Libmonster ID: U.S.-1243
Author(s) of the publication: P. TSAREV


The Euphrates River is formed by two rivers that originate in Turkey, flow through Syria, and meet in Iraq. The Euphrates then flows into the Persian Gulf. Each country has dams on its rivers, and both countries are constantly arguing with each other over the use of water accumulated through dams1.

Turkey claims that it provides 90% of its water to the Euphrates and therefore has the right to use this source more actively.2 Damascus believes that the so-called Turkish Southeast Anatolian Project-a network of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power stations - in the Euphrates, which is Syria's only reliable source of drinking water, has significantly reduced its water supply.3 After all, the sources of the Euphrates are located in Turkey, and it is she who mainly uses the waters of this river. Iraq claims that the waters of the Euphrates, while they reach this country, have already been repeatedly used by other States. According to Iraq, the Syrian dam, built on the Euphrates back in 1978.4, plays a certain negative role.

Syria and Iraq have even appealed to the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to resolve disputes over the dams.5

The problem is so serious that it once almost led to war. In 1990, Turkey suspended the river's water supply to Syria and Iraq altogether, saying it was necessary to test the largest of the dams. However, after three weeks, she still allowed the waters of the Euphrates to flow again.6

The water problem in Turkey is not as acute as in the Arab states. Nevertheless, the country is not going to give up the water resources that it has. On the contrary, it intends to use them, including the waters of the Euphrates, "in full". This naturally causes concern in Syria and Iraq, which are experiencing acute water scarcity.

Most of all, this problem affects Iraq, where the water supply system is in poor condition. Iraq's multi-purpose dams, pumping stations, and sewage systems were severely damaged during the first Gulf War.7 The situation worsened after US forces again invaded Iraq in March 2003.

War, sabotage and neglect of the rules for the use of water management facilities have negatively affected the technical condition of sewage systems. It is very difficult to restore water supply and sewerage systems here, primarily due to widespread corruption. Before the money allocated for the restoration of the economy reaches its destination, billions of dollars "mysteriously" disappear.8

On the fifth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, the Red Cross released a report that found that millions of people in that country currently lack access to clean water. At least a significant portion of your monthly earnings is spent on buying water.9 Those who do not have the means to buy water in the store, take water from wells and store it in large containers-

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bones. But such water is not safe for health. Several cases of cholera infection have already been reported as a result of drinking water from underground sources.10

The Baghdad authorities promise to build several large water treatment plants that will be able to provide drinking water to the entire city. However, this will not happen until the end of 2009. 11

The problem is compounded by the fact that Iraqi water resources are decreasing every year. According to Iraqi experts, more and more arid lands are turning into deserts, and the water level in the main rivers of the country - the Tigris and Euphrates - has reached the lowest levels in the recent history of Iraq. This is primarily due, as we said above,to the use of water by other States that build dams on rivers to irrigate their agricultural land and generate electricity. 12

It should also be noted that some of the water flows to Iraq from Iran. Even the country's main artificial lake, Hamrin, has lost about 80% of its water and is on its way to completely drying up, according to Mufawad Howar, an expert at the Kirkuk Provincial Water Resources Department. The lake is fed mainly by Iran's Alvand River, but Iranians also have difficulty with water. They are said to have turned the course of this river to fill their artificial reservoirs 13.

Lake Hamrin covers an area of 340 square kilometers and contains about 2 billion cubic meters of water. The lake's water is used for agricultural purposes by many farmers who grow fruits and vegetables 14.

Dangerously low water levels were also recorded in other large lakes in the country, for example, in the lake formed by the Mosul dam 15.

The drought that hit Iraq this year has made the situation even worse. The Iraqi government even appealed to Turkey and Syria to help solve the problem at the expense of the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.16

As for Syria, the overall situation in the country in the field of water resources is better than in other Arab States. The country's domestic resources are currently sufficient to meet the needs of the entire population. So that the water crisis does not come as a surprise to citizens, the country is carrying out systematic work on the modernization of water supply, sewerage and sewage treatment plants. For example, the Syrian government recently borrowed $ 90 million from a German bank for this purpose. euro 17.

