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© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/157180609X432860 International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361–391 Asymmetric Power: Negotiating Water in the Euphrates and Tigris Marwa Daoudy* Political Science Department, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, P. O. Box 136, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland (E-mail: [email protected]) Received 9 June 2008; accepted 5 September 2008 Abstract is article addresses the conflict over the Euphrates and Tigris waters from the perspective of negotiation theories, by examining the role of power in upstream/downstream negotiations. Conceptual and empiri- cal links are established between water, negotiation (structure, process), power (asymmetries, coalition dynamics, strategies, development of alternatives) and security (direct/indirect interests such as national security, border security, territorial claims, economic development and environmental concerns). e study concludes that asymmetries in power have favored upstream/downstream interactions towards bilateral if not basin-wide arrangements. e framework shows that traditional elements of power, such as upstream positions, military and economic resources, do not constitute the only sources of power. Bargaining power can also determine the dynamics between respective riparians. Time constitutes an important source of power, and interests vary over time when political settings and security concerns shift. Downstream or more vulnerable riparians can invert situations of power asymmetry by acting on the basin-dominant riparian’s interests and thus reduce its alternatives. Syria’s use of ‘issue-linkage’ in its interactions with Turkey over water and wider security issues serves as the primary example. Keywords asymmetry; bargaining power; BATNA; cooperation; Euphrates; GAP; Iraq; interests; issue-linkage; Kurds; negotiation; PKK; structural power; strategy; Syria; Tigris; Turkey Setting the Stage 1 e vital importance of water is exacerbated in arid and semi-arid regions such as the Middle East. In the case of Syria and Turkey, at the core of their political and strategic interaction lies the Euphrates and Tigris waters. e Euphrates and Tigris * ) Marwa Daoudy is a lecturer at the Political Science section of the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies (Geneva, Switzerland), and visiting professor at the University of Geneva (IOMBA) and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). She is the author of e Water Divide between Syria, Turkey and Iraq: Negotiation, Security and Power Asymmetry (2005) and co-author of Transboundary Water Cooperation as a Tool for Conflict Prevention and Broader Benefit-Sharing (2006). She has also pub- lished widely in the area of negotiation theory and practice, and on Middle Eastern politics. 1) is paper draws from Daoudy, M., e Water Divide between Syria, Turkey and Iraq, Negotiation,

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  • Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/157180609X432860

    International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391

    Asymmetric Power: Negotiating Water in the Euphrates and Tigris

    Marwa Daoudy*Political Science Department, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies,

    P. O. Box 136, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland(E-mail: [email protected])

    Received 9 June 2008; accepted 5 September 2008

    AbstractTh is article addresses the con ict over the Euphrates and Tigris waters from the perspective of negotiation theories, by examining the role of power in upstream/downstream negotiations. Conceptual and empiri-cal links are established between water, negotiation (structure, process), power (asymmetries, coalition dynamics, strategies, development of alternatives) and security (direct/indirect interests such as national security, border security, territorial claims, economic development and environmental concerns). Th e study concludes that asymmetries in power have favored upstream/downstream interactions towards bilateral if not basin-wide arrangements. Th e framework shows that traditional elements of power, such as upstream positions, military and economic resources, do not constitute the only sources of power. Bargaining power can also determine the dynamics between respective riparians. Time constitutes an important source of power, and interests vary over time when political settings and security concerns shift. Downstream or more vulnerable riparians can invert situations of power asymmetry by acting on the basin-dominant riparians interests and thus reduce its alternatives. Syrias use of issue-linkage in its interactions with Turkey over water and wider security issues serves as the primary example.

    Keywordsasymmetry; bargaining power; BATNA; cooperation; Euphrates; GAP; Iraq; interests; issue-linkage; Kurds; negotiation; PKK; structural power; strategy; Syria; Tigris; Turkey

    Setting the Stage1

    Th e vital importance of water is exacerbated in arid and semi-arid regions such as the Middle East. In the case of Syria and Turkey, at the core of their political and strategic interaction lies the Euphrates and Tigris waters. Th e Euphrates and Tigris

    *) Marwa Daoudy is a lecturer at the Political Science section of the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies (Geneva, Switzerland), and visiting professor at the University of Geneva (IOMBA) and the Universit Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). She is the author of Th e Water Divide between Syria, Turkey and Iraq: Negotiation, Security and Power Asymmetry (2005) and co-author of Transboundary Water Cooperation as a Tool for Con ict Prevention and Broader Bene t-Sharing (2006). She has also pub-lished widely in the area of negotiation theory and practice, and on Middle Eastern politics.1) Th is paper draws from Daoudy, M., Th e Water Divide between Syria, Turkey and Iraq, Negotiation,

  • 362 M. Daoudy / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391

    Rivers originate in the mountains of Eastern Turkey. Th ey ow into Syria and Iraq and join the sea at the head of the Arabic-Persian Gulf. Both rivers have seen the rise of ancient civilizations and the early development of irrigation practices dating back to the Sumerian and Akkadian periods (40005000 BC).

    Any con ict over water can be said to exist when an actor feels constrained in the achievement of national objectives through the unilateral use of the resource by another actor. Th is paper addresses the con ict over the Euphrates and Tigris waters from the perspective of negotiation theories, by examining the role of power in upstream/downstream negotiations. Recent decades testify to a wide and enduring range of informal and formal negotiations over the rivers alloca-tions. In order to evaluate past and prospective agreements, an analytical negotia-tions framework is developed with a view to revealing the direct and indirect issues at stake and the coalition dynamics at work. Th e analysis establishes con-ceptual and empirical links between water, negotiation (structure, process), power (asymmetries, coalition dynamics, strategies, development of alternatives) and security (direct/indirect interests such as national security, border security, territo-rial claims, economic development and environmental concerns).

    Th e combined negotiation and power perspectives force some interesting ques-tions. What is the weight of water-sharing in the power dynamics of the three key actors Syria, Turkey and Iraq? What have been and are the negotiation strategies of the downstream riparians with regards to the powerful upstream neighbor? Given its apparent overwhelmingly greater share of geographic, political and eco-nomic power (which will be examined later in the text), why has upstream Turkey agreed to a minimal allocation to downstream Syria? Perhaps paradoxically, the study concludes that asymmetries in power have favored upstream/downstream interactions towards bilateral if not basin-wide arrangements. Primary undisclosed negotiation sources will serve as the main references. Th e framework will show that traditional elements of power, such as upstream positions, military and eco-nomic resources, do not constitute the only sources of power.

    Bargaining power can also determine the dynamics taking place between respec-tive riparians. Downstream or more vulnerable riparians can invert situations of power asymmetry by worsening the basin-dominant riparians alternatives and thus reducing its degree of freedom. Syrias use of issue-linkage in its interactions with Turkey over water and security issues serves as the primary example. Regional instability is generally increased, but short-term cooperation over water may in fact be promoted as bilateral agreements have been e ectively reached. One con-clusion that can be generalized from the analysis is that power asymmetries do not

    Security and Power Asymmetry, which was published by CNRS Editions (Paris) in 2005. Th e book was awarded the Ernest Lmonon 2005 Prize by the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences at the Institute of France. Particular thanks are due to Tony Allan, Jerome Delli Priscoli, Nils Petter Gleditsch, Aysegul Kibaroglu, Melvin Woodhouse, Mark Zeitoun and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

  • M. Daoudy / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391 363

    necessarily determine the results of negotiations. But the impact of power is lim-ited as negotiation outcomes are bilateral and temporary (Turkey and Syria, Syria and Iraq). Th e overall allocation remains in the hand of upstream Turkey in the case of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. We also observe that, despite several crises within the process, water has not brought riparians to militarized con ict. Based on the analysis, the paper will o er recommendations for future cooperation in the region.

