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The Euphrates-Tigris River Basin. By Ziad Al Awar. Description of the Euphrates-Tigris River Basin. The Euphrates-Tigris river basin consists of 4 riparian states: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

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Description of the euphrates tigris river basin l.jpg
Description of the Euphrates-Tigris River Basin

  • The Euphrates-Tigris river basin consists of 4 riparian states: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

  • Euphrates and Tigris start in Turkey and flow through Syria and Iraq where they end in the Arabic Golf

  • Almost all the water of the Euphrates and a major part of the Tigris come from within the Turkish borders

  • The Euphrates is the longest river in southwest Asia (2700 Km) and its maximum average annual volume is 35.9 billion m3 at Hit, Iraq

  • The Tigris is the second longest river in southwest Asia (1840 Km) and its maximum average annual volume is 70.4 billion m3 at Baghdad, Iraq


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Description of the Euphrates-Tigris River Basin

  • The main tributaries of the Euphrates are: The Karasu, the Murat, the Balikh and the Khabur all of them originating in Turkey (98% of the Euphrates water originate in Turkey).

  • 45 % of the Tigris water originate in Turkey and the rest come from tributaries originating in Iran.



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Strategic Value of the Two Rivers: Turkey

  • The Euphrates and Tigris rivers together constitute just 28% of Turkey’s total water supply

  • GAP Project:

    • 19% of the economically irrigable area in Turkey

    • 22 % of the country's economically viable hydropower potential

    • Cover a socially vulnerable part of Turkey


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Strategic Value of the Two Rivers: Syria

  • Syria has little water resources other than the Euphrates and Tigris.

  • The east part of Syria is mainly a desert with most of the agricultural areas located in the west and south of the country (the basin area).

  • If the GAP project is totally implemented by Turkey, Syrian per capita withdrawals will be by year 2025 about 16 % what they were before the start of the implementation of the project.

  • Syria is much more concerned with the Euphrates River since the Tigris does not really enter Syria.


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Strategic Value of the Two Rivers: Iraq

  • Iraq depends totally on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers for its water resources.

  • Iraq has historically used the two rivers for its agricultural and navigation use.

  • If the GAP project is totally implemented by Turkey, Iraqi per capita withdrawals will be by year 2025 about 27 % what they were before the start of the implementation of the project.


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Treaties

  • many treaties among 1913 and 1937 which does not have much importance for contemporary interstate relations:

    • 1913: treaty between Great Britain, Russia, Persia and Turkey for the regulation of Shatt al-Arab.

    • Two treaties in 1921 and 1923 between France and Turkey for the Euphrates and Kuveik Rivers.

    • 1930: a commission for demarcation of the Turkish-Syrian frontier on the Tigris is established.

    • 1937: a treaty between Iran and Iraq about navigation on the Shatt al-Arab.


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Treaties

  • 1946: a treaty between Iraq and Turkey which states that Turkey has to consult with Iraq before building any construction on the Euphrates so that the needs of the two countries can be satisfied.

  • 1982: Iraq and Turkey formed a Technical Committee which resulted in some exchange of technical information.

  • 1983: Syria joined the Technical Committee formed by Turkey and Iraq.


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Treaties

  • 1987: Turkey and Syria signed the Protocol of Economic Cooperation. This Protocol secure for Syria a minimum amount of flow in the Euphrates in exchange for Syria cooperation on border security.

  • 1990: Iraq and Syria signed a treaty which gives Syria 42 % and Iraq 58 % of the Euphrates flow regardless of the flow variation from year to year.


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Water Projects

  • Iraq:

    • Three dams completed in 1958, 1962 and 1981: Dokan, the Derbendi Khan, and the Hamrin.

    • The reservoir at Hindiyah: not yet completed

    • The link between Euphrates and Tigris: very controversial.

  • Syria:

    • Three dams: The Tabqa Dam (14.2 km3 storage) in 1975, The Tishreen Dam (1.9 km3 storage) in 1991, and the Ba’th regulatory Dam.


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Water Projects:TurkeyGAP

  • Total Area of 75358 Km2 or 9.7 % of the Turkish area

  • 19 % of 8.5 million hectares of land suitable for irrigation in Turkey lies in the GAP Region (1.7 millionhectares)

  • 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power plants

  • 27 billion kWh of electricity (22 % of the country's economically viable hydropower potential)

  • Population expected to exceed 9 million in the year 2005 (population at the start of the project around 3.5 million)

  • Level of income in the region expected to increase by 5 folds


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Questions and Topics for Discussion

  • What factors affect the reaching of an agreement on the allocation of water between the different states?

  • Why all treaties and negotiations are among Syria, Iraq and Turkey? What is the role of Iran (the fourth state sharing the basin)?

  • Should be dealt with the two rivers as one basin or different agreements has to be reached on each of the two rivers?

  • Knowing that the Euphrates is much vital to Syria than the Tigris, how can this be used in reaching agreement between Syria and Iraq?


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Questions and Topics for Discussion

  • Is it water that is influencing politics in the basin or is it politics which is influencing water resources allocation?

  • Water evaporation is the highest in Syria between the basin states implying a larger need for water to produce the same amount of crop. Is this an advantage or disadvantage for Syria? Economics vs. Equity??

  • Does the GAP Project (which is controversial from the Syrian and Iraqi point of view) establish a historical right for Turkey in the basin water??


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Questions and Topics for Discussion

  • What will be the impact of a new Kurdish state over parts of Turkey, Iraq and Syria on the hydro-politics of the region?

  • What will be the impact of the subdivision of Iraq into three different states on the water sharing in the basin?

  • Are the treaties signed by the Iraqi government at the time of Saddam Hussein (being non-representative to the population) bonding to Iraq?

  • Water as a tool in local politics: The GAP project??? Drying of the Iraqi marshes (swamps)???


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