Water issue bolsters Turkey-Russia ties
Turkish and Russian military delegations reached an agreement to cooperate in finding a solution to the electricity-related water problem in northeast Syria during their visit to the Allouk Water Station and the Mabrouka Power Plant this week.
Located in the Hassakeh province, the Allouk Water
Station is considered by the UN as the only viable water source in northeast Syria. It has been experiencing interruptions caused by the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is the Syrian wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The YPG occupies the electric center in Darbasiyah where states operate on power. The Turkish and Russian military delegations have been holding talks on solving the problem for a while.
The Allouk station supplies water to almost 460,000 people in both areas controlled by Turkish forces and the YPG in northeast Syria. However, it has been reported that the YPG has deprived the people living in Turkish-controlled areas of electricity produced from the dams on the Euphrates River since April. This has adversely affected the agricultural sector, which is the main source of income for that region.
On the other side, the YPG claims Turkey is using water as a tool to pressure the local authorities into giving them more electricity in Turkishcontrolled areas. In an attempt to incite international hostility against Turkey, the YPG and the Syrian regime have frequently claimed that Turkey was the reason for water shortages.
According to Syrian media,
Syrian People’s Assembly Speaker
Hammoudeh Sabbagh has sent 48 letters to the UN secretary-general, high commissioner for human rights, and Arab parliamentary organizations urging them to condemn Turkey over water cut-offs in the northeastern Hassakeh province. The matter was also raised by the UN but Ankara rejected the approach taken by the international body, asking it to avoid acting in a biased manner over the issue.
Despite their conflicting interests, Syria has been the main political issue between Ankara and Moscow for a decade. Thanks to ambivalences in Turkish-American relations, Russia took the opportunity to overcome its differences with Ankara concerning Syria.
The matter of US support for the YPG/SDF has especially bedeviled relations between Washington and Ankara and has pushed the latter to increase its cooperation with Russia over the Kurdish threat. In recent years, Moscow and Ankara have been motivated to work together to counter US influence in northeastern Syria and American cooperation with YPG/SDF forces.
Russia and Turkey have weathered storms in their complicated relations through cooperation in multiple areas. Thus, two states of the Astana peace process, which also involves Iran, have found the water issue a new area for cooperation. In the water issue, Russia, rather than the US, has become the main actor on the ground, seeking a solution between Turkey and the