"During the 1990s, Turkish government officials were fond of predicting that the country’s water would become a strategic resource, not only compensating for its limited reserves of hydrocarbons but--by supplying water to the countries of the Middle East--bolstering Turkey’s ambitions of becoming a regional superpower. The dams built on the Tigris and Euphrates as part of the $32 billion hydroelectric and irrigation Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) had already given Turkey a stranglehold over the two main rivers flowing through Syria and Iraq (see EDM, March 13). Turkish officials planned to supplement the GAP’s importance as a strategic asset by building pipelines carrying freshwater from Turkey to the countries of the eastern Mediterranean littoral...
"Over the past 20 years, the annual volume of water available per capita in Turkey has fallen from 4,000 cubic meters to 1,430 cubic meters, which means that Turkey now ranks among the countries with insufficient water resources. In comparison, Syria has 1,200 cubic meters per capita, Lebanon 1,300 cubic meters, Iraq 2,020 cubic meters and Western Europe 5,000 cubic meters (Referans, March 29-30).
"Turkey is already beginning to suffer from a lack of water; 2007 was the driest summer in Turkey in a decade. At one point, the reservoirs that supply the capital Ankara were only 4 percent full, forcing the municipality to cut water supplies to once every three days. Inevitably, the drought also hit Turkish agriculture, which accounts for around 72 percent of water use in the country. According to recent figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (Turkstat), as a result of the drought, in 2007 production of wheat fell by 13.9 percent, cotton by 10.8 percent, corn by 7.2 percent and rice by 6.9 percent (Turkish Daily News, March 31). Another hot summer is expected in 2008. As of the end of March 2008, the reservoirs that supply Istanbul and Ankara were still only two-thirds as full as they had been in March 2007 (NTV, April 2)."
This will only exacerbate the frequent water tensions between Turkey and Syria.