestyle. “I was born in this cave and gave birth to all 12 of my children here,” says Hajja Halima Abu Younis, an 82-year-old woman from Jinba, one of 33 villages in this semi-desert region at the southern tip of the occupied West Bank.

Masafer Yatta is the only Palestinian territory where many caves are used as homes – some 200 of the 800 caves in this area are still inhabited. Abu Younis says she would never accept another home even if the Israeli government offered her a house with two floors. She can trace her family’s history in this cave back almost two centuries:

Mahmoud Ahmad, the grandfather of my husband, was born in this cave back in 1840. My husband’s father was born here in 1906, then my husband and now my sons. We were two families sleeping here: my husband and me on this side, my brother-in-law on the other. All our children were sleeping in the middle.

In 1980, Israel ruled that a large section of Masafer Yatta including 12 villages was, in fact, uninhabited. It designated the land Firing Zone 918 – an area for its military to practise with live ammunition. The residents of these villages remained until 1999, when the military attempted to evict more than 700 Palestinians on the grounds that they were “illegally living in a firing zone”. These families have been fighting a legal battle for their communities’ right to remain ever since, which was finally rejected by Israel’s Supreme Court in May 2022.

Since that ruling, the Israeli military has carried out regular live ammunition practices in and around eight villages within the zone. It has also escalated the forced evictions of local residents including those living in caves. Virtually all structures within Firing Zone 918 are now without legal protection against demolition.

Abu Younis says the most significant threat to the locals comes on the three days each week, Monday to Wednesday, when military training takes place:

In these days we are jailed in our caves, we cannot move. We are afraid the Israeli army will kill someone while they are conducting military training. The army trains tanks around our village. The sound of the bombs and shots scare the children and the flocks of animals. My son Issa cannot graze his 150 sheep during the military training. How can a shepherd be a shepherd if he cannot graze his sheep?

Life in the firing zone in Masafer Yatta A boy sitting in front of two tanks and a soldier
A Palestinian boy watches an Israeli military exercise in Masafer Yatta, June 2022.
Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA-EFE

‘We feared nothing but the wolves’

The different styles of cave in Masafer Yatta reflect changing lifestyles from one generation to the next. Some possess water wells and tunnels so that residents could keep, feed and wash their farm animals inside the caves. Others have moats around them for external feeding.

Mohammed Abu Sabha, an 84-year-old farmer and shepherd originally from Al Quarytein village, is taking a younger generation of Palestinians aged 19 to 29 to see the cave in which he was born. Down narrow, crumbling stone steps, the group enters a large underground area with a low, domed ceiling. Abu Sabha is overcome with the emotion of his childhood memories as he steps into the cave:

Oh my god, it has changed. Why is it destroyed like this? I need to come back and renovate it. This cave means everything to me – I was born in it and I want to die in it too.

Abu Sabha’s family was evicted from the cave in 1951 when he was 13 years old. He has not been back in many years (he now lives in Yatta city, the urban centre north of Masafer Yatta). When he was a child, it was home to four families who all slept in the same room. Cows and camels lived inside the cave too to keep them safe; the cows were used to plough the surrounding land that provided the families with their main source of income. As one of the young visitors puts it: “Camels and sheep back then were like the Mercedes cars of today.”

Since 2017, researchers at Coventry University have been working with a younger generation of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta to gather stories from their elders. The On Our Land project was established to build oral histories of what everyday life was, and remains, like for the semi-nomadic people who call this part of the occupied West Bank home. We have been given access to historical documents, testimonials, historical maps and photographs to support these oral histories.

Life in the firing zone in Masafer Yatta A woman and donkey in the parched landscape
Many residents still live a semi-nomadic lifestyle amid this parched landscape.
Mahmoud Makhamra, Author provided

Abu Ashraf Hamamda, a 60-year-old farmer who still lives in a cave in Al Mufaqara, one of the villages inside Firing Zone 918, explains how people used to move around Masafer Yatta following annual cycles of harvest, livestock grazing and rest:

We used to live from October to July in the lower parts of Masafer Yatta. In summer, we would move to the hills to harvest our rain-fed produce of grapes and figs … The whole family participated in harvesting, everyone who could carry a sickle – old and young, men and women. We took food with us, grapes and milk from the sheep. We worked all day, morning to evening … We stayed in the fields for two weeks without coming back to the village.

