Thursday, August 31, 2006

Planting The Seeds Of The Big One

Before going further I suggest that you read The U.S. Library of Congress' entry for Iraq's water resources which can be found here.

"The increasing importance of water in geopolitical affairs is escalating the potential for conflict over water resources among nations. It is estimated that there are presently at least ten places in the world where war could erupt over dwindling water resources. Unfortunately the majority of these sites are in the vulnerable Middle East. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers are shared among different countries and with the depletion of water in the Middle East more conflicts have arisen. Projects are being developed to exploit the water resources in the area (Topkaya 1998). Projects like Guneydogu Anadolu Projesi (GAP), also referred to as the Southeast Anatolia Development Project, will create irrigation and hydropower and will use a lot of water (Lowi 1995). The total amount of water that is planned to be used by Turkey, Syria and Iraq exceeds the total flow capacity of the rivers (Topkaya 1998)" - Fahey 2001. [Emphasis mine - mfi]

There's an article in Karbala news [Arabic Language] about Turkey's dam construction projects. Don't let the fact that it's so short deceive you. This story is seriously bad news. The article starts by quoting an official source at the Ministry of Water Resources as saying that the project of building a dam on the Tigris would reduce the flow to Iraq from 20.93 billion cubic meters to 7.9 billion cubic meters.

"The source added in a press statement that such a shortfall in yield from the river has serious repercussions on Iraq in the areas of agriculture, drinking and power generation, industry and the revival of the marshes and the environment."

The article concludes that it is noteworthy that the Turkish government has engaged in damming the "Euphrates and Tigris rivers without taking into account Iraq's right to these rivers" and that "Great Turkey" is doing everything in it's power to add to the suffering of the Iraqi people, that it is not enough that Iraqis be killed by "terrorism's knife" but that now they must "die from thirst as well."

One of my first instructors used to regularly start his lectures on sources of conflict in the Middle East by saying that "Once they start fighting about water they won't stop until one side or the other is wiped out." If you're new to the topic of water as the flaspoint for war in the Middle two well written and fairly comprehensive resources are:

  1. "Water Wars" in the Middle East: Ted Thornton
  2. Water Resources in the Middle East: Colin Fahey


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