Turkey uses water as weapon against NE Syria

This article by Şirîn Mihemed was published by Jinha Women’s News Agency on 22 November, 2022. It has been lightly edited here for readability in the English language translation.

The occupying Turkish state has cut the water off in North-East Syria regions to use water as a weapon against the people. But this practice has environmental and health effects on the region and agriculture, causing the spread of cholera.

While Turkey cutting off the water of North and East Syria causes many humanitarian, health and economic repercussions, there isn’t any international movement to pressure the Turkish state and Turkey-backed factions to neutralize the water issue in its war on the region. The deputy chair of the Environment Department in Cizre Canton of NE Syria, Alaa al-Satal, said during her interview with NuJIINHA, that the occupying Turkish state uses water as a weapon against the region’s people, emphasizing that there is no solution more than preserving the water resources in the region.

The use of prohibited weapons also affects the environment

Alaa al-Satal mentioned that many regions in Syria have suffered from environmental damage since the war started in Syria, adding that the war’s waste remains and chemical materials have negatively affected the environment for more than a decade. “In addition to these effects, the use of internationally prohibited weapons by the Turkish state in the region also affects the environment,” she said.  

The Turkish state continuously commits violations and war crimes, she said: “One of these practices is cutting off the water of the Euphrates River. This practice has many damages and negative effects on the environment and people’s lives in the region. The occupying Turkish state tries to use different policies to fight us since it cannot defeat us.”

Alaa al-Satal continued to speak as follows: “The water level of the Euphrates River has decreased due to the continuous water cut off by the Turkish state. When the water level decreases, swamps and insects appear and cause dangerous diseases, which affect the environment, people and animals. By the years, desertification appears especially at this time all over the world, suffering from the water crisis. This situation causes the lack of electricity production, the increase in use of generators that need more fuels and air pollution by toxic gas from generators and burners. Cutting off the water causes a wide range of connected environmental problems, which affect each other. Humans are linked to the environment and humanity will disappear when there are mistakes in their balance.”

“Cooperation and awareness can reduce environmental damages”

The lack of rainfall in recent years due to global warming leads to desertification, drought, disease and a lack of underground water, she said: “The occupying Turkish state sends the refugees back to Syria and the region needs more water; however, the level of the water is not sufficient for all people living in the region.”

Speaking about the importance of preserving the water resources, she said, “We should preserve the water resources in order not to face more problems in the future. We must work hard to reduce water scarcity.”

Mentioning the projects of the Environment Department, she said, “We try to overcome the problems by our means and to reduce the number of artesian wells. We must not waste water and use water to plant more trees in order to avoid deforestation and save the environment. Important steps can be simple but they have great effects in the future. We hold awareness-raising seminars for the people about the danger of the lack of water, environmental pollution and how they cannot waste water.”

She concluded her speech by saying, “We have to save the environment for the next generation’s future. If we don’t save our water resources, there will be no future for our children and environment.”

Unfortunately the video below is in Arabic and does not contain English subtitles.