On Thursday of last week, government ministers from Turkey, Iraq and Syria met in Ankara to discuss water shortages in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that run through all three countries. Both rivers are at record low levels, with rainfall in the area down 46 percent over the last three years. Iraq and Syria are facing serious droughts and Turkey is already delivering more water to the other two countries than it is receiving in rainfall and does not plan to increase the amount.
Environmental and political analysts have been prognosticating for years the possibility of a “water war” in the Middle East as competition over dwindling supplies of water exacerbates already tense political relations. As climate change and a surging growth in population reduce the amount of water per capita, UN reports indicate that 18 countries in the Middle East will be facing water shortages by 2025. In many countries in the area, the population has doubled and in some cases even tripled over the last 50 years and is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds while the available water resources have remained constant or have been depleted by drought.
Any efforts to bring peace to this unstable region would be greatly affected by such a shortage, not to mention what would happen in other countries hit by an onslaught of millions of refugees fleeing drought, starvation and war. This is an issue that must be attended to as this increasingly likely scenario would undermine anything that we could ever hope to accomplish in Iraq and Afghanistan, cause an unfathomable humanitarian disaster and create a major security threat both to ourselves and our allies in Israel and in Europe.