Transnational Water Issues in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq: Planning and Investing for the Future
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The connection between access to clean and reliable water and social unrest is a relationship that is beginning to be fully understood. The Euphrates River provides drinking water for nearly 27 million people, water for irrigation, and hydroelectric power for millions of people in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Due to reduced rainfall and increased temperature, combined with overuse, the amount of water running through the Euphrates River has reached a new low point in recent decades. This phenomenon is a serious threat to peace and stability. Turkey, the upstream country, is heavily reliant on the Euphrates for drinking water, irrigation water, and for producing hydroelectricity. Water infrastructure and management in Syria has been degraded due to conflict. Before the war, water resources were managed poorly, which led to political unrest due to loss of livelihoods and urban migration. Agriculture in Iraq has been devastated due to reduced water flow and poor water management practices. Iraq receives roughly 98 percent of its water resources from the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, and Iraq has seen its share of river flow plummet in recent years. There exists no trilateral agreement between all riparian states dealing with the Euphrates. There have been several bilateral agreements regulating flow, but these have often been ignored, or are impossible to enforce. The necessary measures needed to create sustainable practices regarding the river cannot be taken without an enforceable trilateral agreement.
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