    Th e Conceptual Framework: How to Negotiate Water Agreements in Situations of Power Asymmetry

    In international river basins, powerful riparian states are found in all positions up-, middle-, or downstream. Th e interaction between the riparians of the Euphra-tes and Tigris Basins can be characterized as a structural dilemma (Rubin and Zartman 1995: 349) or process by which the relatively more vulnerable actor paradoxically reaches a satisfactory outcome in negotiating with the relatively more powerful riparian, despite asymmetry in their mutual resources. Turkey has an enhanced power position due to its geographic upstream position as well as military and economic resources. It can apply unilateral measures in order to maximize its interests by multiplying storage infrastructures and delivery systems. Downstream riparians tend to perceive upstream water projects as a threat to their access to water. Th e following sections will examine analytical debates on negotia-tion, power and options available to actors in situations of power asymmetry.

    Negotiation Analysis

    As a social or political interaction, negotiation analysis has been rigorously con-ceptualized by a wide range of disciplines, from law, to sociology, management, social psychology or political theory. Di erent methodologies exist, from formal social-psychological laboratory experiences (Kelman 1965; Deutsch 1973), game-theoretical (Bartos 1974; Ponssard 1977) or economic models (Zeuthen 1930; Coddington 1968; Cross 1969) to inductive approaches which privilege histori-cal (Freymond in Kremenyuk 1991: 121134) or process-oriented analysis (Zart-man and Berman 1982; Lax and Sebenius 1986). Negotiations have also been conceptualized in the framework of hydropolitics (Dinar 2000). Th e appeal to theory allows an identi cation of relevant in uencing variables and their interac-tions. Negotiation can be de ned as the process which combines diverging values into an approved decision (Zartman 1978: 1) or a potentially opportu-nistic interaction (Lax and Sebenius 1986: 87). Th e integrative and distributive nature of the negotiation process was rst addressed in the literature by social-psychologists Walton and McKersie (1965). Th e distributive dimension can be summarized as a zero-sum (win-lose) game, in which one actor wins at the expense

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    of others and each tries to changes its utilities in its favor. At the opposite, an integrative/cooperative approach (win-win) seeks to nd a solution that mutually satis es the di erent parties, by integrating their respective objectives.

    Instead of this mutually exclusive analysis, we contend that negotiation processes are mixed and can be integrative as well as distributive over time, with phases of resistance, obstruction and abstention (Bruns and Meinzen-Dick 2000: 28) and phases of actual exchange. Our hypothesis concurs in this with later work by Lax & Sebenius (1986) and Mastenbroek (1989), who identify a latent ten-sion between value claiming (con ict) and value creation (cooperation) within a process which is predominantly con ict-driven or cooperation-oriented. In the case at hand, the process of negotiation is de ned as an extended exchange over more than forty years among the three riparians of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers on the issue of water-sharing, with peaks of con ict and periods of mutual cooperation.

    Nature and Sources of Power: Structural and Bargaining Power

    Th e role of power in negotiations is a particularly controversial concept (see Daoudy 2005: 4147). From a behavioral science perspective, Dahl de nes power as As ability to get B to do something that B would not do otherwise (1957: 202). Th is de nition will be enlarged later to include the many di erent facets of power. Th e capacity to set and control the negotiation agenda, but also to avoid taking decisions or to a ect outcomes through the creation or reinforcement of institu-tional frameworks and values was initially conceptualized in relation to power (Bachrach and Baratz 1962: 948; Bachrach and Baratz 1970: 7, 8 & 44).

    For Stein (1989), this capacity to set or delimit the agenda can already be traced back to the pre-negotiation phase, during the crucial process of getting to the table, during which actors set their preferences, manage their domestic poli-tics and build coalitions. For Guzzini (1993: 449 & 457), the concept of power cannot be inde nitely enlarged; it implies an interaction between States using their relatively di erent resources in order to a ect social interactions while crea-ting options and establishing constraints on certain alternatives. Lukes (1991: 136) introduces a third and less visible power dimension, originating from indi-vidual or collective agents, and which prevents con ict from expressing itself over interests. In line with this, he later conceptualizes an actors power as his ability to avoid or resist performing positive actions (2005b: 480).

    Th e exercise and nature of power, its sources and in uence on negotiations have been at the core of theoretical debates (Schelling 1961; Bacharach and Lawler 1981; Zartman and Rubin 2000). Schelling, for example, argued early on in favor of tautological perspectives which equate power with the negotiations outcomes (Schelling 1960). Lukes was among the rst to address the underlying dilemmas that accompany any theoretical e ort to o er a comprehensive de ni-

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    tion of power.2 For instance, proponents of the realist and neo-realist schools on the study of power (that will not be di erentiated in the present discussion) would argue that the relative distribution of power is a function of capabilities (Gilpin 1981; Morgenthau 1957; Waltz 1979).3

    Sources of structural power can be based on the economic and military resources that are possessed by states and, more speci cally, riparian states. For other schol-ars, resources become signi cant sources of power rather by the ability to mobi-lize such possessions and the will to do so (Crozier and Friedberg 1977: 73; Luterbacher 1997: 15).4 Riparian positions (upstream/downstream) are also sig-ni cant as upstream actors bene t from a geographic advantage (Frey 1993: 5561; Schulz 1995: 91122). By extension, one can include riparian positions and the control exercised over military, economic resources and water, or the capacity to turn the tap, as sources of structural power in international river basins (Daoudy 2005).

    Time as a Source of Power

    Power is thus ingrained in the structure of interaction. Krause (1991: 321322) discusses further the process by which structural power sets the structure in which negotiations take place. A game change or change in the structure of interaction can result from the addition or subtraction of issues under negotiation (Lax and Sebenius 1986: 215). But power can also be de ned in relational terms and is not exclusively determined by possession or structure. Bargaining strategies aim at worsening the opponents alternatives and a ecting mutual perceptions (Bacha-rach and Lawler 1981; Lax and Sebenius 1986: 255). Th ese strategies are under-stood as the long-term actions taken by parties which alter their bargaining position and the structure of the interaction. Th e short-term steps taken in that perspective are considered as bargaining tactics. Promise and reciprocity, or threats of punishment, for example, may be tactical moves within an overall strategy of cooperation or con ict.

    Th e in uence that comes through this relation between actors is referred to as bargaining power, analogous to Lukes second dimension of power. Bargaining power is also inherent to the process itself as actors can appeal to strategies that aim at counter-balancing the distribution of resources between themselves. Th e

    2) Is power a property or a relationship? Is it potential or actual, a capacity or the exercise of a capacity? By whom or what, is it possessed or is it exercised? ( . . .) What kinds of outcomes does it produce: does it modify interests, options, preferences, policies or behavior? (1991: 83).3) For an in-depth analysis of di erent realist conceptions of power (according to classical, structural and neo-classical realists), see Schmidt 2005: 523549. 4) From an international political economy perspective, Susan Strange de nes structural power as non intentional power (considering for example the role of the USA, as a global hegemon, unwilling to pro-vide the basic functions of the global economic structure). See Guzzini 1993: 456.

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    capacity to develop alternatives, or change ones and others alternatives to the negotiated agreement, represent additional facets of bargaining power (Lax and Sebenius 1986: 255, 273274; Zartman and Rubin 2000: 204). Th e identi ca-tion of BATNAs (Best Alternatives to a Negotiated Agreement) provides a useful tool in understanding the actors power positions in the process (Fisher and Ury 1981).

    Building on the importance of perception as a source of power, Zartman and Rubin de ne power as a perceived relation that is determined by the parties interest in maintaining the relation (Zartman and Rubin 2000: 13, 288). Actors can constrain and in uence the options available to other actors, in terms of costs and bene ts, in a process during which each riparian values di erently the costs of non-agreement over time.

    Time also appears to be an important source of power, particularly bargaining power (Daoudy 2008a). Th e impact on an actors utilities through communica-tion and persuasion, and the importance of time as a process variable, was rst addressed by social-psychologists Sawyer and Guetzkow in their role model on personalities and attitudes in negotiations (1965). Game theorists have also shown that under conditions of complete information, actors that are more patient in the bargaining process gain more power and control over the course of the process (Rubinstein 1982: 97111). In situations of incomplete information, weaker par-ties can also improve their gains as information relating to their (im)patience is only disclosed by the way the game is being played (Rubinstein 1986: 11511172). To include time-related considerations, the negotiation process in the Euphrates and Tigris basins will be addressed in sequences of visible negotiating rounds over the years, and the evolution of strategies.