To prevent "water disputes" from causing conflict, Turkey, Syria and Iraq agreed to resolve them only at the negotiating table. The initiative came from Turkey, which, after the World Water Congress held in 2007, decided to adjust its water policy. 18 In particular, Ankara agreed to apply a more equitable model for the use of water resources that go beyond Turkish borders, and proposed to resolve disputed water issues with Iraq, Syria, and Iran, Bulgaria, Greece and Georgia during bilateral meetings and negotiations 19.

During the visit of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to Turkey in March 2008, the parties decided to establish a "water institute" that will deal with all issues related to the joint use of water resources. Later, Syria20 joined the project.

The Institute, which will regularly bring together 18 experts from three countries (6 from each state), is planned to be located in the premises of the Ataturk Dam - the largest dam in Turkey. The experts will include both university professors and officials. Their task is to organize cooperation between countries and exchange water technologies. Having a lot of information in this area, Turkey will share it with its neighbors. The Institute will prepare a map of water sources in the region and propose measures for their effective use 21.

The Institute will not be limited to water resources issues only. Experts will also discuss and study related issues - the use of forest resources, environmental protection, etc. The results of their activities will be presented at the Fifth World Water Forum to be held in Istanbul in 2009. All expenses related to the maintenance of the institute are borne by the Turkish government 22.

page 14

Commenting on the establishment of the institute, Turkish Minister of Environment and Forests Veysel Eroglu said:: "There will be no wars over water resources in this region. Instead of arguing over water with our neighbors, we prefer to develop joint projects. If water resources are used efficiently, we can meet the needs of all parties. " 23

Negotiations between the three countries have already led to the creation of projects to build up the Ilisu and Asi dams (and, as a result, to build up water reserves in reservoirs). In response to Turkey's move, Iraq said it now agrees to the Ilisu dam project, which it has repeatedly opposed. Turkey also announced that it will help Iraq build its own dam near the city of Mosul. At the same time, Syria supported the idea of jointly building a dam on the Asi River, which is emerging in Syria and then aims to reach the Mediterranean Sea through the Turkish province of Hatay.24

The proposal to approve the "water institute" is a timely and far-sighted step by Turkey, the implementation of which will reduce tensions in relations between the three states. The first fruits of such cooperation are the agreements just mentioned on the construction of the Asi and Ilia dams.

1 World's Waler Resources Pace Mounting Pressure -

2 Ibidem.

3. Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Turkey-Iraq-Syria to Form a Water Institution -

6 World's Water Resources Face Mounting Pressure...

7 More than Wars over Water or Natural Resources and International Security -

8 Iraq, U. S. Move to Avert Baghdad Water Shortage - - 05 - 08.

9 Millions of Iraqis Lack Water, Healthcare: Red Cross -

10 Iraq, U. S. Move to Avert Baghdad Water Shortage...

11 Ibidem.

12 Water-scarce Iraq to Lose Major Man-Made Lake - - 06 - 21

13 Ibidem.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Iraq in Water Talks with Turkey, Syria as Rivers Run Dry - Iraqi Minister Seeks more Turkish water - Erdogan Pledges to Study Increasing Water Surge for Iraq -

17 Syrian-German Talks for Developing Damascus Countryside Waler -

18 Turkey, Iraq, Syria to initiate water talks -

19 Ibidem.

20 Turkey-Iraq-Syria to Form a Water Institution ...

21 Turkey, Iraq, Syria to Initiate Water Talks ...

22 Ibidem.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.


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P. TSAREV, SYRIA, TURKEY AND IRAQ ALMOST QUARRELED OVER WATER // New-York: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 24.07.2023. URL: (date of access: 25.04.2024).

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