The Euphrates, Turkey’s other weapon against the Kurds in Syria

The Kurdish administration that manages northeastern Syria accuses Turkey of cutting off the water in the Euphrates to weaken it. A pressure tactic already used by Ankara before.

“The Turkish government has lowered the level of the Euphrates in order to put pressure on the Kurdish semi-autonomous administration in northeastern Syria”, denounced the director of the Euphrates dams in Syria, Ahmad Ossou, relayed by the pan-Arab site Raseef22.

On Tuesday March 2, the Kurdish administration indicated that, since the end of January, Turkey had divided by four the quantities of water coming from the Euphrates. This rationing has an effect on water supply and electricity production.


Longest river in West Asia, the Euphrates, which originates in Turkey and crosses Syria and Iraq before emptying into the Persian Gulf, has always been a subject of friction between these three countries, in particular because of the Kurdish question. Ditto for the other major river in the area, the Tigre.

Turkey, which built dams on the‘Euphrates and the Tigris, thus controls the level of water entering Syria and Iraq. ”

In 2020, indicates Raseef22, Turkey had already reduced the level of the Euphrates reaching Syria, prompting the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration to ask the United Nations to put pressure on Ankara.

The pan-Arab site recalls that Turkey had already used the water card in the late 1990s against Syria, which had ended up expelling from its territory Abdullah Ocalan, the leader and founder of the PKK [Parti des travailleurs du Kurdistan, mouvement armé kurde] who will be arrested in 1999 and imprisoned in Turkey.

Today, there is no official agreement between Turkey, Syria and Iraq regarding the sharing of the water of the Euphrates between the three countries. ”

But in 1987, Syria and Turkey signed a five-year protocol that calls for Ankara to provide 500 m3 of water per second in Damascus, indicates Raseef22. “This temporary agreement is still used today as a basis for discussion between the two countries”, explains the site. In recent years, Syria has repeatedly asked Turkey to increase its share to 700m3/ s, but to no avail.

In 1989, Syria signed another bilateral agreement, but with Iraq, providing that 52% of the waters of the Euphrates flow back to Baghdad.

In this context, Raseef22 notes that the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources said on Monday 1is March, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted a lasting solution on the water issue between Iraq and Turkey.


In Arabic, raseef means “sidewalk”, like that of this street which has been rumbling since the outbreak of the revolts in 2011. And 22 is the number of member countries of the Arab League, which have 360 ​​million inhabitants.


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