Home Institution

Yale University

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


Is water a target or an instrument of violence? Is it an amplifier of conflict or a means for cooperation, a source of growth or a force of destruction? The purpose of this report is to determine how threats of water shortage and the lack of a trans-boundary management plan has prompted states in the Euphrates-Tigris River Basin to leverage the shared resource as a political weapon to preserve national interests and ascertain regional authority. The scope of this report examines the domestic policies, economic objectives, and foreign-policy interests that compose Turkey, Syria, and Iraq’s national stakes in the trans-boundary watercourse. Paying specific attention to Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Development Project (GAP) this paper investigates the geopolitical strategies stakeholders employ by using water as a source of material bargaining power and regional authority. The design of this report incorporates mixed methodological practices assessing quantitative scientific and economic data in conjunction with qualitative research of government statements, academic reviews and reports issued by non-governmental organizations. To develop a thorough analysis of the multifaceted interests of state and non-state actors in the Basin region this report includes four interviews with experts in the field of international water and environmental law, specialists in the Euphrates-Tigris region, a civic water engineer and post conflict advisor, and an export risk insurance agency involved in Turkey’s dam construction.


International and Area Studies | International Relations | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Other Political Science | Political Science


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