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Civilization’s Drying Cradle: Water Politics in the Tigris-Euphrates River Basin

Civilization’s Drying Cradle: Water Politics in the Tigris-Euphrates River Basin published on

Authored by United States Army War College

The finite water supply of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is increasingly imbalanced with the demands of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Turkey’s GAP project, which will eventually include 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric plants in the upper Tigris-Euphrates basin, gives Turkey tremendous ability to control both rivers, and provides significant political and economic influence over Syria and Iraq. The countries have failed to reach a water-sharing agreement, and Turkish and Syrian stockpiling to fill reservoirs nearly led to military conflicts with Iraq in 1974 and 1990. Recent drought-induced low river flows have led to accusations that Turkey is holding back more than its fair share of water. This paper details the nature of water shortages in the Tigris and Euphrates basin, discusses relationships between upstream-downstream riparian states, analyzes whether international water laws are sufficiently developed to influence Turkey, Syria, and Iraq toward a long-term solution, and explains the importance of a U.S. role, with policy options for promoting equitable water-sharing between these states. Lastly, this paper describes steps Iraq must take to improve its water security, with or without a water-sharing agreement with Turkey and Syria.

Publication Date:
Oct 30 2014
1503029824 / 9781503029828
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Related Categories:
Political Science / Government / International


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