Thursday, July 25, 2013

Water projects for the Nile Basin

Actually Egypt, if it worked with all it's neighbors instead of threatening them, has an almost embarrassing set of options for literally over 100 + billion cubic meters of additional water each year in addition to what flows past the Aswan right now. As to whether that water should flow past the Aswan is another subject.

First if Egypt stopped subsidizing fuel and just gave vouchers to poor people they would save billions. Those billions could be used almost immediately to begin to repair and upgrade the irrigation, water supply and waste management of the entire Nile River. This amount alone (estimated at some 6 billion cubic meters per year currently wasted) is more than the amount of water annually that the Renaissance Dam would stop in the few years it took to fill. After that the water could flow again as usual and both sides win.

Secondly there are numerous projects envisioned for the Congo basin to stop the horrific flooding that happens each year in the upper reaches of the basin. This annual flooding destroys vast amounts of area each year and disrupts tens of thousands of lives. 

Two proposals, one to send flood waters from the upper Uele River basin via tunnel to Uganda to Lake Edward could benefit both nations and add additional water to the flow of the White Nile.

The second proposal, long ago put forward by an Italian engineering firm would create the Transaqua Project to divert as much as 100 billion cubic meters of water per year from the upper reaches of the Congo highlands river basin and send the water northwards in a canal instead. The canal would not only stop flooding below the canal it would create an inland water highway for a vast region currently not very accessible. 

As there is also a similar project envisioned on the Congo/Central African Republic Border called the Oubangui Water Transfer Project that would transfer up to 50 billion cubic meters of Water each year from a proposed Polombo Dam on the Congo River to the Lake Chad basin in Chad. The 50 billion cubic meters would just keep the Lake and basin at parity. 

But by splitting the 100 billion cubic meters of the Transaqua between half going to the Oubanqui Project and the other half going along the Mbomao River between the Central African Republic and the Congo into the Nile basin this would mean the Lake Chad project would actually increase the Lake yearly and return it to a much larger size. The lake could then again eventually  be used by people in four nations that border the enlarged lake.

(There is also some who envision transferring another 50 billion or so cubic meters from another stretch of the Congo and sending it north to the Uele River to also send it downstream to the Polombo Dam but this in not included in current figures.  However is this was a reality the amount diverted from the Congo Basin to the Nile Basin could double to 100 billion cubic meters per year).  

The use of the Mbomao route would also mean that the water could be diverted by way of Wau South Sudan to enter the Bahr al Ghazal River north of the Sudd swamp area and thus the entire amount of 50 billion cubic meters of water would bypass the Sudd. 

Then there is also the envisioned Jonglei Canal to also bypass the Sudd with up to 40 billion cubic meters of water per year. However with the addition of the Mbomao-Ghazal transfer system there would need only be something like 20 billion cubic meters or even less bypass the Sudd and allow the Sudd ecological area to maintain its current rich  biodiversity.  Agricultural usage along side the Sudd would then benefit more of the people of South Sudan.  

That comes up to something like 70 to 75 additional billion cubic meters of water flowing below the Sudd each year.  This amount basically equals the current flow of the Blue Nile for Sudan and Egypt as of today.    And for each basin providing the water it is actually doing them a huge favor. As to the diversion of 150 billion cubic meters of water from the upper Congo Basin, the Congo currently sends something like 1.2 trillion +  cubic meters of water into the Atlantic each year unused.   So the amount taken for the Nile and Chad basins would be a little more than 10 %

The next point to be considered is that Sudan and South Sudan  have literally millions of acres or hectares of unused arable farm land going to waste. Instead of sending the vast majority of the 70 billion cubic meters below the Aswan, to utilize this water in the Sudan and South Sudan would be both more productive as well as perhaps allow for some water used in the Lower Nile to be put to non agricultural uses. 

The final almost embarrassing gigantic source of water for Egypt would be to lift water from the Mediterranean Sea to the El Difta Plateau on the northwest side of the Qattara Depression perhaps by wind power or solar or both.  Between the height of the Plateau and the steep drop, the amount of sea water that could be desalinated using the high pressure of the drop is almost limited only to the length of the Plateau.   Through better water management both above and below the Aswan it is also possible that a substantial portion of Nile water could also be diverted each year to help fill the Depression.  

