The Ecologist


Middle East: 1/25 of 72
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Olive harvest at Surif in the West Bank, Palestine. Photo: Palestine Solidarity Project via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Rooted in the soil: the birth of agro-resistance in Palestine

Jonathan Cook

19th August 2016

For decades Israel has been driving Palestinian farmers off their land by imposing restrictions on agriculture, writes JONATHAN COOK. But one company, Canaan Fair Trade, has found an innovative way to resist peacefully, increasing resilience and prosperity in rural West Bank communities, and forging international alliances in the global movement for good food and farming. more...
The Iraq war was a disaster for the entire Middle East. But it also blew the wheels off the entire European project. Photo: eddiecoyote via Flickr (CC BY).

What Chilcot won't tell us: the Iraq War crashed the European project

Dr Robert Dover

5th July 2016

The political vacuum left by the Iraq war provided the space for radical extremism to take root in the Middle East and rampage across the region, writes Dr Robert Dover. That makes Tony Blair directly responsible for the refugee crisis that is destabilising Europe today, reflected in the UK's Brexit vote. And it fatally wounded the credibility of his 'third way' social democratic politics across the EU. more...
Children in the South Hebron Hills village of Susiya, where water is increasingly scarce: permits to dig wells and water tanks are rarely granted. One local well was recently demolished by settlers and an old car was pushed down it. Photo: kelleelund via

In the West Bank and Gaza, Israel is using water as a weapon of war

Ramzy Baroud

4th July 2016

Israel is inflicting 'water starvation' on Palestinian communities, writes Ramzy Baroud, with residents of all-Jewish settlements in the West Bank each receiving thirty times more water than their Palestinian neighbours. Meanwhile resistance to the Occupation is routinely punished by water closures and the destruction of water infrastructure, contrary to international humanitarian law. more...
HMS Dragon's Lynx helicopter fires infra red flares during an exercise over a Type 45 destroyer of the kind that won't work in warm seas. Photo: Dave Jenkins / Defence Images via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Now will our politicians take climate change seriously?

Richard Galustian

14th June 2015

Rising temperatures are now affecting countries' ability to wage war, writes Richard Galustian, with Britain's new Type 45 destroyers left without power as warm Gulf and Mediterranean seas close down their engines. Will this, finally, force our politicians to understand that climate change is real and dangerous? more...
Could all of North Africa and the Middle East end up like this? Berber people in the Sahara Desert in Morrocco, close to the Algerian border, August 2009. Photo: 16:9clue via Flickr (CC BY).

Searing heat may spark Middle East, North Africa climate exodus

Tim Radford

17th May 2016

Temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa could reach unbearably high levels by mid-century, writes Tim Radford - and then keep on rising. The intolerable heat would render large areas uninhabitable and give rise to a wave of 'climate refugees' seeking escape to more temperate regions. more...
A dust storm hits Jordan's  Zaatari refugee camp on 29th July 2012 shortly after it was established ear the northern city of Mafraq. Photo: European Commission DG ECHO via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Jordan grapples with the environmental consequences of its refugee crisis

Doug Weir

27th April 2016

Since 1948 Jordan has taken in millions of refugees from Palestine, Iraq and most recently Syria, writes Doug Weir. Politically and economically the country has proved astonishingly resilient - but the population increase has caused huge damage to its fragile environment. Ecological degradation, pollution and resource scarcity may cause political instability unless more is done to tackle the problems. more...
Kurdish Peshmerga soldier on guard at the Mosul Dam, 31st December 2014. Photo: Claus Weinberg via Flickr (CC BY).

Iraq's greatest danger yet: collapse of 'world's most dangerous dam'

Felicity Arbuthnot

7th March 2016

As if Iraq has not suffered enough under Saddam Hussein, the vicious UN sanctions regime, the US-UK occupation and the depradations of Daesh, a new threat looms that could kill a million people or more, and destroy Baghdad and a string of other cities along the Tigris river. The porous rocks beneath the Mosul dam are dissolving away and the entire edifice could collapse at any moment, releasing 11 cubic kilometres of water. more...
Field damaged by Israel's spraying of crops within Gaza, 31 December 2015. Photo: Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem.