    Asymmetric Power: Resources and Interests

    One key element of transboundary water con ict that should also be added to the debate is the impact of asymmetry, power asymmetry being a fundamental aspect of hydro-politics (Daoudy 2004, 2005). An emerging perspective around hydro-hegemony proceeds to clarify hydro-politics from the perspective of the hege-monized (Zeitoun and Warner 2005; Daoudy 2008b). Power asymmetries also a ect the bargaining process. De ning asymmetry becomes equally complex (Rubin and Zartman 1995: 349). Lukes identi es three poles of asymmetry that are relevant to our understanding of the dynamics in the Euphrates and Tigris basins: A relationship of control, mutual dependence, and inequality (1991: 8690) in the riparians capacity to mobilize their economic and military resources.

    Th is asymmetric structure of con icts over water allows a clear distinction with other environmental or political con icts (Haftendorn 2000: 68). Under condi-tions of asymmetry, a con ict occurs among riparians only if in the interest of the most powerful riparian (Lowi 1993). Th ere is also a greater risk of con ict when downstream riparians are more powerful and su er from upstream development

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    (Frey and Na 1985; Na 1994). Power asymmetry is characterized by a discrep-ancy in the military and economic resources easily mobilized by riparian states, the asymmetry being reinforced by an upstream position in combination to avail-able resources. In addition to military and economic resources, asymmetry in power includes external alliances, the relative costs of no agreement and the value put on time (Daoudy 2005: 4546; Daoudy 2008a: 232).

    Negotiation analysts often point to the need to distinguish the actors underly-ing interests from the issues under negotiation, on which positions are held, while recognizing the complexity of their inter-linkages (Lax and Sebenius 1986; Sebe-nius 2002: 234; Rai a 1982).5 Power strategies during the negotiation process aim at worsening the opponents alternatives, a ecting mutual perceptions and reaching a satisfying agreement (Bacharach and Lawler 1981; Lax and Sebenius 1986: 255). Th ey can also shape interests, perceptions and therefore outcomes.

    Interests are considered the measure of negotiation, underlying the negotia-tion game which is characterized by a set of actors, the history of their relation-ship, the issues and underlying interests, the perceived alternatives to an agreement, and the governing rules or procedures (Lax and Sebenius 1986: 214). Changing the game implies altering rules, issues and parties, evoking and avoiding interests to create or claim value, i.e. cooperation or con ict over the object of negotiation (Ibid: 218237). A crucial link is thus established by Lukes between the concept of power and the ability to further ones own interests and a ect the interests of others (2005a; 2005b: 477481). Interests can be equated with preferences, overt or covert, necessary conditions of human welfare or elements of well-being which determine the signi cance of outcomes (Lukes 2005b: 481483). Outco-mes are therefore valued in terms of their e ects upon the interests of the agents involved (Ibid: 481). Th is raises interesting questions in relation to cooperation over water and the evaluation of its e ectiveness (Daoudy and Kistin 2008): Are the actors interests met? If so, what interests are achieved and which actors the most powerful ones?

    Issue-Linkage: An Important Source of Bargaining Power and Cooperation

    Issue-linkage is said to occur when an upstream-downstream issue is linked to another issue and cooperation is generated by mutual concession (Le Marquand 1977: 21) or, on the contrary, negotiations encounter obstacles (Hoppman in Kremenyuk 1991: 284). Central to the success of the latter is the capacity to link issues into bigger baskets from which a range of potential bene ts can be generated, with these then being distributed amongst the negotiating partners in a way that enhances direct forms of compensation (Tollison and Willett 1979: 425449).

    5) Refer to Table 2 for an empirical application to the case-study.

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    Waters somewhat unique feature of serving multiple uses may make it particu-larly e ective for bargaining power. In addition to water used for domestic con-sumption, primarily in cities, water is used to grow food and service industry. River ows may furthermore be used to generate electricity or tourism revenues or for the production of bio-fuels. Sado and Greys notion of bene ts beyond the river basin is directly applicable to the study: bargaining power over water issues may be increased in very indirect ways (Sado and Grey 2002; Phillips et al. 2006). Th e feature is given a twist when considering waters relationship with concepts of state security.

    Issue-linkage may be used tactically within a process of securitization of all issues in generating a power-security dilemma (Buzan 1991; Buzan et al. 1998: 132), by adding issues (Lax and Sebenius 1986: 215) or including direct and indirect actors on the agenda a strategy de ned as party arithmetic. Th e secu-ritization of water-related issues links water to national security concerns. Such tactics may either win the game for a hegemon, or may alternatively allow the downstream or weaker co-riparian to narrow the power gap, thus bringing the upstream or stronger riparian to at least a minimal agreement.

    Th is process can also be conceptualized as tactical issue-linkage (Haas 1980) or quid pro quo strategies where each actor sacri ces some issues in exchange for higher gains elsewhere (McGinnis 1986: 141). Issue-linkage can also be under-stood as arising from negotiated solutions, emerging from institutionalized set-tings in which su cient trust has been generated to e ectively desecuritize water resource management. Th e process of issue linkage is therefore an e ective source of bargaining power, particularly for the weaker party. Th e process means that the less powerful party is not really as weak as they are perceived or perceive them-selves to be. Th ey are able to induce cooperation on the part of the relatively more powerful party. In this, the analysis agrees with recent developments in the nego-tiation literature which have concluded that, by resorting to counter-strategies, weaker parties overcome situations of deadlock that can otherwise arise from total symmetry (Zartman and Rubin 2000: 272). 6

    Th e following gure (Figure 1) summarizes the process of issue-linkage in water negotiations. In the Euphrates/Tigris negotiations, the situation of struc-tural dilemma reveals how vulnerable riparians (e.g. downstream Syria) succeed in improving their power position by applying linking strategies that a ect (Turkey) the upstream riparians border and societal interests (see Table 2). Th e actors direct interests in the negotiation process are identi ed under water-related economic development objectives, such as food production, the multiple eco-nomic uses of water and environmental concerns. Th e securitization of water also

    6) See Gyawalis perspective on the India/Nepal water negotiations and Nepals successful negotiation strategies (based on time management) in the face of powerful India. In Zartman and Rubin 2000: 129154.

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    allows for the identi cation of indirect interests underlying the object of negotia-tion (water), such as concerns with internal stability, regional and border security, and the link made with unresolved territorial issues.

    Applying the Framework: Negotiation, Power, Interests, and Strategies in the Euphrates and Tigris

    Since 1980, Turkey has been building a mega-development project called the GAP (Great Anatolian Project or Gneydogu Anadolu Projesi), consisting of 22 dams and 19 HEPP (hydro-electric power plants) on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Th e ultimate objective is to irrigate about 1.8 million hectares in Southeast Ana-tolia (9.7% of Turkeys total surface) and produce 27 billion kilowatt hours annu-ally, thus the equivalent of 20% of the countrys total irrigable area and 22% of its total hydro-electric potential (Republic of Turkey 2006). Turkey aims at com-pensating the lack of oil resources while developing and stabilizing one of its most under-developed regions, Southeast Anatolia. Today, 44% of the GAP has been achieved, an evaluation which corresponds to 15% of all irrigation projects, 75% of the energy schemes and 58% of social projects, and 15 dams and 9 HEPP constructed in the two basins (Republic of Turkey 2006, 2008).7

    Th e GAP Project was scheduled for completion in 2010, but the deadline has been pushed to 2047 because of nancial constraints. So far, a total of 272,972 hectares (approximately 240,000 ha in the Euphrates basin and 32,000 ha in the Tigris basin) are under irrigation, and 111,500 ha are under preparation (Ibid). At the regional level, the impact on downstream countries will ultimately be quite signi cant. Although Turkey considers this project to be a domestic enterprise, inspired by the founder of the Turkish Republic, the consequences are

    7) An update on the GAP Project was o ered to the author on 17 September 2007 by Dr. Mustafa Altun-dal, Regional Director, State Hydraulic Works (DSI)s Regional Directorate, Sanliurfa in the Harran Province, during a eld trip carried out in the GAP region in the framework of the Euphrates-Tigris Initiative for Cooperation (ETIC).