The Depression could hold eventually, if only raised to sea level, something along the lines of 1,200 cubic kilometers, yes cubic kilometers of fresh water.  It would be twice the size of Lebanon.  And it could conceivably be raised above sea level a ways to hold even more water.  At any level, the eastern shoreline could become a very viable alternative for living space instead of along the Nile.  The southwestern border could remain park preserve area.   The addition of such a large body of water would also increase the amount of wind near the northern plateau in pumping water into the inland sea and for usage as power elsewhere in the nation.  There would also be the possibility of wind turbines in the water.   

For a nation that built the pyramids thousands of years ago, to help construct a few pipelines and canals in the Congo, Upper Nile basins and create a massive lake in the desert should be relatively simpler. 

As for financing I would believe all the upper nations, because they would all benefit from the projects, as well as nations such as China and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States who could all get food from the Sudan agricultural basin would be more than happy to pitch in.  And Egypt, instead of being the demanding villain, would be a happy neighbor in a happy neighborhood.  

As for the Qattara project, removing that amount of water from the ocean system would be a handy project for industrial countries wanting to offset the effects of industrialization and sea level rise. 

And of course it could employ literally tens of thousands of Egyptians in current and future jobs. Oil fields in the Depression could just be converted to continue pumping under water. The moisture pump created by the great body of water could change the entire dynamic between the Depression and the Nile and beyond.  Wild life in the Depression now could just be moved to higher ground along the southwestern  banks of the inland sea.  

OR......... one could just threaten to shoot someone or hold their breath until they turned blue.

 I would think that a nation with literally multiple centuries of massive works projects history might want to go with the "helping thy neighbor" method instead. It would be a group of projects to look back on with pride in the coming decades.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Comment by me in, July 8, 2013

What key people in government, the press, academia and the average person in the street in Egypt, along with those same groups in Libya and Tunisia need to do is read the US Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers and the US Constitution, making sure to note the dates. I assure you it would be most revealing and perhaps have many rethinking myths about how nations are founded and succeed. 

Very careful reading of the US Declaration of Independence one finds that it is not a document announcing the formation of a single nation to remove British tyranny. It is a document announcing that 13 separate states are joining together to remove British tyranny, but that they intend to remain 13 separate states at the end of the revolt. For well over 100 years most of the states had related one on one with Britain and with each other. Each had their own separate governments and legislative bodies. There was not a lot of love lost between most of the states up until the time of the Revolution. It was only through necessity over time that the 13 states realized that they would have to form a more singular nation to not only win the war but to survive afterwards. They could not make it individually. Even at the start of the new nation it was under the Articles of Confederation that basically gave the central government the right to deal with foreign powers and that was about it. All other powers rested with each individual state.

Again the states began to realize that going it alone individually  each state was not going to prosper. A good 13 years after the Declaration, and very careful arguments in the Federalist Papers, the US adapted a remarkable separation and balance of powers in the US Constitution to please all sides in order to form a worthy functioning government. Only then, 13 years later did they form a truly United States of America. It should be noted however that for about the first 50 years it was, as a rule, stated that "The United States ARE". It was only after long slow integration did the phrase become widely stated as "The United States IS". Even today, some 235+ years later the US is still a work in progress. 

This realization must come very soon to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia that they do not have a common enemy in the form of a foreign nation. What they do have is a common enemy in that they are all economic and political catastrophe's waiting to happen. But as a single nation they have unbelievable potential to find those resources, talents, markets, diversity, and yes similarities that already exist within a united and common nation. Only in sharing all of their common resources will they have a very great chance to succeed both economically and politically. 

The same balance and separation of powers needed by Egypt to accommodate both Coptics and Salafists is the same kind of compromise needed to find common ground between Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. If structured well it could very well lead to the addition of Sudan in a few short years. 

A newly united nation would have the ability to rebuild Libya, drastically improve the water system in Egypt, re-invigorate markets from tourism, agriculture, transportation, apparel, building materials, the list goes on. 

