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Turkey set to re-examine the GAP

Turkey has said it intends to review its 1989 master plan for a huge network of southeastern dams and power plants, which has caused friction with its downstream neighbours, Iraq and Syria. The controversial plan has also been the subject of a number of protests by environmental groups. The Southeastern Anatolian Project (GAP) is a US$32B project consisting of 22 dams and 19 power plants intended to provide irrigation water and power for Turkey’s southeast.

Turkey, calling for the review to be completed next year by consultants, said that widespread migration away from the southeastern countryside to cities in the east and west has promp- ted the proposed review.

The World Bank has refused to fund the GAP for environmental reasons and because of fears it would increase the danger of cross-border conflict with Turkey’s neighbours to the south.

Syria and Iraq are concerned that it will deprive them of water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on which they depend for fresh water.

Both Baghdad and Damascus have complained about the amount of water they have been getting since the completion of the first Turkish dams at the beginning of the 1990s. Reports also suggest that they fear Turkey’s ability to shut off their water supply in any possible future conflict.