    Water Stress

    Directs interests of economicdevelopment

    (hydraulic, environmental &food security interests)

    International Law


    Political and StrategicIndirect Interest

    (e.g. internal, regional &border security, territorial claims)

    Figure 1: Issue-linkage and the process of water negotiation

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    far-reaching and will continue to reach beyond its national borders. According to international experts, a full implementation of the GAP will ultimately with-draw a maximum of 70% of the Euphrates natural ow, about 4050% of its observed ow, and 50% of the Tigris River (Kolars and Mitchell 1991; Kliot 1994; Ozis 1993). A combination of upstream projects in Turkey and Syria places the lowest downstream riparian (Iraq) in a vulnerable position, Syrian projects on the Euphrates also having the potential, if completed, to ultimately withdraw 35% of the common waters (Daoudy 2005: 210211). Th e future consequences for mid-stream Syria are potentially highly problematic in light of the countrys dependence on external water sources (80%) and the centrality of the Euphrates Basin for the overall water supply (65% of resources). Considering the actual level of completion of the GAP, the current issue carries less a quantitative than a qualitative potential.

    Th e rst GAP Master Plan of 1989 did not include the drainage of return ows from irrigation, which induces risks of water ood and water-logging for down-stream riparians. It is estimated that 40% of waters reaching Syria from Turkey would ultimately carry 40% polluted waters, and 25% of the Tigris waters reach-ing Iraq from Turkey (Kliot 1994: 149). By the same token, return ows from Syria to Iraq would within the next thirty years pollute 50% of the Euphrates waters reaching Iraq (Ibid). Turkish experts evaluate, so far, the level of pollution at 700 ppm (Bilen quoted in Kolars 2000: 255). Th is level remains reasonable as long as the upstream riparian carefully attends to any additional and uncontrolled in ux of polluted waters (Kolars 2000).

    Turkish experts point to the second Regional Development Plan a revision to the Master Plan issued in 2002 which referred to return ows.8 Regional authorities further claim that drains have not been discharging in the Euphrates, while pointing to the good quality of return ows being used for irrigation in Tur-key when water is otherwise lacking.9 Second-track meetings which have served to reinitiate o cial encounters between Syria and Turkey in the early 2000s started over the pollution of the Balikh waters (Kolars 2000: 259). Th e Balikh and Khabour Rivers are however the main recipients of upstream pollution (Ibid). A GreenPeace report issued in the 1990s has also shown that over-pumping of the Ras-el-Ayn aquifer by Turkish farmers in the Diyarbakir region and Syrian farm-ers on the other side of the border has led to the pollution of groundwater feeding these sources (Al-Hayat 1996). Future impacts are also likely to arise from GAPs plans to irrigate 60,000 hectares in the Mardin-Ceylanpinar plains, from ground-water resources feeding the upper Khabur in Syria. Th erefore, the issue remains potentially problematic, unless retention and monitoring of return ows is care-fully carried out upstream to prevent excessive levels from reaching downstream.

    8) Communication by Dr. Aysegul Kibaroglu, 2008. 9) Comments provided by DSI o cials to the author during the ETIC eld trip to the GAP region, September 2007.

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    We now turn to analyzing dominant positions in the negotiation process over the common waters.10

    10) Th e minutes of proceedings of the negotiation rounds held between 1962 and 1993 which have been gathered from the Syrian part will serve as primary sources. Th ough gathered from one side only, these undisclosed internal documents constitute an important source of information since they were not formulated in order to sway public opinion, and since their validity was con rmed by the signature of Turkish negotiators at the time.

    Figure 2: A framework for negotiation in power asymmetry: the process of nego-tiation over the euphrates and tigris waters




    Bargaining Power Asymmetry

    POWER STRATEGIESChange the Game (add issues,actors, sources of power);

    Impact on interests

    * Territorial claims* Coalition-building* Interest-achievement(Iraq & Syria/Turkey & Israel,1980 1998; Syria & Kurds-PKK/Turkey, 19841998; Syria &Turkey/Iraq, 20012008); Iraq& Syria & Turkey, 2008)


    *19601993: Iraq, Syria, Turkey


    * 20012002: Syria, Turkey * 2008: Iraq, Syria, Turkey

    POSITIONSInternational Water Law



    1987 (S/T), 1989 (I/S),20012002 (S/T)

    Syria & Turkey, 1998(Adana Protocol,



    Structural Power Asymmetry

    History of Rivalry

    - Resource mobilization- Riparian position- Costs of no agreement

    TensionCooperation and Conflict



    Mixed negotiation process with peaks of cooperation andconflict which can be characterized as predominantlycooperative (integrative) or predominantly conflict-prone(distributive)

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    Th e Process: Rounds, Crises and Agreements (19621993; 20012002)

    Th e three core riparian states Iraq, Syria and Turkey decided early on to focus on the Euphrates, considering that immediate water-related projects would concern these waters rst. Since 1962, Turkey, Syria and Iraq have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss issues relating to respective water developments in the Euphrates basin. Th e process has been predominantly con ictual with peaks of crisis and periods of cooperation that have been punctuated by the signing of three bilateral agreements. A larger undertaking implies a confrontation of argu-ments and counter-arguments within the face-to-face negotiations and outside their strict framework, with the codi ed principles of international law for the protection and management of shared water resources and each countrys inter-pretation of these principles (refer to Daoudy 2008b). Table 1 o ers a wrap-up of the major phases and the content of the negotiation process (see also Annex 1).11

    A rst hydro-political crisis erupted in 1974 between Syria and Iraq. A combi-nation of planned upstream extraction in Syria and Turkey, severe drought and political tension brought the two countries to the verge of war. Iraq accused Syria of withdrawing a third of the rivers ow while Syria argued that the level of extraction corresponds to its annual consumption. In addition to the exceptional precipitation levels of March 1974, a combined Saudi and Soviet mediation in the region prevented the con ict from escalating further (Bari 1977; Kienle 1990). Syria and Iraq agreed orally on a minimum ow of 450 m3/second reach-ing the downstream riparian, while lling the Tabqa Dam (Farah 1995). Water here appeared to be the catalyst for a crisis which originated in political and ideo-logical rivalries, separating these two regional powers. A later political rapproche-ment between Iraq and Turkey has favored trade in oil (the Yumurtalik pipeline) and cooperation on the Kurdish le through a mutual territorial pursuit agree-ment and an interruption of water negotiations with Syria until 1983.

    It is worth mentioning that in 1987, Turkey committed in writing to let this minimum volume pass through to Syria in the framework of an economic coop-eration Protocol with Syria covering various sectors, including oil, gas, trade, electricity, telecommunications. Th e water clause speci ed that during the lling up period of the Atatrk Dam reservoir and until the nal allocation of the waters of the Euphrates among the three riparian countries, the Turkish side undertook to release a yearly average of more than 500 m3/second at the Turkish-Syrian bor-ders, and in cases where the monthly ow fell below the level of 500 m3/second, the Turkish side agreed to make up the di erence during the following month (Protocol on Economic Cooperation 1987). A bilateral agreement over water was reached for the rst time.

    11) For this and an extensive analysis of the process of negotiation, refer to Daoudy 2005: 161189. See Annex 1 for a brief summary.

