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Medzini, Arnon (1994) The Euphrates River: An Analysis of a Shared River System in the Middle East. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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In a world where the amount of resources is constant and unchanging but where their use and exploitation is growing because of the rapid population growth, a rise in standards of living and the development of industrialization, the resource of water has become a critical issue in the foreign relations between different states. As a result of this many research scholars claim that, today, we are facing the beginning of the "Geopolitical era of water". The danger of conflict of water is especially severe in the Middle East which is characterized by the low level of precipitation and high temperatures. The Middle Eastern countries have been involved in a constant state of political tension and the gap between the growing number of inhabitants and the fixed supply of water and land has been a factor in contributing to this tension. These circumstances have led some researchers to predict that the next war in the region will break out because of a conflict over the allocation of water resources in the region. The Euphrates is the third biggest river in the Middle East. It rises in East Turkey, and crosses 2,330 km of territory through Syria and Iraq until it links up with the Shatt-Al-Arab river. The amount of average annual water flow over many years is about 32 billion m.;3but the seasonal and annual variations are very great because of the regions climate. From the nineteen-sixties onward the three riparians began to plan and carry out extensive development programmes for the Euphrates river water by constructing dams whose main purpose was to control the flow of its water, for the production of hydroelectric power and for agricultural purposes. These programmes caused tension in the foreign relations between the countries. The study provides a review of the hydrology of the river and of the river's relevance to the economies of its three riparians. This resource profile is the basis of the analysis of the strategic role of the river in the relations between Turkey, Syria and Iraq. This study also examines the influence of the Euphrates water allocation on the network of relations between the riparians countries. An examination of the different variables involved in this subject has been carried out with the help of three models: 1. Cognitive mapping - which allows all the states along the river basin to evaluate the interests of a particular country over three periods of time (past, present, future). 2. Quantitative indicators of vulnerability due to water shortages - which measure the level of vulnerability of states to a possible shortage of water. 3. Matrix model - which examines the possibility of military conflict between the states on the basis of five factors - also over three periods. Analyses based on these models together with the data on the river and on the economies of the riparians show that there will not be a future shortage of Euphrates water, military conflicts between the countries along the river are unlikely to develop. It appears that social, economic and political factors are the central issues in the tense relations between the riparians and not necessarily, as many research scholars claim, issues of water allocation.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 16:57

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