And at the core of such a transformation has to be reconciliation across the board. Libya cannot have 1/6th of its population stranded as diaspora in Egypt and Tunisia. Such talent, in all nations, cannot be wasted. Any progress has to start now, immediately with reaching out to all involved that the Muslim Brotherhood must be a part of any solution going forward. Many must keep positions in the government. Their press must be allowed to speak. You cannot build a greater nation without them. 

Three years ago the Arab Spring was impossible/unthinkable. One month ago a change in Egyptian government was impossible/unthinkable. A United Arab Republic of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia might not only be not impossible, it might be an absolute imperative to economic, political, cultural and humanitarian success in the entire Arab region. 

@tms5510. One might find just the idea, not even the fulfillment, but again the idea of a United Arab Republic might find the nations of the Levant also realizing that they are much better off as one large nation of their own, as was envisioned in the early 20th century before the West carved it up. People speak constantly of the disintegration of many of the nations of the Levant. I think the opposite might some day soon become the reality when they all come to realize that they are better off as one large nation than as a group of 5 or 8 or 10 smaller nations. Egypt, Libya and Tunisia could lead the way.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thousands dead. Over a million displaced. What are YOU doing about it?

There has been a great upheaval in North Africa in what has become known as the Arab Spring.  And yet people still suffer, the economies of North Africa are more perilous than ever.  The search for equality before the law for all citizens continues.

I have written this blog to try to ignite other solutions, other options, than the few that have been proposed both within and outside of North Africa.  

And yet if there is no great discourse among diverse people then solutions will not be found and thousands more will die and  a million more might  be displaced.

If you have reached this site I ask that the very least you could do is to pass it along to 10 other people that you know.  And they to 10 more.  Let other options be expressed.  Let other voices be added.  This is but the smallest spark in search of a great light of debate on new ways to stop the violence and the misery.

It is little enough to ask to perhaps find others among your friends who might come together and help to put and end to the suffering.  Please forward this to others if you have made it this far.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Miracle of the Governorates: Muhafazat, Shabiyat, or Wilayaa

There is clearly one major factor in trying to establish a second United Arab Republic (UAR).  The failure of the first UAR between Egypt and Syria was the overwhelming dominance of Egyptians in both the united government and the united military.  The first UAR lasted barely from 1958 until 1961.  (During the same period there was also loose confederation with what was then North Yemen.)

While it was Syria who first proposed the Republic, out of fear of the growing dominance of the Communist Party of Syria, and the broad Syrian support for the Pan Arab ideals of Gamal Abdel Nassar of Egypt, it was Nassar, the Egyptian President,  and his terms for unification that doomed the Republic from the very beginning.

A unicameral 600 member National Assembly was divided 400 members for Egypt and 200 for Syria.  From that initial position of strength the Egyptian government, military and economic structure of the UAR became totally dominated by the Egyptian government.  The more Egypt benefited from unification the more Syrians suffered.

It is by reviewing the basic governmental flaws of the initial United Arab Republic that solutions can be implemented to avoid such total dominance by any one country or group in the second United Arab Republic.   The following is but an example but dramatically points out the great fact of the present and established number of governorates or Muhafazat (Egypt) 27, Shabiyat (Libya) 22 and Wilayat (Tunisia) 24.
It is this ratio of long standing governorates that is key to a balance of power within the new Republic, if the new Republic takes advantage of this good fortune.

The initial lesson to be learned is that in order to more equally divide the balance of power the new United Arab Republic should adapt a bicameral or upper and lower house form of legislative method.  The combination of this two body system and the utilization of the existing governorate structure will ensure not only the actual compromise of power sharing but also the underlying feeling of equality between nations that will be the key to long term success.