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    Th en, prior to the 11th Tripartite Session held in April 1989, the two down-stream countries convened to distribute the waters of the Euphrates amongst themselves, Iraqs share across the Syrian-Iraqi border (. . .) amounting to 58% of the water volume crossing the Turkish-Syrian border and the rest, 42%, going to Syria (SAR 1989). A second bilateral agreement was reached, this time between Syria and Iraq. In early 1990, Turkey proceeded with a drastic cut of the Euphra-tes ow in order to ll the Atatrk Dam for a full month, and Syria and Turkey were on the brink of war. Following this crisis, and instead of pursuing negotia-tions, the three riparians exchanged o cial notes and mutual complaints through their embassies and their o cial position papers (Republic of Iraq 1996). As of 2001, new meetings were initiated between Turkey and Syria to discuss water-related socio-economic development activities. Th e two parties issued a Joint Communiqu on 23 August 2001, which was followed by an Implementation Document on 19 June 2002 (Republic of Turkey 2001, 2002) in which the two countries o cially committed to implementing common research and activities projects, as well as training programs. But the bilateral talks and the resulting third bilateral agreement failed to address volumetric allocations, the pending issue of polluted return ows from irrigation or the status of the third co-riparian.

    Con icting Positions Across Rivers: Th e Power Puzzle

    During the rst encounters with Syria, Turkey recognized the necessity to reach an equitable distribution of the Euphrates waters (2nd Bilateral Session 1963). Turkey then introduced, however, a conditional understanding of water distribu-tion, which was tied up with a basin-wide assessment of its long-term projects, needs, and water transfers, as well as an allocation of the uses of water and not the distribution of water between the countries concerned (Turkeys Verbal Note to Syria 1995).

    As a consequence, Turkey came to argue for an interpretation of the two Euphrates and Tigris basins as a unique basin and a centralized planning of all dam projects in the two basins across the three countries (1st Bilateral Session 1980; 10th Tripartite Session 1988; 13th Tripartite Session 1989) for the sake of rational and optimal utilization of the waters (12th Tripartite Session 1989) and a standardization of the data in the face of inequitable and non-economic irrigation of infertile lands in Syria (Republic of Turkey 1992, 1996).

    In 1990, late Turkish President zal stated that Turkey refused to have to share the Euphrates waters because the Euphrates is a Turkish river (Chalaby and Majzoub 1995). Turkish publications also stressed the transboundary nature of the two rivers (Bagis 1994) and the need to standardize all data relating to the Euphrates waters (Turan 1993: 28; Bilen 1994: 110112; Kibaroglu and Unver 2000; Kibaroglu, 2002). Moreover, Turkey had long defended the value of regula-tion and storage provided by upstream reservoirs, presumably to the bene t of all

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    Table 1: Face to face negotiations between Iraq (I), Syria (S) and Turkey (T)



    I I/T 13 Rounds19621974

    Exchange of data

    S/T 4 Rounds19621971

    Exchange of data

    II I/S/T 5 Rounds19721974

    Filling of Keban (T) and Tabqa

    (S) dams

    1st crisisS/I (1974)

    III I/T 2 RoundsMay, Nov/Dec


    Exchange of data


    I/S/T 14 Rounds19831992

    26/28 Sept. 198311/14 June 19845/8 Nov. 19845/9 June 1985

    25/30 Jan. 198623/30 June 198610/16 Jan. 19875/10 Jan. 1988

    26 Sep/2 Oct. 198813/20 March 198918/24 April 1989

    29 Nov/1 Dec 19897/12 March 1990

    28 Sep./2 Oct 1992

    *Filling of Karakaya &

    Atatrk dams (T)

    *Exchange of data

    *One basin (T) vs. two basins


    of data (T)*Optimal

    utilization (T) vs. equitable

    utilization (S,I)

    S/T1987: min.500 m3/sec.


    58% (I) et 48% (S)

    of Euphrateswaters


    Min. allocation of 500 m3/s. is

    rea rmed(Security Protocol)

    2nd crisisS/T


    IV S/T 7 Rounds1721 May 1993

    *Need to reach nal agreement

    with Iraq *Decision to

    hold high-level trilateral meet-ing in Ankara*1 (T) vs. 2 basins (S)

    Source: authors compilation.

  • M. Daoudy / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391 375

    riparians in periods of severe drought such as in 19581962 and 19701975 (Bilen 1994).

    Backing their argument on the international customary principles of equitable and reasonable utilization,12 the obligation not to cause harm and the obligation for prior noti cation, Syria and Iraq have consistently and jointly contested such arguments. Th e 1987 agreement was also quoted as proof of the full recognition by Turkey of the international nature of the watercourse (Syrias Verbal Note to Turkey 1995). Syria has considered Turkeys claims as a way of postponing the issue of water distribution until the completion of the GAP (Kasm 1996).

    Considering these diverging perspectives on the common waters, the question begging to be asked is why would Turkey who bene ts from an upstream posi-tion combined with stronger military and economic endowments agree to guar-antee the 1987 Euphrates minimal ow to Syria? How did the downstream riparian achieve this bilateral agreement when the most powerful actor has long resisted any water allocation in the name of national sovereignty? In uencing and background variables are identi ed when analyzing the nature and dynamics of Syria and Turkeys power relations. Th e power puzzle will be analyzed in the next sections.

    Asymmetric Power & Counter-Strategies by Downstream Riparians in the Euphrates and Tigris

    Asymmetry between the competing riparians may be dwindling, particularly when measured in terms of economic wealth and military capabilities. Structural power asymmetry between Turkey and its downstream riparians, Iraq and Syria, can be measured by military and strategic power or relative resource endowment and mobilization. Resources are de ned in terms of population, sources of energy, food production, means of communication, mineral wealth and industrial pro-duction, the importance of services and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita (Th obie 1996: 5). Th e signi cance of demography as a parameter of mili-tary capabilities has decreased in the face of new military strategies but the upstream riparians economic power has strengthened with its population of 67.8 million (Republic of Turkey 2008).

    In addition to being the only net food importer in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey has also gradually transformed into an industrial power since converting to a market economy (Sahinz 1996: 195). NATO membership since 1951, and the mobilization of external alliances, has geared the countrys foreign policy to the West, while cutting it from its immediate environment (Owen 1992: 27; Vaner 1993: 66). Th is strategic choice was maintained until the invasion of Cyprus in 1974 when Turkey realized her isolation in the international community

    12) Iraq has, in fact, put forth its historic rights a principle which was not recognized by the 1997 United Nations Convention on International Watercourses (Republic of Iraq 1989).

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    and initiated a quest for alliances in the Arab world (Vaner 1993: 69). Despite the acceptance in 2000 of Turkeys candidacy to the European Union (which was initiated in 1987), there were strong feelings within the country that resistances on the part of the Union members were based on religious factors (Parmentier 1995: 131). Neighboring countries still remained wary of the upstream actors potential use of its military and economic capabilities in times of regional con- icts such as the Gulf Wars.

    Th e gradual opening of Turkeys northern, northwestern and eastern borders has also revealed the countrys strategic ambitions as a regional breadbasket in economic (oil, gas) and cultural collaboration with the states in Central Asia and the Balkans that emerged from the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s (Marcou 1996: 383, 397; Kanal 1996: 7071). On 1 March 2003, the Turkish Parliaments historic decision to reject any military attacks on Northern Iraq by Anglo-American troops from Turkish territory represented a turning point in its strategic relationship with the United States. Th e period of rapproche-ment with neighboring Syria and Iraq coincided with the resumption of bilateral talks over the Euphrates waters.

    By building the GAP Project on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, Turkey has exploited its relatively greater structural power as the upstream country in a posi-tion to turn the tap. Th is project o ers Turkey new options, while strongly a ecting Iraq and Syrias costs and bene ts. For example, Turkey did not consis-tently adhere to the 500 m3/second delivery to Syria outlined in the 1987 agree-ment (Zawahri 2006: 10471048).

    Th e Joint Technical Committee (JTC)s weak monitoring capacity and lack of con ict resolution has therefore not enabled downstream parties to induce com-pliance on the part of the powerful party (Ibid). Non-compliance persisted between 1989 and 1992 and during the droughts spanning 19992001, with uctuations ranging from 795 m3/second reaching the common border in 1999 (Daoudy 2004, 2005) to 450 m3/second in 20002001, when o cial protests were voiced by the Iraqi and Syrian Irrigation Ministers (SAR 2001; Tishrin 2001). Flow cuts were signi cant at three instances (1990, 1994 and 1995), at the time of the Atatrk and Birecik Dams and the Sanliurfa canals (Kolars 2000: 253). In Janu-ary 1990, Turkey started lling the Atatrk Dam reservoir, unilaterally cutting the ow of the Euphrates and leaving a trickle of water to downstream countries (Morris 1997).13 Since 1995, Turkey has ful lled its commitment to an average ow of 900 m3/second crossing the border with Syria (Mualla and Salman 2002; Zawahri 2006).

