Dec 13 2017

Turkey weaponising water for political influence – expert

Aware of its geopolitical assets, Turkey uses dams to control the flow of fresh water to its neighbours and to conflict zones in order to extend its influence, Ben Abbs, an expert on global water security, wrote.

“Since 1975, Turkish dams have cut the volume of water reaching Iraq by 80 per cent and Syria by 40 per cent,” Abbs wrote, saying that in the 1990s both countries protested Turkey cutting off their water.

In 2014, Erdoğan ordered the Turkish dams on Euphrates to hold water back, reducing water levels in Syria's Lake Assad, near Islamic State-controlled Raqqa.

Water from rivers which originate in Turkey is not only vital for agriculture and direct consumption in Iraq and Syria, Abbs said, but also necessary to produce oil, which both of these economies are heavily dependent on.

Climate change and population growth in the region will make water an unsustainable resource, halving the amount of water available per person, according to conservative estimates, Abbs said, making it a likely cause of future political friction and economic instability.