I would propose a lower house with 342 members and an upper house with 150.  This is very near the numbers now proposed by the current Egyptian constitution.  I would slightly alter the length of terms of the lower house to 4 years instead of 5 but continue the 6 year terms enacted for the upper house.  But the major alterations to both houses are suggested to be these:

The Lower House:

We must first start by dramatically pointing out the current population disparities with a United Arab Republic member countries.  Egypt, 85 million or 83% of the total population of a united country.  Tunisia 11 million citizens or 11% of the total population and Libya with 6 million or 6% in a United Arab Republic that would have 102 million people.  How to have both the appearance of equally access to power sharing but actual access to sharing power?

It is my proposal that the lower house consist of 142 members elected 2 from each governorate of the three existing countries.  (Of important note here, there are currently 73 governorates, but I have proposed that the  two governorates of the Sinai be given freely to the Kingdom of Jordan, and any subsequent resulting nation state of Jordan.  I will not go into detail here as to the reasons but will assume that it is done and that the governorate total is 71.)

To this number of 142 members add approximately 200 members, (give or take just a very few) to give a total in the lower house of 342 members.  The 200 members would come from assigned voting districts throughout the United Arab Republic based upon equal representation.  This would mean districts of approximately 500,000 citizens each, designated by perhaps an election commission or a court and ratified by the upper house and the President.  The districts would change every 10 years based upon census data to re-balance districts due to changing populations.  While the members would serve 4 year terms I would propose that 1/2 of the lower house members be elected every 2 years so that only 1/2 of the seats were up for contest in that 2 year period.  It would also be set that no two members elected by governorates would be elected in the same election.  Thus every two years the single member representing each respective governorate would be elected by the entire population of the governorate.

This would mean for the lower house that the following total memberships would be chosen in a 4 year, 2 election cycle.

 Libya would get 44 governorate seats and 12 proportional seats for a total of 56.  This is 16% of the 342 member assembly from a district with 6% of the population.

Tunisia would get 48 governorate seats and 22 proportional seats for a total of 70.  This is 20% of the 342 total seats from a district with 10% of the population.

Egypt would get 50 governorate seats and 166 proportional seats for a total of 216.  This is 63% of the 342 total seats from a district with 83% of the population.

Egyptian members would continue to dominate the clear majority of seats in the lower house.  It is my belief that slowly, over time, the populations of the Libyan and Tunisian sectors would achieve population growth greater than the Egyptian sector because of job opportunities and quality of life movement choices.  The 200 seats ratios may change over time with census figures always changing.

The Upper House:

The Upper House shall have approximately 150 members.  I the case of the Upper House they will almost entirely be chosen as 2 from each governorate of the United Arab Republic.  This amounts to 142 members. I would also encourage the addition of 8 members to be elected from the non Muslim populations of the United Arab Republic.  Initially this would be 6 members from the former Egypt and 1 each from Libya and Tunisia.

It is my hope and belief that the Upper House members should be elected to 6 year terms.  I would however highly recommend the addition of a 1/3 of the entire body be elected for those 6 years terms every 2 years.  This would mean that at any one given election only 1/3 of the body will be changing members.  This would instill continuity and avoid wild swings in political actions based upon trends of the moment in political ideas.

Again it is my hope that no two Upper House members be elected in the same election year.  I would also hope that the division of the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 divisions also hew closely to being divided among the three current nations.   Thus Tunisia with 48 Upper House members would elect 16 each election cycle with the 1 non Muslim member being the only exception.

This would leave the representation of the Upper House as such.  45 seats for Libya (30%), 49 for Tunisia (33%) and 56 for Egypt (37%).  This gives both a combined Tunisia--Libya faction 63% of the votes and also non Muslims 5% of the votes in the Upper House.

Ideally this would mean that all legislation must pass both Lower and Upper Houses of the government that the ability for the citizens of Tunisia and Libya to feel represented fairly in the government would be based upon institutionalized facts and laws.

It is also my hope that this method would continue to direct shared power also to the many various and diverse governorates throughout the United Arab Republic.  Over time the balance between the three former nation states as a continuing concern for equality will disperse.  It is my belief that this very same system will then manifest itself to serve more of a populated group of governorates verses more sparsely populated governorates where ever they may be located.