    13) It is worth noting that the Atatrk Dam reservoir today is lled to 4045 billion cubic meters (the maximum capacity being 48 bcm). Presentation to author by Deputy Regional Director, DSI Regional Directorate, Sanliurfa, Harran, 16 September 2007.

  • M. Daoudy / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391 377

    As the GAP project was still under construction, Syria had room to enhance its bargaining power by allying with Iraq and including collateral issues in the water interaction with Turkey, such as the Kurdish issue. On the other hand, it hardly need be said that the GAP has also endowed Turkey with a considerable measure of its own bargaining power as it lends real weight to threats made to downstream countries of ow cuts, thereby gaining more concessions from them.

    All this concludes the need to apply all the concepts relating to power with care as identical variables appeal to structural as well as bargaining power. Issue linkage was e ectively used in the Euphrates basin as a dominant strategy. Th e issue-linkage made between water sharing and the upstream countrys security concerns over Kurdish insurgency was the main driver towards the conclusion of a minimal agreement on water allocation in 1987 (the water clause being inserted within a Security Protocol; see Table 2). Th ree bilateral agreements have been reached (see Table 1) between Syria and Turkey (1987, 2001) and Iraq and Syria (1989). However, since agreements are bilateral (ignoring the other co-riparian) and are therefore at least somewhat unstable, down eld cooperation tends to be limited.

    Based on the narrative of the negotiations process (see Annex 1), and despite several bilateral crises (1974, 1990, 1993, 1996), water has not led to militarized con ict. Th is suggests that the limits to violent con ict in this case at least are quite distant indeed. Once acknowledged, this fact may serve to weaken Turkeys bargaining power as its threats will hold less deterrent capacity. Th e analysis has focused on the interaction between parties in light of some of the concrete out-comes attained on the water issue, either in the form of bilateral water agreements (Syria/Turkey, Iraq/Syria) or indirect alliances (Syria/PKK, Turkey/Israel).

    Th e following table summarizes the linkage strategies that were used by the downstream riparian during the process of negotiation and their respective weight on the negotiation outcomes, from strongest (I) to weakest (IV).

    Linkage Strategies: Changing the Negotiation Game, Building Coalitions and Impacting Interests

    An overview of the rst two strategies sheds additional light on some of the complex inter-linkages and strategies to impact others BATNAs and mutual interests.14 On the rst hand, nancial di culties have resulted from the enor-mous pressure the GAP has put on Turkeys national budget. Th ese include diminishing international investments, resulting from worldwide campaigns led by non-governmental coalitions in the elds of the environment and human rights. Such examples are the Ilisu Dam Campaign or the Export Credit Cam-paign. In e ect, the socio-economic, environmental and archaeological impacts

    14) For in-depth analysis of downstream strategies and counter-upstream strategies, see Daoudy, 2005: 190203.

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    Table 2: Syrias linkage strategies in negotiating the Euphrates/Tigris Waters with Turkey



    Support to PKK


    I Link any security agreement to a

    minimal allocation by Turkey of the

    Euphrates waters

    Security Protocol of 1987 (special clause

    500 m3/second)

    Treaty of Adana on Cooperation over Security (1998)

    end of Kurdish card

    Water Security

    Impact on Turkeys national, societal

    and border security

    Block international investments in

    GAP (appeal made to European

    exportcredit agencies,World Bank)


    II Impede the completion of the GAP by limiting

    international investments

    Make international investments

    conditional on other riparians


    Support International

    Campaign against the Ilisu Dam on

    the Tigris

    External allies (NGOs, World Commission on


    Withdrawal of British and Swiss Investors

    Resume discussions on hydraulic issues


    Joint Communiqu & Implementation

    Document, S/T (23 August 2001

    19 June 2002)

    InternationalExposure asCo-Riparian

    Impact on Turkeys economic


    Link made with peace process in the Jordan Basin


    III Link the agreement on the

    Jordan waters with a pressure put on Turkey

    over the Euphrates waters

    Link made by the Americans during

    the Syria/Israel negotiations

    Wider regional negotiation and

    security concerns

    Historical claims on the Sandjak of

    Alexandrette(re-named Hatay

    Province by Turkey)

    (19392002, see Annex 1 for

    further details)

    IV Link negotiations on the Orontes waters with a

    resolution ofthe Euphrates dispute

    Exclude Turkey from the Syria/Lebanon agreement on the Orontes waters


    Territorial and historical claims

    Source: compilation by author.

  • M. Daoudy / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391 379

    of the GAP on the Tigris River have been criticized worldwide, because of the ooding of villages, the displacement of population, and the destruction of cultural sites, such as the city of Hasankeyf (Biegala 2001). Turkish authorities estimate today that about 20,100 villagers would be displaced by the construc-tion of the Ilisu Dam, due for completion in 2011 (Republic of Turkey DSI 2006). At the interruption of talks in 1993, and moreover at the end of the Kurdish card in 1998, Syria started appealing to international donors and nancial institutions to stop nancing the GAP. Letters were sent to the World Bank, the Swiss and British governments and contacts initiated with interna-tional non-governmental campaigns (SAR 1999). Under the pressure of domestic opinions,15 a few European countries (United Kingdom, Switzerland) and com-panies (Swiss UBS, British Balfour Beatty and Italian Impregilio) withdrew their support for the project between 2001 and 2002 (Ahmad 2001; International Riv-ers Network 2001, 2002).

    On the other hand, Turkeys answer to the regional outreach of the Kurdish issue besides military suppression to combat terrorism was to launch unarmed measures and develop infrastructures aimed at the heart of Kurdish activism, principally in Southeast Anatolia. With the objective to promote societal security (Buzan et al. 1998: 169) through socio-economic development, dams in the nine provinces of the GAP region have paradoxically favored local and international reactions by ooding 382 villages, 88 sub-villages and displacing an estimated population of 197,732 villagers,16 the majority being Kurdish (Biegala 2001). Faced with the steady progress of the GAP project and the deadlock in negotia-tions, the downstream riparian started to employ linkage strategies. As of 1984, Syrias support to Kurdish military operations within Turkey, through the Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan (PKK) and its leader Abdullah calan, represented an impor-tant bargaining chip which enhanced its position in the negotiation process and impacted Turkeys security alternatives.

    Th is use of an issue-linkage tactic helped in breaking the impasse, as in exchange for collaboration with Syria on security issues, Turkey became more willing to compromise on some minimal allocation of the common waters when signing the bilateral Protocol of 1987. In addition to economic and technical agreements, the agreement stipulated that no party would support violent groups in the oth-ers territory (Hale 2000: 174; SAR 1987). In the water-related clause, Turkey committed to a minimal allocation of 500 m3 per second of the Euphrates waters to downstream Syria.

    15) An interesting empirical application is witnessed here of Robert Putnams two-level game on domestic and international negotiations (Putnam 1988). 16) According to DSI and GAP sources (1999) cited in a Report by the United Kingdoms o cial Export Credit Agency, 2000: 14. Th is estimate seems to match recent o cial DSI sources, outlining a total of 54,762 a ected villagers in 5 (Batman, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Siirt and Sirnak) out of 9 provinces (+Adiya-man, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa) concerned by the GAP project (Republic of Turkey DSI 2006: 5).