War crime? Israel destroys Gaza crops with aerial herbicide spraying


18th February 2016

Gaza farmers have lost 187 hectares of crops to aerial spraying of herbicides by Israel hundreds of meters within the territory's borders. The action, carried out in the name of 'security', further undermines Gaza's ability to feed itself and may permanently deprive farmers of their livelihoods. It may also represent a war crime under the 1977 Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. more...
A Palestinian rides his trike through a flooded street following the heavy storms of 2013. Photo: AFP PHOTO  / MOHAMMED ABED via Flickr / Globovisión (CC BY-NC)

As flooding in Gaza worsens, the most basic of human rights are under threat

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

9th February 2016

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has worsened after floods and purposeful destruction has taken its toll in recent months, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. The eight year blockade by Israel and conflict with Egypt has already hit Palestinian families hard but now Gaza is at even greater risk as Egypt diverts seawater into life-line tunnels. more...
A child in one of the 'unrecognised' Bedouin villages of the Negev desert, Israel: an Israeli citizen, but one less equal than others. Photo: Physicians for Human Rights - Israel via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Don't build Jew-only towns on the rubble of Bedouin villages

Jewish Coalition for the Bedouin of Um al-Hiran and Atir

26th January 2016

Israel's government is now free to expel 1,200 of its Bedouin citizens from their 'unrecognised' villages in the Negev desert, following a Supreme Court decision not to hear their appeal. Now only one thing can save the Bedouin, their communities and their way of life: an international outcry. more...
The Lord will know his own: children in Raqqa, Syria, August 2013. Photo: Bidna Capoeira via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Bombing Syria? Great! But why stop there?

The Ecologist

1st December 2015

David Cameron's vision of striking terrorists in Syria betrays a pitiful lack of vision. We must bomb terrorists and their accomplices wherever they are lurking: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Molenbeek, the Parisian banlieue, even Leeds and Finsbury Park if we have to. more...
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is all for innovation - and that includes highly innovative interpretations of UN Resolution 2249 to permit military force, and of the right to 'self defence' to justify attacking distant targets that present no threat. Pho

Syria: an illegal war for energy, capital and empire

Colin Todhunter

28th November 2015

As protestors gather to oppose yet another illegal war in the Middle East, Colin Todhunter asks why David Cameron is so keen to bomb. Of course there's access to oil and routes for gas pipelines, but beyond that, it's about re-entrenching militarism into our national culture, and re-asserting the dominance of capital over people. more...

Middle East: 1/25 of 72
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Bernie Sanders in Saturday's debate for the Democratic Presidential primaries, 14th November 2015. Photo: Still from CBS News.

Bernie Sanders is right - climate change is a massive global security threat

Farron Cousins / DeSmogBlog

17th November 2015

Remarks by Bernie Sanders that climate change is a major driver of global instability and terror, he was mocked by Republican Presidential contenders. But the argument is a familiar one to the CIA and the Department of Defense, which has itself released strong warnings on the issue. Is it time the GOP got with the beat? more...
Israel's exploitation of wind energy in the occupied Golan Heights is legal under international law because it does not deplete the territory's natural capital. But oil drilliing would violate that principle. Photo: Yuval Shoshan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Israel to annex Golan Heights after 'billion barrel' oil find

Jonathan Cook / Middle East Eye

15th November 2015

After a massive oil find in Syria's Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967, Israel is asking President Obama to recognise its annexation of the territory, writes Jonathan Cook. To consolidate its hold, plans are afoot to quadruple Israeli settler numbers to 100,000. more...
A Palestinan woman protecting an olive tree from destruction. Photo: via Frank M. Rafik on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Destruction of Palestinian olive trees is a monstrous crime

Dr. Cesar Chelala

7th November 2015

The uprooting and cutting down of over a million olive and fruit trees in occupied Palestine since 1967 is an attack on a symbol of life, and on Palestinian culture and survival, writes Dr. Cesar Chelala. A grave crime under international humantarian law, the arboricide is also contrary to Jewish religious teachings. more...
New building in Masdar City with an old twist. Photo: André Diogo Moecke via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Traditional architecture offers relief from soaring temperatures in the Gulf

Amin Al-Habaibeh, Nottingham Trent University

8th November 2015

As temperatures soar in the Persian Gulf, modern buildings rely on energy-guzzling air-conditioning to maintain tolerable temperatures, writes Amin Al-Habaibeh. But traditional buildings stay cool passively using shade; wind and thermally driven ventilation; and naturally insulating, reflective materials. For a sustainable future, modern architects must revive the ancient knowledge. more...
A bull from Romania meets a grisly death in Gaza following trans-shipment through Israel, winter 2014. Photo: Compassion in World Farming.