At this point, he starts singing the song they would all sing while cutting the wheat: “Oh my sickle with the sharp teeth. Oh my sickle that is made in Gaza.”

According to Ali Na’ameen, a 73-year-old shepherd from Al Majaz village, the sheep’s milk they produce is unique because of the area’s particular geography:

In Masafer Yatta, we do not have as much rain as in the north [of the West Bank]. But the grass here is the best because it is salty; it strengthens the sheep’s immune systems. This gives their milk a creamier texture and makes it more nutritious.

Na’ameen is usually a happy soul, but as he talks he grows nostalgic for a more carefree time:

My favourite moments in summer were when shepherds gathered in the middle of the day around the water well. From late morning until early afternoon, the sheep had naps because of the hot weather. We took this time as an opportunity to chat. Sometimes, we played games such as the “seven stones and fence” game, which is a bit like chess. We were happy and had peace of mind. We feared nothing but the wolves coming for our sheep.

‘A piece of paradise’

Masafer Yatta sits at the southern tip of the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills. Its craggy mountains and hills resemble walnut shells in summer, connected by more fertile pastures in the valleys below. About 3,000 people live here, mostly working as shepherds and farmers growing wheat, barley, beans and olives.

The locals tell us different stories about the name of the area. Some say Masafer comes from the Arabic word for “zero”, referring to the belief that life could not thrive in this hot and harsh landscape. However Nidal Younis, the current mayor of Masafer Yatta, tells us it refers to the last period of the Ottoman Empire, when locals were freed from paying taxes for agricultural products in order to win their loyalty to the weak Ottoman rulers.

Yet another version suggests Masafer means “travelling”, referring to the journeys people have long been making through this area – including traders and pilgrims travelling between Africa, Asia and Europe. Abu Younis describes how the villagers used to give these travellers food and fresh water from a pond, filled by an ancient clay pipe running down from a spring in the hills.

People have lived on this land for many generations, grazing sheep and goats and selling dairy and livestock products. According to the mayor, however, many feel they cannot sustain themselves and their families solely through subsistence farming and shepherding any more. “In the past,” Younis says, “we were cultivating huge areas so you did not need to think of alternative [sources of income], despite the hardship of this life.”

In recent decades, many younger Palestinians have gravitated away from the rural lifestyle to Yatta city and beyond. Ibrahim Nawaja, who is from the village of Susya and splits his time between Susya and Yatta city, says rural Masafer Yatta is “like a piece of paradise for me, with its fresh air, calm atmosphere and rich nature – green in spring, yellow in summer. I come here to get away from the traffic and noise of the city.”

But the land designation changes applied by Israel since 1980 have disrupted the traditional lives of farmers and shepherds here. Nawaja suggests that while this semi-nomadic lifestyle was never easy, the additional barriers imposed have made it much harder – and residents’ testimonies have repeatedly alleged that Israeli settlers have exacerbated tensions by interfering with water supplies and through other attacks.

People’s lives have become difficult and complicated because of the occupation’s restrictions. There are many injustices, including when our water wells and pastures have been contaminated.

A ‘misunderstanding’ that changed everything

Many residents tell us the declaration of Firing Zone 918 rests on a misunderstanding. They say the Israeli government did not recognise that the people of Masafer Yatta live a semi-nomadic lifestyle when it first deemed the area uninhabited in 1980. More than four decades later, this position was endorsed by Israel’s Supreme Court in its May 2022 final ruling, which found that Masafer Yatta residents had no right to the land because they were not permanent residents at the time of its declaration as a firing zone.

In August, the Supreme Court rejected a further appeal from residents against the demolition of two schools and other Palestinian buildings within the firing zone. Yesterday (October 2), the court rejected a request for a further hearing on its May 4 verdict, and Israel’s government confirmed it would not grant any more court hearings.

