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Trouble in Mesopotamia: Can America Deter a Water War Between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey?

July 2004

Citation: 34 ELR 10632

Issue: 7

Author: Itzchak E. Kornfeld

I. Introduction

The tensions over the waters of the [Tigris-Euphrates] basin have reached internationally acknowledged levels, and a lack of cooperation among the riparians confronts the world with a new potential conflict area. This situation threatens the delicate political stability in the Middle East, and further polarization in [sic] region continues . . . . The basin is one of the most unstable political areas in the region and water plays and [sic] important role. This is a classic case of [sic] water quantity issue, and use of the available water in the basin.

The United States is poised to relinquish a degree of governance to the Iraqis on June 30, 2004, some 16 months of being enmeshed in a difficult situation. Since the end of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in May 2003, the United States has found itself in a war of attrition, losing at least one soldier every day, and has faced international disapproval for the prisoner abuse fiasco at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad. One historian framed the problem as follows: "The country is a political basket case, a condition guaranteed by its occupier's rush to war and hasty map redrawing. That things are bad in Iraq is a given; just how bad they'll yet become is the question."

Itzchak E. Kornfeld, Esq. (J.D., Tulane Law School), B.S. and M.A. Brooklyn College, C.U.N.Y. (geochemistry) and Tel Aviv University, is general counsel and vice president at Oasis Environmental Solutions, L.L.C., Glenside, Pennsylvania. He concentrates on environmental and water issues in arid regions of the world as well as on foreign policy matters related to the environment. Mr. Kornfeld has written numerous law review articles on environmental and international law subjects. He is also Adjunct Associate Professor at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses in environmental crimes, environmental terrorism, and international law.

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