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News Turkey: Hopes Fade for Turkish Water as a Strategic Asset

A recent report in the business daily Referans suggests that Turkey’s hopes of using its water resources as a strategic asset to strengthen its ties with the Middle East countries are likely to be frustrated. The latest figures suggest that as the result of a combination of population increase, poor resource management and decreased rainfall, Turkey is far from being a water-rich country but is now in danger of becoming a water-poor one, with barely enough water to meet its own needs.

During the 1990s, Turkish government officials were fond of predicting that the country’s water would become a strategic resource, not only compensating for its limited reserves of hydrocarbons but–by supplying water to the countries of the Middle East–bolstering Turkey’s ambitions of becoming a regional superpower. The dams built on the Tigris and Euphrates as part of the $32 billion hydroelectric and irrigation Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) had already given Turkey a stranglehold over the two main rivers flowing through Syria and Iraq. …

After Turkey and Israel signed military training and defense industry cooperation agreements in 1996, there were also hopes that the rapprochement could be underpinned by Turkey supplying Israel with freshwater. … Particularly after the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Turkey in November 2002, there was also talk of using the agreement with Israel as the basis for the construction of a “Peace Pipeline”, which would carry Turkish water not only to Israel but to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinians. …

Even if it had been possible to persuade the various countries to bury their political differences, there had always been doubts about the economic feasibility of the water pipeline, which had been expected to take up to 15 years to build at a projected cost of $8 billion. It now also appears that, regardless of political and economic considerations, Turkey simply does not have the water to spare.

Contact information Gareth Jenkins (Eurasia Daily Monitor)
News type Inbrief
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Source of information Middle East Progess
Geographical coverage Turkey
News date 18/04/2008
Working language(s) ENGLISH