When the Oslo Accords were signed in the early 1990s as a step towards fulfilling the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, Masafer Yatta was categorised as “Area C”, meaning it still fell under full Israeli administrative and military control. Prior to 2022, the biggest displacement of residents took place in 1999. Abu Ashraf Hamamda recalls how he reacted to that eviction:

After they collected our belongings and threw them to the other side of the road, I snuck through the mountains back to my village. I contacted Israeli activists and lawyers. I went to the Israeli parliament, and gave a speech about the right of my people to stay in our villages and that we had been living there for a long time. After four months, we had a court decision that allowed us to return and to stay temporarily. And we repaired our communities.

More than two decades on from the eviction, they are still living there – and, says his wife Um Ashraf Hamamda, their determination to remain is stronger than ever:

We are eight big families in this village. Our grandparents and our parents lived here … The occupation expelled us to Al-Tuwani village. They threw away our belongings, they dispersed us [but] we persevered. We sued them and kept striving until we reached the Supreme Court … Then when we returned to our village, the occupation continued oppressing us because they failed to expel us the first time. They poisoned our cattle so we would lose hope and leave the village. But we stayed – we did not leave! We were born here and we have to stay here.

Most of the 700-odd residents evicted in 1999 returned to their caves and other buildings after the court’s decision in March 2000. The ruling allowed the residents to return temporarily – and they have been fighting a legal battle with Israel ever since.

In recent months, however, the Israeli military has stepped up the demolition of buildings within the firing zone on the grounds that Palestinians have no permits for them. Such permits are extremely hard to obtain from Israel’s government.

Residents say they are prevented from having electricity with any solar panels they erect soon being destroyed. They have also described the authorities cutting water pipes, demolishing wells and confiscating water tanks in order to deprive them and their animals of water.

The threat of settler attacks

The threat to the livelihoods – and existence – of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta also comes from the building of Israeli settlements on land at the edge of Firing Zone 918. This land was previously used by Palestinian farmers and shepherds, who now find themselves “boxed in” between military training and the new settlements.

The settlers are all Israeli citizens of Jewish descent who have moved into gated communities in this occupied Palestinian territory. Housing in such settlements is often subsidised by Israel’s government, and different laws apply to these settlers than their Palestinian neighbours.

Settlers are widely reported to have inflicted harm on Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta, including by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Some residents tell us that on occasions, they have seen their water supplies being contaminated by settlers living close by. According to Abu Ashraf Hamamda:

Since Israel started building the settlements, we now live less than one mile from them. Settlers chop our trees, burn our crops and poison our water wells … In the past when we were herding our sheep, we moved freely in our land and slept wherever we wanted. But today we do everything very quickly because we want to avoid settler attacks.

Experiences of settler-instigated violence come up regularly in the oral histories we have recorded. Hajja Nuzha Al-Najjar describes how, in 2005, she was in a field with her daughters-in-law when she was shot in the back of her leg by some Israeli settlers. Her leg is stretched out in front of her as she recalls that “my son was on the other side of the valley. When he tried to join me, he also became a target so had to crouch down and hide.”

Al-Najjar limped back to her cave and only then realised the blood was streaming down her leg. An ambulance was called but the settlers would not let it pass, she recalls, so she had to be bundled into a car and driven some way before she could be transferred to the ambulance.

The level of livestock in Masafer Yatta is now just a third of what it was in 1980 when the firing zone was first declared. Abu Ashraf Hamamda explains the reasons for this decline:

On the one hand, we cannot reach the places we used to herd in. On the other, since Oslo [the signing of the Oslo Accords], the price of animal food has increased. In less than six months, barley and wheat prices increased by 80% – I could not afford that for my sheep … We were forced to sell part of our livestock because we were unable to feed them.

While our interviewees acknowledge the support they receive from many international and national humanitarian aid organisations – including being supplied with animal food – they say this is not a desirable solution. As Ali Na’meen explains:

Today we are receiving barley from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, a UN agency, instead of producing our own crops as in the past. We graze our sheep in groups, accompanied by international volunteers to protect us … This is not the kind of life we used to have when we moved freely and produced our own food. Despite that hard life, we were still in a much better situation than we are now.

‘I need to see my future’

The traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle of this area is also threatened by societal and cultural changes from one generation to the next. Most of the elders here say that young Palestinians want to live in houses, have smartphones and secure jobs rather than following the tough path of farming and shepherding. As a result, many have moved to Yatta city in the north-west of Masafer Yatta. Others have moved to cities such as Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah to study or work. Somia Al-Omour, one of the project’s young researchers, explains:

I need to see my future and live a normal life. I decided to continue my education in Ramallah as a nurse and to work there. I would not have the same opportunity if I stayed in Masafer Yatta.

