The Southeastern Anatolia Project – How two Rivers may cause a Conflict

As stated in my first post „Water – The Quientessenz Of Life” mankind has an easy access to less than 1 % of all the world’s water supplies. I think this is an incredible low percentage! This 1 % is mainly captured in groundwater and just a very small portion of it is provided through lakes, swamps and rivers. Unfortunately this water is not treated with care due to wasting and heavy soiling in some parts of the world. According to “nature – international weekly journal of science” almost 80 % of the world’s population face an insecure distribution of fresh water.

Who’s river is it?!

When we have a look at rivers there is another problem: Rivers do not respect national borders, which leads automatically to some questions:
Which country can claim the river to be theirs, when it makes his way through two or more countries?
If a river flows to different countries, how much water is one country allowed to take out? How is that measured? By the quantity of the water? By the length of the portion that the specific country holds?
Are they even allowed to build damns and cut down the flow of water?

Water dispute on Euphrates and Tigris

According to “Before the Flood” written by Andrew Finkel ,a foreign correspondent in Istanbul for more than 20 years and author of the book “Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know”, Anatolia is a fairly underdeveloped region in the east of Turkey. In order to develop the region the Turkish government has launched a development program. Part of the project is to construct almost a dozen dams along two rivers: Euphrates and Tigris. The reason to that is to supply water to the local people and to develop the farming sector as well as generate hydroelectric power to become more independent from foreign energy. What may seem positive on the one side has been questioned many times. Regulating the flow of water will have mayor impacts on different ecosystems. It will also lead to resettlement of about 90,000 people. And not only national problems have come to light due to the GAP.

Euphrates and Tigris

Both rivers have their sources in Turkey and make their way down to Syria and Iraq until they flow in the Arabian Sea. Different sources I have consulted warn about the possible conflicts. According to “Planet Wissen” a German television broadcast, Turkey could literally cut off the flow of water, which would leave Syria and Iraq with less or even no water at all.

Full of Conflicts – Where will Water Scarcity lead to?

In respect of the damns a former Prime Minister of Turkey said: „The other states have sources of oil, we have water sources“.
Even though this statement has not been said recently, it makes clear what potential it carries: The resurgent conflict in the Gaza Strip, the ongoing Syrian civil war, Iraq still not stabilized and the conflict between Turkey and the PKK which plan their attacks from their retreat on Syrian and Iraqi soil. All seems to be unpredictable and explosive.
Goods news come from Waltina Scheumann, an expert on Turkey at the German Development Institute (DIE), states that Turkey has played a largely positive role so far: “Turkey has never exploited its position in the past”. Considering the fact that the country wants to join the EU it should be a mayor force of stability. For further Information you may want to read this article!

Nevertheless it remains to be seen how all will develop. Due to mayor delays in construction Turkey could not finish the project in 2010 and has therefore postponed it and with that a solution to the dispute over GAP.