Natural Resources and Security: Africa and Middle East

Natural Resources and Security: Africa and Middle East




This class will look into the importance of water, minerals, land and the climate as sources of conflict and cooperation within and across these countries. There will be discussions of the international and national laws related to water, minerals and climate, with a specific emphasis on how the problems and weaknesses in such laws and tenancies can bring very complex cultural and international stresses. The many economies, polities, cultures and societies of the countries will be discussed in the context of natural resources problems and solutions. Various forecasts and projects of natural resource security issues in the regions will also be discussed and analyzed.


There will be a special focus on water issues related to the Nile, the Jordan River Basin, the Tigris and Euphrates, and underground aquifers in North Africa. The international effects of national projects, such as the GAP project in Southeastern Turkey, the National Water Carrier in Israel, and the damming of certain rivers in Sub-Saharan Africa will be debated. Minerals issues will include discussions on coltan in the Congo, conflict diamonds in various parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and the energy-precious metals fueled conflicts that have occurred in places like Angola. Potential and actual instabilities, and their connections with natural resources, will be discussed. Oil and natural-gas fueled conflicts in the Middle East, alleged and actual, will be considered in both contemporary and historical contexts.


The class will begin with an historical overview of natural resources conflicts and the uses of natural resources in conflicts. Connections with terrorism and organized crime will be considered at various levels, but will focus much on precious metals and precious stones. The class will end with a hopefully hopeful note on how the very resources that may have caused such brutal conflicts in the past could be used properly to help resolve conflicts in the future, and lead to proper and more equal developments in various countries in the regions. This class will not just look at the problems, but also look at the potential solutions in the works, and others that may also be coming down the line from various diplomatic and other quarters. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Kimberly Process (blood diamonds), and other such initiatives and activities will be discussed in detail. The place and importance, and limitations of single-nation responses will be analyzed, as will the importance of NGOs, the UN, the World Bank, INTERPOL, and other international organizations in trying to resolve resource-based conflicts will be considered.


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