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    Th e link made between the Kurdish issue and the water le was kept as a bone of contention between the two countries, triggering several peaks of con ict in the 1990s. Typically, the crises of 1990, 1993 and 1996 were activated by one of two factors either a signi cant reduction of water from the Turkish side, or a refusal to reconvene the negotiations and then followed by an intensi cation of Syrias support of the Kurds. At the time of the lling of the Atatrk reservoir in January 1990, the internal destabilization became much too burdensome, and the Turkish Minister of Foreign A airs agreed to again institute the 500 m3/second minimum quota upon signing the 1992 Security Protocol with Syria in which both countries commit to ght terrorism (SAR 1992). Yet, in 1993, the ows were again signi cantly reduced, and this trend continued and culminated with the launch of the Birecik Dam on the Euphrates, as well as the opening of the Sanliurfa canals in 19941995. In 1996, Turkey openly accused Syria of support-ing the PKK, and refused to initiate any water negotiations (Bell 1998).

    In return, the military alliance between Israel and Turkey (1996) in applica-tion of a party arithmetic strategy was a further attempt to undermine Syrias bargaining power and alternatives in the Jordan basin. As a matter of fact, links between Turkey and Israel were strengthened since 1993 with the signature of many agreements providing for military training, defense, industrial cooperation and trade (Memorandum of 1993; Military Agreement of 1996). Israel started investing in GAP and o cial encounters concretized previous suggestions on possible imports of plastic barges lled with water to Israel. After years of discus-sion, the Manavgat Project for the sale of 50 million cubic meters (mcm) per year from Turkey to Israel by tankers was nally signed in March 2004 (Grer and lger 2004).17

    However, despite Turkeys threats of war in October 1998, the expulsion of Kurdish rebel leader calan from Syria and his later capture in February 1999 by Turkish authorities has shifted pressure away from Syria. Th e Security Treaty signed in Adana (1998) referred to terrorism and marked an end to Syrias sup-port to PKK or to any activities on its territory which would have as an objective to threaten Turkeys security and stability (Republic of Turkey 1998).

    Recent Syrian-Turkish Dtente

    In the aftermath of the Iraq War (2003), Syria and Turkey have also witnessed a foreign policy alignment and collusion on their regional strategic interests. Th e occupation of Iraq, the subsequent redistribution of cards for the control of stra-tegic resources and areas of in uence, and the consecutive shift in power rela-tions, constituted additional turning points. Turkey and Syria have been greatly

    17) Th e deal has subsequently been rescinded due to high costs, and apparently replaced with a dual oil and water undersea pipeline still under study.

  • M. Daoudy / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391 381

    concerned by the concretization of Kurdish claims in Iraq and the possible impact on their own population.

    Since then, Turkey has shifted its discourse over water from focusing on sover-eignty to the advocacy of bene t-sharing (Unver 2005). Th e process was switched from a distributive (con ictual) to an integrative (cooperative) negotiation. For wider security purposes, Syria has, in turn, agreed to a minimal level of coopera-tion as it was eager to contain the birth of irredentism in her northeastern prov-inces and keen on developing security arrangements with the Iraqi central government of Nuri al-Maliki. In 2008, Turkey took a step further by launching military incursions into the Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Iraq, with the intent of ending PKK attacks. In doing so, Turkey revived past military incur-sions carried out in line with hot pursuit agreements reached in the 1980s with Saddam Husayn. Favored by the end of the contentious Kurdish card, the rapprochement with Syria was concretized by the signing of the 2001 Joint Com-muniqu. Th e water le was, once more, addressed in relation to security issues.

    Th is third bilateral agreement between Syria and Turkey opened a new chapter while failing to address volumetric and qualitative allocations and the status of the third co-riparian. Th e very recent unveiling at the end of May 2008 by the Turkish government of a $12 billion (bn) investment package for the South-eastern Anatolian provinces reveal renewed priorities placed on the expansion of water and socio-economic infrastructures in the region that is the heart of Kurdish activism (Boland 2008).

    Since 2005, Track II channels have gathered scholars and former o cials from the three co-riparian countries through the Euphrates and Tigris Initiative for Cooperation (ETIC; see Kibaroglu 2008). Th e objective is to pave the way for the resumption of o cial discussions over shared water resources. After having sought to impact Syrias alternatives in the Jordan basin, Turkeys concern with regional stability, as a NATO member and neighbor to Syria and Iraq, resulted also in active mediation in bringing Syria and Israel into a process of indirect negotia-tions over the Golan Heights (Daoudy 2008a).

    Multi-purpose cooperation with Baghdad over water and oil has been sporadi-cally pursued by the two upstream riparians, and recent declarations called for joint projects. Th e three co-riparians o cially declared in March 2008 their will to cooperate over shared waters by establishing a joint water institute with experts from each country. At the end of May 2008, the Iraqi Water Resources Minister visited Syria and Turkey to meet about the resumption of trilateral talks and agree on ow increases from upstream sources into the two rivers. Pending issues at the root of con ict over water have however not been fully addressed yet. Besides drainage waters reaching Syria and Iraq, one of the questions that needs to be tackled is the construction of the Ilisu Dam and its consequences on the Tigris. According to Iraqi o cials, the dam which is scheduled for completion in 2011 would decrease the waters of the Tigris by 47% per year and deprive the

  • 382 M. Daoudy / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391

    city of Mosul of 50% of its waters in summer periods (Al Sabah 2008). Th e years ahead will show whether an evolution in the regional and international context will bring about a resolution rather than a transformation of the con ict over shared waters in the Euphrates and Tigris (Daoudy 2008c).

    Conclusions: Water, Asymmetric Power and Negotiation

    Th e di culties encountered with negotiating and sharing common resources are well known. Th is study concludes that power asymmetries have paradoxically favored upstream/downstream interactions towards bilateral if not basin-wide arrangements. Weaker riparians can resist a more powerful actor by employing strategies to improve short-term gains, rather than engage in cooperation toward long-term solutions, when a comprehensive settlement is not achieved. Asym-metry in structural power may to a certain degree induce greater reliance on tac-tics designed to increase the so-called weaker actors bargaining power.

    Counterstrategies have contributed to the signing of three separate bilateral agreements between Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Th e securitization of water-related issues is of a dual nature, with threat perception as a key variable because of its capacity to link issues of national security with perceptions of growing water scarcity. Regional instability is generally increased, but short-term cooperation over water may in fact be promoted as bilateral agreements have been reached. One conclusion that can be generalized from the analysis is that power asymme-tries do not necessarily determine the results of negotiations. But negotiation outcomes remain bilateral and temporary, and the overall allocation lies in the hand of the upstream and most powerful riparian.

    As shown, the situation in the Euphrates and Tigris adds a layer of complexity because actors are not merely concerned with problems of enforcing optimal dis-tribution of water, but are ultimately concerned to achieve an enforceable security arrangement. Th e process of negotiation over water has clearly been mixed, evolv-ing between cooperation and con ict, but with a predominantly con ictual ori-entation until the early 2000s.

    To have useful e ect, the process of de-securitization needs to address the asym-metry inherent in most water con icts, but also understand the way in which issue-linkage occurs through the mechanism of threat perception. Th e de-securi-tization of water-related issues should therefore focus on three core variables of the negotiation process: power, interests and rights. In this case-study, some actors (Iraq, Syria) have an intrinsic interest in delineating a lasting settlement to the hydraulic issue sometimes involving both the search for water and food security while others will seek to satisfy wider strategic interests tied to regional security (Turkey).

    Interests can also vary over time when circumstances and security concerns shift. Until the early 2000s, Syrias interests coincided with Iraqs quest for water

  • M. Daoudy / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 361391 383

    security in the face of Turkeys upstream projects. After 2003, Syrias national security concerns and threat perceptions led to coalition-building with the pow-erful Turkish neighbor. Joint projects and the sharing of expertise have been advo-cated, while no full resolution of the water con ict was achieved in terms of quantity or quality of the waters reaching downstream borders. Th e nature of the Middle Easts post-war strategic order is still unclear, even if Syria and Turkey have come closer to reaching an understanding on water and security issues within a new regional balance of power.

    Th is emphasizes also the importance of time as a source of power. Time was on Turkeys side as the upstream riparian was in no hurry to conclude a basin-wide agreement before the completion of GAP making it less impatient to allocate the common waters in mutual agreements despite incurred costs in terms of internal security. Th e lack of nancial capital has however slowly impacted the countrys bargaining position as it has strived to attract international investments.