But again, when first even remotely contemplating such an idea as a second United Arab Republic I was continually stopped from further serious pursuit by the knowledge of the vast difference in populations of the three possible countries for unity.   It was only that "AHA" moment when I realized the current governorate divisions within the three nations, and that they had been in existence, with few changes, for quite some time.

For this proposal, or any other proposal, whether it is  a political union or perhaps a common market of trade, or just closer ties to discuss common problems. there will be the constant need to acknowledge Egypt's overwhelming numerical numbers in reaching any sort of climate of equality of ideas and power sharing.

As I have state earlier, such ideas also as the capital being moved to Bayda Libya are also concepts of compromise that must continually be recognized and addressed.

And yet on a completely different basis of equality for success, it must be remembered that in a new United Arab Republic the lack of a border stretching from the Atlas mountains to Sudan also means that literally millions of citizens have a chance to live in a new place and start a new life.

In a country that once had 6 million people, Libya currently has over 1 million of those citizens living in either Egypt or Tunisia as refugees and unwelcome at home at this time.  And yet Tunisia and Egypt also have millions unemployed.

One of the great promises of a United Arab Republic is that of those 1 million displaced Libyans there are 1 million Egyptians or Tunisians to take their places.  It is that fluid movement of people, ideas, investment money and rule of law, that knows no borders between old countries that will drive the United Arab Republic to success.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Al Bayda, Capital of the United Arab Republic

This is my argument for Al Bayda Libya to be the capital of a United Arab Republic of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

The number one criteria in my opinion is that the new capital of the newly united country should not be any of the current capitals of Tunis, Tripoli or Cairo.  The new capital will be, as the new nation will be, a new start.  Each of the current capitals has an entrenched bureaucracy and an overwhelming bias towards its current government.

The only way for a new country to truly create a new government is to do it in a new city.  A new bureaucracy derived from a mixture of citizens from each of the individual old countries will be needed.  It is also a way to take the best of each and leave the worst of each behind.

It should also be noted that each of the former capitals will still be a major metropolitan economic, social and cultural center for not only the old nations but as part of a new and much larger nation.  It is my belief that by taking the central government role from each city they will be in turn able to focus much greater resources and talent upon making each city a more vibrant and livable city.

We next go with geographic consideration.  This is perhaps the easiest to justify.  In uniting three nations it is logical that the capital would be placed in the nation at the center of the three or Libya.

The third consideration for Libya is that it will be, for the foreseeable early future, the main economic source of foreign capital income.  This too is a primary consideration in placing the capital somewhere in Libya.

Because of the first three considerations we must now determine where in Libya to place the new capital of a United Arab Republic.

As noted Tripoli has been rejected for many notable reasons.  It is on this same set of arguments on a national scale that I also feel that Benghazi and Sabha should not be considered.  Here too in a much larger United Arab Republic the three cities of Tripoli, Banghazi and Sabha will be regional metropolitan centers with great influence not only in their particular regions but on a national scale as well.

Of the three major regions of Libya I felt that the new capital should be somewhere in the Cyrenaica district. This was based upon geographic proximity to Egypt, by far the population center of the newly united countries.

I also felt it should be on the Libyan Coastal Highway.

While I considered a few other cities; Derna, Tobruk and even Sirte to the west, I concluded that Derna and Tobruk were perhaps not large enough and Sirte had great damage and a recent history that would be hard to overcome to be considered for the capital.

That left me with Al Bayda.  Or just Bayda if you will.

It had at one time, briefly been the old capital and was being considered again under the last regime to again be the capital but nothing came of it.

The city is, however, large enough to accommodate the infrastructure needed for a capital of a country of 100 million.  The city is also home to many industrial, financial and agricultural industries so there is a knowledgeable local population that has the skills and human resources to provide the basis of a bureaucracy.

The city also has a temperate climate to allow for year round ability to function as a comfortable city.

Bayda is also home to a very diverse population of citizens.  They represent much of the ethnic diversity found right across the entire United Arab Republic already.  

The city also has a regional environment that allows for sustainable growth of the city into a larger metropolitan center, with access to water and other resources.

Finally the city represents, to me, the very qualities that a United Arab Republic would take pride in considering the choice of the city as the capital.

