Saturday, January 9, 2010

Politics, not water is the real problem in the Formerly Fertile Crescent

"But rainfall, or lack of it, is not the only culprit, he says. Syria and Iraq blame Turkey's huge network of dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for reducing water supplies by 50 percent.

Turkey is the site of the headwaters of a river system that Syria and Iraq depend on. An informal agreement determines the flow downstream.

"When we had bad relations with Turkey, they reduced the flow of water despite the agreement, and now, thank God, we have excellent relations with Turkey, and hopefully, we will not see any cutoff of water," Sukkar says.

Turkey says there is enough water for everyone, but Syria and Iraq waste their share. Amery, the water expert, says the Turks are partly right.

"The issue is water but it goes far beyond water," he says.

Amery says the key to head off a water crisis is more efficient management of a scarce resource. But he adds politics, not climate, is the problem.

"A lot of Arabs believe that Turkey is trying to assert itself as a regional superpower," he says, "and water is being used as a tool to advance that interest."" (Thanks D.)

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