Need for Regional Talks on Consequences of Turkey’s Extensive Dam Building

2023/02/26 | Economy, interview, top news

Strategic Council Online - Interview: A university professor, saying that definitely the dam building project in Turkey will, sooner or later, damage the country itself, underlined the need for regional diplomatic pursuit and serious talks with Turkey.

Reza Abedi Gonabad, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, pointed to the serious risks of Turkey’s dam building for the neighboring countries and stated: Considering the extent of Turkey’s dam building within the framework of “GAP” and “DAP” projects over the Tigris, Euphrates, Aras and Kura rivers and given that Turkey is the upstream country of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan in terms of the source of the common rivers, it is necessary to pay attention to the international laws of the countries of the region in this regard.

Referring to the political problems and insecurities that Iraq and Syria have been dealing with in recent years, the university professor continued: In this situation, attention to environmental issues and water crises was turned into a secondary issue in those countries and Turkey continued its dam building projects during that period. Unfortunately, in recent years, decrease in rainfall, improper use of water resources, and development policies that were not based on environmental protection faced the regional situation with a serious crisis.

The analyst of Turkey affairs, saying that this year, the snowfall situation in the east and south-east of Turkey, where the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters are supplied, is not in a good condition at all, and last year the amount of rainfall was more, added: The snow cover maps show that those two rivers will definitely face a critical situation and may cause many problems in Syria and Iraq.

Criticizing Iraq’s policy of drying up some groves, reeds and marshes near Iran’s borders, especially by Saddam’s regime, with an aim of military use, Abedi added: Unfortunately, there is no regional agreement regarding the use of water among the countries of the region while, the centers of crisis and the centers of fine dust have affected other countries in the region in addition to Syria and Iraq.

Emphasizing that if an important part of the water for agriculture and development is kept behind the dams, it will definitely cause many damages, he added: Turkey’s dam building projects will definitely damage the country itself sooner or later; as last year, we were witness to a sandstorm in the south of Turkey and a fire in its forests. Now the important cities of Turkey such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Bursa are also facing the challenge of water supply and the volume of water reserves of a large and industrial city like Istanbul has almost reached the lowest level in the past decade.

The expert on Turkey affairs explained the political and social consequences of the reduction of water entering Syria, the serious damage to the country’s agriculture and creation of numerous crises and their impact on internal insecurity and said: Definitely lack of economic and security, aggravation of poverty and spread of unemployment in some countries adjacent to Turkey that are prone to crisis will spill over to Turkey and the country will also suffer.

Emphasizing the necessity of diplomacy with the countries of the region and pursuing serious talks with Turkey, Abedi continued: Turkey must be convinced that continuation of anti-environmental policies and reckless exploitation of water resources and not paying the water rights of rivers will have heavy consequences for Turkey as well. It is a delusion to think that such consequences will affect only other countries. Turkey is also prone to crisis, we are witnessing ethnic conflict in it and issues arising from economic challenges. Such issues will definitely fuel conflicts.

Reminding that the policy of Iranian government is based on neighborhood policy, the university professor said: Iran and Turkey have many dependencies and commonalities with each other in various fields, and while there are competitions, they have common interests; therefore, it is possible to discuss common interests within the framework of the neighborhood policy that has attracted the attention of the two countries and hold expert discussions with Turkey. Iran should adopt active diplomacy and conduct serious talks with Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and even Armenia. Those countries can also put pressure on Turkey. When the pressure is multilateral, it will definitely be more effective.

Stating that the “DAP” project has far more and wider risks for Iran, he emphasized: We should go towards a regional agreement and in this regard, we should use the capacity of regional organizations to bring those countries together and create a basis for dialogue and persuasion. In addition, the capacity of the United Nations and other international institutions, environmental institutions and non-governmental organizations active in Iran, Iraq and Syria can also be used. Civil society and non-governmental organizations are very strong in Turkey and their capacity can also be used.

Abedi added: It is necessary to wake the elites and academic circles of Turkey up and establish communication between the civil institutions of those countries using public diplomacy, and in this way make them aware of the dangers ahead.

He said: The consequences of fine dust and the continuous decrease in the flow of rivers should be explained and elucidated to the Turkish people that those conditions may lead to regional tensions, widespread migrations and numerous crises.

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