It is a capital city born of compromise and yet represents the best that the entire new nation has to offer.  I  feel that any citizen of the United Arab Republic would come to the capital and  take pride not only in the city, but in themselves and their new country.

As the city is built to accommodate the new larger nation, so too will the entire nation be rebuilt and grow to be a nation that anyone could be proud to call home.

Libya cannot afford to ignore 1 million Libyans.

The preceding link to an article by is an in depth and compelling overview of the various factions within Libya on a national, regional, city and tribal level.  

The one fact, however, that stuck in my mind after reading the entire article was that over 1 million Libyans are now diaspora in Tunisia and Egypt.  Most of them fled before, during and after the revolt.  Most fled in fear of their lives because they had been a part of the government, educational or business community before the revolution.

As in the collapse of the Iraqi invasion by the US in 2003, the wholesale removal of anyone from the Baath Party from any similar role in the government has been the single most political, economic, social and humanitarian mistake of the entire region.

Vast numbers of Iraqi's were members of the Baath party just to hold a job.  In nations the world over when a new political party comes to power the entire membership of the party leaving power are not hounded from their jobs and forced to flee for their lives.

At the very time that Libya needs many of the talents and knowledge of the vast majority of those million people who have fled, they remain refugees in neighboring countries.

Sadly the reverse is undoubtedly true of both Tunisians and Egyptians as well.

This can also be seen throughout the Levant from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.  Hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens fleeing to neighboring countries, mostly Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to escape horrific outcomes.

This is not only a tragedy on a monumental scale it is the single most compelling reason for Tunisia, Libya and Egypt to seek unification.  

The same is true of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories.

In a united Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, a United Arab Republic if you will, the hundreds of thousands of diaspora could be put to use rebuilding a united nation.  If, in the short term, their talents are not wanted in their former home countries, in a United Arab Republic they could find productive use in another part of the nation.

This is certainly not only true of the diaspora who have fled, but also to many of those who have remained within their respective borders of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

I am thinking of those of the armed forces, police, civil service, judicial system and business owners and professionals that could easily find work in another city or governorate.  This is of course based upon the idea that an Egyptian police officer could just as easily be a police officer in Tunisia or a judge from Libya could also be a judge in Egypt.

But most importantly is is about the literally hundreds of thousands of small business owners who are desperately needed to rebuild a thriving economy who are kept idle in a foreign land.  This is a resource, even more precious than oil, that is going to waste.

There is also the continuing scenario that many of the most influential business elite, in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt alike who fled sometimes decades ago to seek lives in distant lands.  Many have now returned home to countries such as Libya and are demanding old businesses and properties be returned to them.  While this may be the moral and legal option it still does not justify completely throwing away the experience and talents  many of those who took their places gained over the years.   It is a vital resource that is needed within the area of the United Arab Republic.  And if the three nations are to survive economically in the crucial next few years it is going to take everyone, and all their talents, to make it work and thrive.

In all three current countries you have almost exactly the same principle groups vying for a voice in the coming society.  Whether religious, ethnic, tribal, educational or economic back round they are all to be found in all three countries.   They will all still be there in a United Arab Republic.

There will still be the compromises and legal structures to be worked out whether it is just Tunisia or Libya or Egypt or the United Arab Republic.

The one advantage that the United Arab Republic has is that not only are all the physical resources of each individual country now available to the group, so to can the human resources be brought to greater use somewhere in the much larger United Arab Republic.

None of the three countries at this stage of the recovery has the luxury of ignoring the talents of up to 1/6th of its entire population as in the case of Libya.

Again it is worth repeating that in the case of all three revolts, the main goal of all three was jobs and social justice.  All three.  It is still the main goal.  The United Arab Republic can get them there much sooner.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Libya: Fault Lines of the Revolution SWP Berlin Org.

Fault Lines of the Revolution:

Political Actors, Camps and Conflicts in the New Libya

by Wolfram Lacher.  SWP Berlin    Fault Lines of the Libyan Revolution. SWP Berlin

May 2013

Translation by Meredeth Dale

Fault Lines of the Revolution