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Analysis of Involved Parties of the Tigris and Euphrates Basin

Page history last edited by nixonbl@dukes.jmu.edu 12 years ago





     This page discusses the constraints and nature of our problem.


     There are pertinent issues facing those that live within the Tigris and Euphrates River basin. Turkey, Syria and Iraq must share water in a region that is already quite arid and prone to droughts. An example is the last drought in 2007 that lasted for three years, and severely effected agriculture in this area. Almost all of the water in the Tigris and Euphrates river basin originates in Turkey, and thus they are the ones with first access to the water.  The main river flow problem stems from Turkey and the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), which has set up a number of dams in the country. While Turkey is not feeling the pain of water shortage, their overuse of water is leading to water scarcity in Iraq and Syria. However, Turkey is not the only country erecting dams, Syria and Iraq both have built dams along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers causing an exacerbation to the water crisis.     


     There will always be a finite amount of water flowing through these regions, and the problem will only grow worse, as the future promises increased temperatures due to climate change, and possibly leading to more droughts and water scarcity, not less. These are givens. This uncontrollable factor will only make sharing water more difficult. Turkey, Syria, and Iraq must learn work together if they are to handle the water problem. The countries must learn to handle water management not just within their own countries, but along the entire  rivers watershed. The ideal scenario would be that Turkey accepts that there are two other countries downstream that rely upon the rivers to survive. Especially the country of  Iraq, which is so reliant on both of the rivers, but gets access to the rivers last, often leading to greater water shortages.  While a treaty or agreement could be implemented to dictate the amount of water Turkey must allow to reach the other two nations, other options should be considered, such as providing Turkey with incentives for releasing more water in exchange for another resource from a neighboring country. The water crisis within the Tigris and Euphrates river basin has revealed many other factors that contribute to the problem, and finding one solution may be impossible. But, having a starting point and using a possible treaty as a stepping stone to negotiations between the three countries, may be the first step in solving the water crisis within this region.


     After researching the involved countries of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, a list of the "Stakeholders" has been listed below. Table 1 describes who the stakeholders are and how they relate to the water crises, and what the stakeholders will lose or gain by not having adequate amounts of water flow from the Tigris and Euphrates River Basin.


Description of Stakeholders, and Interest Groups

 (People Needed at a Round Table Discussion for Water Rights within the Basin)


Table 1: Description of Stakeholders/Involved Parties.  Information for this table was researched and obtained by Wikipedia, the specific citations can be found under the reference page.

Stakeholder and/or Interest Group

Brief description of their identity (who are they)

Their interest in the water problem

Describe their level of organization?

Power they have to influence the water problem?  

Farmers Union - Iraq

The General Union of Agriculture Cooperative Associations in Iraq

Government office:

Oversees food productivity, represent Iraqi farmers

Water supply for crop irrigation.

Supply food. Economic growth. 

Medium. Farmers have knowledge of agriculture habits and traits.

Change/ Update irrigation practices

Farmers Union – Syria

The General Union of Syrian Peasants

Government office: concern for environmental protection, represent Syrian farmers

Control land degradation and desertification. Assists the peasant community.

Medium. Farmers have knowledge of agriculture habits and traits.

Change/Update irrigation practices

Farmers Union - Turkey

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA)

Mehmet Mehdi Eker

Government office of the Republic of Turkey

Responsible for agricultural and rural village affairs. Regulations to comply with EU standards.

Medium. Farmers have knowledge of agriculture habits and traits.

Change/Update irrigation practices

Prime Minister - Iraq

Nouri al-Maliki

Prime Minister

To obtain national security


Still a weak government in relation to neighboring countries. Negotiation of water treaties, and measurement of water flow at the boarders where the Tigris and Euphrates flow into Iraq.

Prime Minister – Syria

Adel Safar

Prime Minister

To obtain national security

Power under the president



Influence due to power of political position in government sector

President - Syria

Bashar al-Assad


To obtain national security. Increase influence with surrounding countries. Achieve a peace settlement (foreign policy)

Most power

Influence due to power of political position. Treaties for river inlet flow

Prime Minister- Turkey

Recep Tayyip Erogan

Prime Minister: head of government

Implemented reforms, reduced interest rates and increase per capita income.

Most power. PM is appointed by the president


Influence due to power of political position in government sector

Ministry of Water Resources – Also Ministry of Irrigation – Iraq  Latif Rashid



Responsible for water management in Iraq


Flooded the southern marshlands in Iraq in 2004. Change/Update irrigation practices

Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform – Syria

 (no leader listed)

Government office of the Syrian Arab Republic

Responsible for agriculture affairs in Syria


Water resources for economic growth and,  food supply for population

Ministry of Agriculture – Syria

Dr. Riyad Farid Hijab


Responsible for agriculture affairs in Syria


Water resources for economic growth and,  food supply for population

Ministry of  Irrigation – Syria

Georges Soumi


Responsible for creating the water policy for the state

High. Implementing policy for the countries agricultural needs

Water resources for economic growth and,  food supply for population

Republic of Iraq Ministry of Electricity

Contribute all efforts through Ministry Headquarters

Responsible for generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity. Increase the amount of electricity for a better way of life


Electricity is limited to eight hours per day, hydropower is in high demand to generate electricity to increase the quality of life for Iraqis

Ministry of Electricity – Syria

Imad Mohammad Deeb Khamis

Government office

Distribution and investment of electricity


Hydropower is used to produce electricity to the Syrian population

Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources - Turkey


Government office

Responsible for energy and natural resources in Turkey


Hydropower used to produce electricity

Ministry of Health – Iraq

Dr. Majeed H. Ameen

Government office

Health and Wellness of the Iraqi population. Increase therapeutic and medical services


Water is essential to life. Clean water is essential for a disease free country

Ministry of Health – Syria

H. E Dr. Ida Said

Government office

Confronting health challenges that effect the region during the struggling economic status


Water is essential to life. Clean water is essential for a disease free country

Ministry of Health – Turkey

Prof. Dr. Recep Akdag

Government office

Health and Wellness of the Turkish population


Legal Consultancy, draft laws, health transformation programs

Sunni – Shiites – Kurds


Cultural beliefs and requirements

Represent the voice of the people living along the river basin

Low, but varies depending on location within the river basin

Survive in the midst of a water crisis by relocation, and/or changing water use habits 


   Table 1 is an attempt to convey the stakeholders involved within the water crisis of the region, and how the actions of one stakeholder can effect the other relating to the problem. As described in the description of the stakeholders table the groups are: the Turkish, Syrian, and Iraqi governments, Syria/Iraq Agriculture and the Syria/Iraq Electricity Ministries, and general population living within this region. The Turkish government dictates the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. When Turkey allows flow of the two rivers to increase, there is an increase in the water that is available downstream to Syria and Iraq. Thus meaning more water for irrigation, that leads to increasing crop yield and more food for the people. Increased income for the farmers and a better quality of life. For the electricity consumer greater river flow increases the hydro-power electricity available for daily use, thus increasing the way of life leading to more food and medicine storage, and a better quality of life.


     However, if the river flow is decrease from Turkey the Syrian and Iraqi farmers will not be able to supply food for the people, thus a decrease in income for the farmer, and a poor quality of life will prevail. Food resources (vegetables/meat) would have to be imported into the countries if the food could not be produced locally causing higher prices at the market, thus costing more for all living within this region. As for the Syrian/Iraq electricity consumer a decrease in river water flow would decrease the hydro-power available to roughly eight hours of electricity per day. This means they would not be able to store perishable food or medicine and this would decrease their way of life, leading to a poor quality of life.





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