EU must end its cruel exports of live animals

Peter Stevenson

3rd October 2015

The EU's long-distance trade in live cattle to the Middle East inflicts horrendous cruelty at every point from farm to slaughter, writes Peter Stevenson, as well as posing public health risks due to grossly insanitary conditions. Live animal exports for meat should be stopped and replaced with a humane trade in refrigerated meat and carcasses. more...
Plenty more where that came from under the desert sands. Garage in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Jon Bowen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Yemen in dust, blood and flames, and the world is silent. Could it be oil?

Martha Mundy

25th September 2015

There's a plan afoot in Yemen, writes Martha Mundy, but no one is telling you about it. It's a plan so big that a country of 20 million people has to be starved and bombed into total submission, yet the world is indifferent. Yes, its oil. Lots of oil, and gas too, and lakes of fossil water, all lurking beneath the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula. How do we know? Because they told us. more...
Holed Palestinian water tanks, destroyed by armed settlers in the old city of Hebron. Photo: ISM Palestine via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Think California's drought is bad? Try Palestine's

Laith Shakir

23rd August 2015

As World Water Week kicks off in Stockholm today with a theme of 'Water for Development', the drought being deliberately inflicted on Palestinians is firmly off the agenda, writes Laith Shakir. While Israelis water their lawns, irrigate crops and swim in Olympic-sized pools, Palestinian communities a few kilometers away are literally dying of thirst. more...
Residents of Kh. Basaliyeh putting out fire caused by military’s training. Between Kh. Basaliyeh and Humsah. Photo: ‘Aref Daraghmeh,, B’Tselem, 25 June 2015.

Israel's military exercises ravage Palestine's Jordan Valley

The Ecologist

1st July 2015

Last month Palestinians of the Jordan Valley suffered a punitive regime of military exercises that displaced hundreds of people, set fire to farmland and holed water tanks - all part of Israel's plans to annex the region for Jewish settlements. more...
The JNF-sponsored Yatir Forest advances over a hill towards the Bedouin village of Atir. Photo: Amjad Iraqi / 972 Mag.

Israel's Forest of Yatir to expand over Bedouin village

Amjad Iraqi / 972 Mag & The Ecologist

23rd June 2014

It should be good news, but it's not. Israel's largest man-made forest is set for enlargement, but at the expense of a village where a Bedouin community has lived since they were resettled there in 1956. Its sister village is to be demolished so a new Jewish town can be built on its ruins. more...
A pair of Northern Bald Ibis engaged in courtship at their nest in the Palmyra desert the year of the rediscovery (2002). Photo: Gianluca Serra.

The Northern Bald Ibis is extinct in the Middle East - but we can't blame it on IS

Gianluca Serra

29th May 2015

Reports that Syria's iconic Northern Bald Ibis colony is endangered by IS's capture of Palmyra are mistaken, writes Gianluca Serra. The species is already extinct as a breeding population for reasons unconnected with IS. The war that is destroying Syria came only as the last straw for a long-dwindling species whose plight the world chose to ignore. more...
The edge of an experimental sheep grazing exclusion zone (to the right) within Al Talila Reserve, Palmyra, photographed in March 2008 in the midst of an intense drought period. Sheep quasi uncontrolled grazing was allowed to the left of the fence. Grazing

Over-grazing and desertification in the Syrian steppe are the root causes of war

Gianluca Serra

5th June 2015

Civil war in Syria is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes Gianluca Serra - a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a 'rural intifada' of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves. more...
Love and peace! Boys in the Jerash Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan gather to raise their hands in peace signs. Photo: Omar Chatriwala via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Undefeated after 67 years, Palestinians' thirst for peace and justice

Johnny Barber

15th May 2015

Today is Nakba day - when Palestinians everywhere remember in their native land, stolen homes, demolished villages and long-lost way of life with grief, anger and a deep yearning that endures from generation to generation, writes Johnny Barber. more...
A boy herding cattle near Mentao refugee camp in Burkina Faso. More than 18 million people in West Africa’s Sahel region are hungry and malnourishedas a result of the crisis. Photo: DFATD | MAECD via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Rebellion and hunger - how drought and food scarcity are fanning the flames of war

Nafeez Ahmed

13th May 2015

Food and water shortages and sharp price hikes in the necessities of life are driving civil unrest and rebellion across the Middle East and North Africa, writes Nafeez Ahmed. Adding to the problem, many of the afflicted countries are of strategic importance for their oil and gas, putting them on the front line of destabilizing 'counter-terrorism' operations. more...


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