Member IWRA, Geography Department, (Water Issue Group), SOAS, University of London, UK.
The water crisis of the Tigris and Euphrates has reached a very dangerous level, especially for Syria and Iraq. Turkey's stated political objectives to build large dams under its Great Anatolian Project (GAP) have been the source of this crisis. This project consists of a total of 22 dams, (capacity of around 120 billion cubic meters) and contains nineteen hydroelectric electricity generating stations which are expected to be completed by 2010.
Over the past ten years, Turkey had consistently refused to discuss the ramifications of the GAP developmental plans. It had also refused to consider any regional ramifications, human rights, breaches of international justice or historical and political relations with the rest of the Arab world Turkey further refused to supply sufficient water shares of internationally owned rivers, according to international water sharing policies and legal agreements.
This shortage of supply has effected all local water systems, as far south as the Southern Iraqi Marshlands, which themselves cover an area of 15,000 - 20,000 square kilometres. These marshlands are situated north of Basrah City occupying a triangular area between three cities of Basrah, Misan and Nasiriya, discharging their water to the Arab Gulf via a delta system, through the Shutt Al-Arab estuary.
This water situation has also affected the entire region's macro environment and weather patterns, as well as the creation of more than half a million Marsh Arab refugee. Over the past ten years. The UN in Geneva has established an agency to care for the marshland's displaced refugees.
The Southern Iraqi Marshlands are major wetlands of the region and the world. They are considered as a world heritage site according to their historical and archaeological importance to the region.
The marshlands people form an important historical link to the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian civilisations in the former Mesopotamia, who have given to the world significantly important scientific gifts, such as the modern numeric system of math, and the basis of interpersonal communication through the alphabet.
International agencies must be rallied, to prevent any further deterioration, and provide for total restoration of the riparian countries. Failure to immediately enact such actions can only result in the continually expanding conflicts and human miseries, which now blight the effected regions.