Crystal Unclear: The Challenges of Water Politics in the Middle East

By Park, Gloria | Harvard International Review, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Crystal Unclear: The Challenges of Water Politics in the Middle East


Park, Gloria, Harvard International Review


Due to its importance, water is a double-edged sword. In addition to water's life-giving properties, it acts as a major source of conflict in areas that have a limited supply. Middle Eastern countries have had to divide water sources while ignoring all political boundaries, which has generated a great deal of hostility. Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, which share the Tigris-Euphrates water, and Israel and Palestine, which share the Jordan River basin, are cases illustrative of the relationship dynamic among riparian states and of the effect a scarcity of water has had in the greater Middle East.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Although cooperation of the riparian states is crucial in settling water conflicts in the Middle East, inequalities among the involved states render successful cooperation a difficult process, especially when the countries are left to their own accord. Still, sharing water through multilateral agreements would provide the simplest solution to the disputes over water. While incorporating technology is another possible solution to the water problem, almost all technological solutions to water scarcity are either too expensive or too risky, due to the potential for water shortage. Four individual inequality types amongst riparian countries--geography, resources, economy and military capacity--have kept fair water-sharing agreements from becoming a political reality. Some of these inequalities can and should be addressed.

Inequalities in Geography

There are many inequalities among the disputing riparian states that make cooperation between the stronger and weaker states difficult. One of these inequalities is that of geographic location. Usually the upstream riparian has advantages over the lower riparian states. This is clearly seen in the case of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Turkey is the upstream riparian of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Syria and Iraq, meaning that Turkey controls the headwater of the two rivers. This significantly boosts Turkey's political position, since Ankara has a say in how much water will flow down to the lower riparian states. With the ability to decide the amount of water that will be distributed among the three neighboring states, Turkey's regional influence increases drastically.

Geographic location affects more than just the political positions of the riparian states. Downstream riparian states are greatly affected even by projects that take place outside of their borders, since those projects might decrease the amount of water that flows into their lands. Starting as early as the 1970s, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq have had major difficulties in designing a working solution to sharing the Tigris-Euphrates water. The most recent and enduring problem has risen from Turkey's ambitious project called the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), which plans on building 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power stations and irrigation systems on the Euphrates. Eight dams were completed by 2005. Additionally, Syria is also taking on an extensive irrigation project to cover almost 773,000 acres of land. Such projects have devastating implications for Iraq, the downstream neighbor. After the completion of these projects, it is expected to receive almost 50 to 80 percent less water. Not only will Iraq see a reduction in its quantity of water, but it will also face a reduction in water quality due to field drainages and industrial pollution in the upper states. Because of its advantageous geographic location, Turkey can use the Tigris-Euphrates water without much concern for its downstream neighbors. Encouraging cooperation in such an unbalanced context is difficult, as Turkey wants to maintain its regional influence and ambitious damming projects.

In the Jordan River basin, Israel also exercises political supremacy over other riparian states due to its superior geographic location. According to Frederick Frey and Thomas Naff, Israel uses water as an instrument for "establishing and maintaining control over a majority population in the interests of a minority group. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Crystal Unclear: The Challenges of Water Politics in the Middle East
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.