In contrast, the elders of Masafer Yatta are more determined than ever to remain living in their caves and maintain their lifestyles as farmers and shepherds. But Abu Ashraf Hamamda accepts it is difficult to convince young people to carry on with this lifestyle:

Some of them are fed up living in the caves. They want to sleep in bedrooms, and they want a shower. They dream of having a closet for their clothes, not just a bag to put them in.

The unique traditions associated with life in the caves of Masafer Yatta may have lost some of their significance for the younger generation. Yet through our oral histories, we have seen bonds strengthen between the different generations. Khalil Makhamrah from Jinba village describes the profound impact of interviewing his grandmother:

That interview changed my perspective about the elderly people here, about the importance of their stories and lives. Ploughing the land was difficult for them but [I learnt] how much they enjoyed it. This is really important. When we can bring a tangible item from our past forward, it proves we own this land and it brings us closer to it. We need to protect this land that has been inherited to us, because this is the life of our parents and grandparents.

Such discussions may demonstrate to the next generation of Palestinians the value of “sumud” – steadfastness – in an area that is increasingly at risk. Ironically, the current threat of military practice within Firing Zone 918 is making young people return to the caves with their parents in greater numbers, as Taha Al-Omour, another of our young researchers, explains:

I am coming every day to stay with my father here in Al Majaz village, especially after the army started practising military training here. I cannot leave my parents in such conditions and stay in my home in Yatta city, even though I am looking for a more comfortable life that is unlike my parents’ hard life.

More than 200 young people now live permanently in the 12 Masafer Yatta villages within Firing Zone 918 – a significant increase from the recent past. Spaces have been created in each village to gather and sleep each night, in order to protect villagers from the threat of forced evictions and other harassment.

For generations, caves were the only homes for the people of Masafer Yatta, which is why there is such a strong connection to them. But these days, the caves play a further role as “safe spaces” – places to pass the traditions of the past to a new generation and to challenge the Israeli policy of expulsion. More than 200 caves in Masafer Yatta are still inhabited today, including by Abu Younis and her family:

Through the years, caves have enabled us to maintain life in Masafer Yatta’s villages and protected us from the occupation. Now, again, as our buildings and communities are being demolished, it is the last safe space for us. Not only do they protect us from the hot and cold weather, they protect us from harassment – so we will keep preserving them.


This story is part of Conversation Insights

The Insights team generates long-form journalism and is working with academics from different backgrounds who have been engaged in projects to tackle societal and scientific challenges.


 


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Aurélie Bröckerhoff, Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University and Mahmoud Soliman, Nonviolent activist and a remote visiting research fellow at the Center for Trust, peace and Social Relations, Coventry University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Unlocking Peace Ministry in the Middle East

Unlocking Peace Ministry in the Middle East

All MENA countries, derived from the XIX and early XX centuries, acquired this capability when policing their citizens, identifying any person protesting their government without due process. The same applies to interstate relations where transboundary resources and interests of any kind envenom and more often inflame situations. So, at this conjecture, is it not the opportune time to at least try unlocking a Peace Ministry in the Middle East?

 

Unlocking Peace Ministry in the Middle East: Announcing the Middle East Consultation 2022

 

 

Everything is affected whenever peace is missing. Absolutely everything! Conflict has a way of harming all areas of the human experience. We all know too well the pain and confusion undermining peace throughout our nations, our communities, and our own souls in regrettable ways. It disorients and forces us to grapple with the seemingly overwhelming gravity of sin and the depth of its consequences. For this reason, God really, really cares about peace.

Seeking peace is essential to God’s story for humanity. Scripture demonstrates the extent to which conflict infects a fallen world while also declaring the length God goes for the sake of peace. This didn’t happen without sacrifice; Jesus Christ endured the extreme weight of conflict as he hung on the cross. And it was on this journey to the cross that he shared eternal words with his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). This is a perplexing type of comfort. Jesus is perfectly aware that our hearts will face trouble and fear in an uncertain world, but he assures us that the only kind of peace that can suffice is an otherworldly peace. Because of this, we have hope amid the storms of strife.