    Basin hegemons or dominant actors usually succeed in accessing more than an equitable share of the available water resources. Th e extension from water insecu-rity to societal, borders and regional insecurity can be avoided when voluntary restraints are exerted on the part of all riparians and dynamics of cooperation are spontaneously established. Th e selection of an appropriate starting point for negotiations on either volumetric allocations or the quanti cation of bene ts is crucial, and greatly a ects the chances of success of any negotiations between co-riparians intent on optimizing their economic development. Th ere are e ec-tive ways to secure ones access to water supplies through agreements that recog-nize sovereignty while enhancing veri cation and joint surveillance mechanisms of water quantity and quality, which can be easily monitored. Th e 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Water-courses has not as yet been rati ed by a su cient number of countries to enter into force as conventional international law. But a process towards the recogni-tion of an e ective crystallization of these customary rules with relation to state behavior has been launched, allowing riparians to appeal to this body of rules as international water law.

    Th is raises crucial questions in relation to the quality of cooperation and the framing and implementation of agreements in international river basins. A rela-tionship exists between e orts to promote a viable water regime on this basis, with an equitable distribution of volumetric allocations between all riparians, and the stability of agreements. In e ect, principles of basin-wide and equitable use should be contingent upon mutual water rights and obligations, and only then can they pave the way for a new vision of water-sharing based on e ective coop-eration towards coexistence and regional partnership, outside the framework of con ict and power relations.

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    Annex 1: Th e Process of Water Negotiation in the Euphrates and Tigris (19621993)

    Bilateral rounds were rst launched between Syria and Turkey (19621971) then Syria and Iraq (19621974). Four phases have followed the initial discussions: a tripartite (19721974; 19831992) and bilateral sets of meetings (Syria/Turkey in 1993; Syria/Turkey, Turkey/Iraq and Syria/Iraq in 20012002).

    Both Syria and Turkey highlighted the need, from 1962 to 1971, to exchange water and climate-related data in order to favor cooperation and reach an equitable distribution of the Euphrates waters (2nd Bilateral Session 1964). As of 1962, Turkey suggested to study all the shared resources which Syria refutes on the ground of known political reasons such as the Orontes (Asi ) and the Sandjak of Iskandaroun (1st Bilateral Session 1962).18 Th is proposal by Turkey was regularly reiterated over the years (3rd Bilateral Session 1969; Republic of Turkey 1996; Turkeys Verbal Note to Syria 1995) and Syria continued to emphasize the fact that the Orontes River was not part of the three countries common waters (3rd Tripartite Session 1983). Turkey kept also emphasizing its will to pursue negotiations with both Syria and Iraq on the question of common projects to be built on the Turkish side of the Euphrates. Signed in 1969, a technical Protocol stated the will to search for a distribution of water rights (4th Bilateral Session 1971). Later bilateral sessions coordinated the lling of the Keban (30 km3) and Tabqa (11.6 km3) reservoirs to be built respectively in Turkey and Syria (4th Bilateral Session 1971). Syria emphasized its intention to irrigate 640,000 hectares with the Euphrates waters. Th e ve tripartite sessions held around the lling of the upstream dams revealed an escalation of tension. Syria considered that downstream countries were faced with a fait accompli by Turkey and looked into unifying positions with Iraq (First Tripartite Session 1972). Turkeys reply was to envisage a distribution of the waters only after analyzing all proj-ects, each countrys needs and possible water transfers from other rivers (2nd Tripartite Session 1972). Th e discussions were quickly deadlocked as Turkey and Syria started lling their reser-voirs at the same time, thus severely impacting Iraqs water volume. Th e ensuing crisis was tackled in the next phases. In April 1974, a fth trilateral session gathered all actors to the dis-pute (5th Tripartite session 1974). During the session, Turkey announced a plan to ll the Keban reservoir from early July 1974 until 1975. Th e upstream riparian committed to let an average ow of 100170 m3/second pass through the common border to Syria. In order to satisfy its needs, Syria, in turn, claimed an average ow of 370 m3/second between the months of April-July and 260 m3/second during the summer. Th e discussions did not yield any result and the average ow varied between 100200 m3/second. During the 10th bilateral session, an agreement was reached between Syria and Iraq. Syria committed to let Iraq have a minimum of 90 m3/second during the month of June and 110 m3/second during the rst days of July (19 May5 June 1974). No trilateral agreement was reached and in the rst days of July 1974, the two upstream reservoirs started to ll. Th e following bilateral meetings between Syria and Iraq revealed a strong dissent about the quantity of water that was released to Iraq. Syria

    18) Th is part of the Syrian territory, named the Sandjak of Alexandretta, was ceded in 1939 by France to Turkey during her mandate over Syria, in exchange for Turkeys alliance in the upcoming World War. Turkey, whose claim was based on the presence of a Turkish minority, gave it the name of Hatay Province. Since 1939, Syria has continuously claimed the territory on the basis of a contested arrangement achieved without her consent by the foreign colonial ruler. For more on the issue of the Sandjak and its impact on Syria and Turkeys bilateral relations: Aita 1949; Picard 1983; Sanjian 1956; Th obie 1979.

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    suggested a minimum amount of 250 m3/second, with a possibility to raise it to 450 m3/second during the month of January. No compromise was reached and the two riparians reverted to non-o cial provisional agreements to regulate the consequent lling of the Tabqa Dam.

    Following the 1974 crisis between Syria and Iraq, cooperation characterized the start of the third phase of the process (19821992), which followed downstream concerns expressed over the launch of the GAP project. Starting on a bilateral Turkish/Iraqi basis (1982), the sixteen bilateral and trilateral sessions later included Syria and were held alternatively in each capital twice a year. Parties convened about carrying out eld missions, exchanging data and establish-ing common measures of the rivers. Positions quickly clashed over water evaluations (10th Tri-partite Session 1988) as well as legal interpretations of the status of the rivers. Tensions started rising again between Syria and Turkey when the latter launched the Karakaya Dam (1984). In 1986, Turkeys commitment to let 500 m3/second pass through the common border was rst rejected by Syria who stressed the need to specify volumes in the framework of a tripartite agreement (7th Tripartite Session 1986). A deal was nally struck within the framework of the 1987 Protocol.

    During the 10th Tripartite Session, Turkey announced the completion of the Karakaya Dam and gave an evaluation of expected volumes for the Atatrk Dam. Syria and Iraq proceeded likewise with regards to Al-Baath and Al-Qadisiya Dams in their respective territories (10th Tri-partite Session 1988). During the same session, downstream countries expressed a concern about the possible impact of the Atatrk Dam, a concern to which Turkey responded that no damages would be su ered by downstream countries along the same guarantees o ered during the lling of the Karakaya Dam (10th Tipartite Session 1988: 8). Th is position was reversed as of 1989. During the 14th Session, Turkey announced its intention to ll the Atatrk Dam between 13 January and 12 February 1990, and completely cut o the ow of the Euphrates River during this period (14th Tripartite Session 1989). Syria and Iraq strongly rejected this solution, suggesting some technical alternatives to alleviate the damages encountered by the three countries. Syria demanded that Turkey respect the 1987 Protocol.

    Following the 1990 crisis with Turkey, Syria reiterated the importance of the Euphrates for its projects and put forth some claims to the Tigris waters (15th Tripartite Session 1990). Turkey committed to try as much as possible to respect the commitment to let 500 m3/second pass through the common border with Syria. While Iraq claimed a minimum water ow of 750 m3/second in order to satisfy all downstream needs, Syria insisted on the provisional dimen-sion of the 1987 agreement before reaching a complete allocation of the waters (15th Tripartite Session 1990). Turkey refuted both propositions. Syria and Iraq later reached an agreement on the distribution of the common waters. A 16th Tripartite Session was held in SeptemberOctober 1992, followed by a brief bilateral Syria/Turkey Session in May 1993, in which the two riparians committed to reaching a nal tripartite agreement on the distribution of shared waters before the years end. Th is meeting never took place.

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