Environmental Issues of the Middle East:

Royce J. Bitzer


The environmental issues in the Middle East don’t receive as much attention as they should. Regions such as North and South America, Africa, and Asia have much more help and attention, even though the Middle East has problems of equal value. The current economic and political state of the region often catches all of most people’s attention and makes them forget about the environmental issues.Forgetting about these issues can be critical because they are the cause of many of the regions political problems. Other problems that add to these issues are the region’s difficulties of sharing scientific findings and research among the countries and its lack of information about the biodiversity in the region.


Some of the major environmental issues in the Middle East are the marshland drainage in Iraq and the environmental damage in Palestine. There is also believed to soon be a huge shortage on water supplies in the Middle East and many more conflicts will result from fighting over the remaining water. The country of Jordan is also having many environmental issues such as deforestation and desertification.

The Mesopotamian Marshlands

These are, by far, the largest marshlands in the Middle East and they happen to reside in Iraq. the drainage and destruction of these marshlands, according to the United Nations Environmental Program, has caused a decrease in bird population in areas such as Ukraine and the Caucasus and the extinction of seven different natural plant and animal species from the marshlands. Other results are loss of soil salinity in the Marshes. this has deprived Iraq of crucial agricultural land and has caused the loss of dairy production, fishing, and rice cultivation in the region. The drainage and destruction has also caused the desertification of 7,500 square miles and increased salt water intrusion and increased overflow of pollutants into the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, causing disruption of fisheries in the Persian Gulf.
Image1 This is a picture of the Iraqi Marshes that have not been destroyed.

Jordan Environment:

The country of Jordan has many environmental threats such as a rapidly growing population, industrial pollution, wildlife hunting, and habitat loss due to development in the country. The rapid flood of people coming into the country since 1948 has caused it to overuse many of its natural resources and a huge shortage of water which has caused the drainage of underground aquifers and damage to the Azraq Oasis. The country is also suffering from major loss of its forests due to deforestation and desertification. Jordan used to be known for its huge forests and its verdant vegetation. The two worst years of destruction were 1908 and 1917. During those years, Ottoman Turks carried out massive felling operations to fuel their Hijaz Railway from Damascus to Madina. All of the destruction is killing of large numbers of different animal and plant species and also causing major erosion in areas due to loss of plant roots to hold soil in place.
Image2 This is an example of what deforestation looks like.