Global Insider: Cooperation on Middle East Water Remains Stagnant

Global Insider: Cooperation on Middle East Water Remains Stagnant

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently convened a meeting of Arab leaders in Baghdad to discuss cooperation on water issues. In an email interview, Annika Kramer, a senior project manager at the German think tank Adelphi, discussed the state of cooperation on water in the Middle East.

WPR: What is the current state of water management cooperation in the Middle East?

Annika Kramer: Cooperation in water resources management only takes place to a very limited extent in the Middle East. None of the main transboundary river basins in the region -- the Euphrates-Tigris, the Jordan and the Nile basin -- is governed by an agreement that includes all riparian countries, let alone by cooperation that follows the principles of international water law, especially the principle of equitable utilization. Instead, cooperation is often characterized by asymmetric power relationships and indeed very unequal allocation of water resources between riparians. In the Lower Jordan basin, for instance, Israel uses the bulk of the water, while Palestinians and Jordanians have to struggle with what is left; and in the Nile basin, the two downstream states, Egypt and Sudan, claim the right to use almost all of the Nile flows.

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