It can feel like the Middle East invents ever creative ways to undermine peace as people across the region deal with struggling societies, mounting insecurities, dirty politics, violent factionalism, destructive ideologies, and wave after wave of crisis. The problems fill headlines and reports throughout ceaseless cycles of bad news. Residents struggle through chronic frustration and disillusion, and growing numbers are joining a migration outflow seeking better fortunes in new locations.

Christ followers across the Middle East face their own flavors of conflict. Egypt encounters layers of challenges as churches and Christian groups serve amid rapidly changing times. In Algeria churches struggle to forge faith communities against the grain of a suppressive government. Christians of Iraq continue to navigate decades-long strife while trying to nurture one another and serve their neighbors. In Palestine, occupation and oppression hinder the most basic areas of human life and fuel hardships of many kinds. Sudan’s believers are dealing with rapidly changing political situations after years of regime change and upheaval. And in Lebanon, new layers of crisis pile upon old, unresolved conflicts to destabilize a state and its people. Unfortunately, these are only brief samples of the range of conflict raging across the region. It can all seem so overwhelming, and in the darkest moments cries go out, “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalms 10:1).

Though it doesn’t come easily, we must insist on recognizing the profound ways God’s people can and do faithfully minister peace amid challenging situations. Churches, organizations, and individuals of faith are ready vessels for extending Christ’s peace; they possess the potential by the Spirit to alter situations and write new stories for people and places. Is this not what it means to take hold of the peace that Christ leaves? This among the many questions the Middle East Consultation 2022 aims to ask on September 21-23 during Peace I Leave with You: Theories and Practices for Peace Ministry in the Middle East.

Practicing effective peace ministry requires us to imagine peace in ways that conform our thoughts and attitudes to the person of Christ in service of others. Biblically, peace ministry can be understood as the work of unlocking human potential by moving people, communities, and nations into healthier dynamics of shared life. Such outreach proceeds from deep convictions that the gospel is a holistic response to any situation where sin inflicts strife, oppression, hatred, and mistrust- everything antithetical to the restorative work of God.

Paradigms for peace ministry can help us recognize how peace involves multidimensional expressions (peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding) working across levels of the human experience, including the personal, group, and national. The following grid, which MEC 2022 will adopt as a basic working framework, helps conceptualize this dynamic:

National Peacekeeping National Peacemaking National Peacebuilding
Group Peacekeeping Group Peacemaking Group Peacebuilding
Personal Peacekeeping Personal Peacemaking Personal Peacebuilding

Such a framework is helpful, but it certainly cannot convey the complexity of engaging conflict. There are no simple explanations or quick solutions to the problems plaguing the Middle East. Each unique context in the region carries assorted variables that require us to ask a proper set of questions. Worldly logic may say peace is an elusive dream or unattainable ideal, but authentic faith in Christ compels us to take hold of the gospel’s promises of peace as we seek to discover how God is active and alive in the world. Our eschatological hope for the future moves us to action as we relish the words of Isaiah 9:7: There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.

God is working through conflict for redemptive purposes, and everyone has a role to play in this. This means embracing the invitation to partner with God in living out Christ-honoring works of peace and continually exploring new ways to think about the theories and practices of peace ministry.

On September 21-23, the Middle East Consultation 2022 will do just this in the three-day online event Peace I Leave with You: Theories and Practices for Peace Ministry in the Middle EastJoin us for a series of enriching discussions examining the challenges facing the Middle East region and illuminating the hopefulness of peace for the world in and through Christ.

Read Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.

Apply for MEC 2022 today!

Water and the requirement for prostration

Water and the requirement for prostration

Water and the requirement for prostration or is it a Disruption to Earth’s freshwater cycle that exceeded the safe limit?

by Abdou BENABBOU

Rarely brought to the forefront, water has always been, for all countries, at the centre of their main concerns. 

Deaf conflicts between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia through which the Nile passes have been revealed without reaching significant exceedances. Just as the waters of the Euphrates have always suggested, arm wrestling and tensions between Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Israeli warmongering have hovered indefinitely on the subject because the Zionist state has made it a weapon of survival.

Water, the first source of life, has always been an element of discord between men, whether for the irrigation of small plots of land or to quench the thirst of entire territories. 

The current exceptional global drought that, in the long term, puts on the agenda a fabulous problem already announcing the downgrading of the priority given to the different and fundamental sources of today’s energies. 

As all emanate from this blue gold, the choice between gas, oil, wheat, and other resources that are objects of planetary tug-of-war and nerves will no longer be questioned. Water had never required idolatry, and its pressing solicitude is about to surpass that of oil.

It is no longer just a question of conforming to the usual vicissitudes of the agricultural world. But it is now a vital resource for humans.

The spread of land aridity and the relentless exceptional drought disintegrating the order of the hemispheres will create a massive breach for new world conflicts. That green Britain refrains from pampering the grass of its residences, about to lose their green lush or that farmers throughout Europe are forced to bow down to providence in the same way as the peasants of Niger is a warning shot to announce a new inevitable global disruption. It is doubtful that the powers will stand idly by in the face of thirst and the temptation to republish; by all means, the stranglehold on the water will become flush with the skin.

 

Mideast won’t see stability or prosperity without independent . . .

Mideast won’t see stability or prosperity without independent . . .

The Mideast won’t see stability or prosperity without an independent Palestinian state, as per the latest outburst of the King of Jordan, whereas and better still, in our personal and would be impartial view, a confederation of the three implicated states: i.e. Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. 

This could bring the most synergy in all domains of life for everyone in the region as well as in the world.

The world’s leading elites and all concerned immediate and full attention should be focused on the current climate change and how to somehow alleviate it.   

But first, let’s see what the Jordan News Agency (Petra) reports.

 

King: Mideast won’t see stability or prosperity without independent Palestinian state

 

 

 

Jeddah, July 16 (Petra) — His Majesty King Abdullah on Saturday, stressed that there can be no security, stability, nor prosperity in the region without a solution guaranteeing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.

In remarks at the Jeddah Security and Development Summit, attended by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, King Abdullah said economic cooperation must include the Palestinian National Authority to ensure the success of regional partnerships.

“We must examine opportunities for cooperation and collective action, in pursuit of regional integration in food security, energy, transport, and water,” His Majesty added, noting that Jordan is keen on transforming these opportunities into real partnerships in the region.

Following is the English translation of the King’s remarks at the Jeddah Security and Development Summit, which brought together members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United States, Egypt, and Iraq, as well as Jordan:

“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad.

Your Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Your Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies, Mr President, Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.

It is my pleasure to start by thanking my brother Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for the gracious invitation, the warm welcome, and the hosting of this well-organised Summit.

Mr President, Thank you for your participation in this Summit. Your presence today is a testament to the United States’ dedication to the stability of our region and our close and historic partnership. It underlines your leading role and efforts to bolster regional security and support peace and prosperity.

Your Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies, We meet today as our region and the world face multiple challenges, from the economic repercussions of the COVID pandemic, and the ramifications of the Ukrainian crisis on energy and food, to the continuous conflicts that our region suffers from.

Therefore, we must examine opportunities for cooperation and collective action, in pursuit of regional integration in food security, energy, transport, and water.

We in Jordan are keen on transforming these opportunities into real partnerships in the region, by capitalising on our historical and deep-rooted ties with Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and our brothers in Egypt and Iraq, in service of the interests of our peoples. We embark on these efforts out of our belief that the only way forward is through collective action.

For we in Jordan continue to host over one million Syrian refugees, providing them with various humanitarian, health, and education services, while also countering the renewed security threats on our borders, by thwarting attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons, which now pose a major threat to the entire region.

We shoulder these responsibilities on behalf of the international community, which must carry on with its role in countering the impact of the refugee crisis on refugees and host communities.

Your Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies, To ensure the success of the regional partnerships that we seek, economic cooperation must include our brothers in the Palestinian National Authority.

And here, we must reaffirm the importance of reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, on the basis of the two-state solution; for there can be no security, stability, nor prosperity in the region without a solution guaranteeing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.

In conclusion, I again thank my brother Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their great efforts to enhance this cooperation and coordination, in service of our region and our world.

And I thank President Biden, once again, for his ongoing efforts to work towards peace, security, and prosperity in our region and our world. Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.”

//Petra// AA
16/07/2022 15:15:46

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