ZALIN, Syria — In a conversation with SuroyoTV, agricultural engineer Barsoum Sharo spoke about the current lack of rain in the region and the negative effects on North and East Syria.
Precipitation across the region has been low, nearly 50% of previous years. Such a low rainfall, said Sharo, will be potentially disastrous for agriculture.
The closed stabile watershed is the Taurus Mountains in southern Turkey where the precipitation rate is expected to remain high.
Sharo predicted that the next period of rain may hurt the soil more than it helps, explaining that, paradoxically, the dry conditions may increase flooding and topsoil erosion.
Sharo concluded the interview by advocating for the adoption of more sustainable agricultural techniques in the long-term to help mitigate the negative effects of drought, likely to increase as the global climate crisis worsens.
Turkey’s Role in the North and East Syria Water Crisis
Turkey’s repeated cutting off of the water supply to North and East Syria’s Hasakah Canton has exacerbated the region’s water issues.
The flow of water from the Alouk water station outside Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) to Hasakah Canton in North and East Syria was cutoff once again in December by Turkey and its proxies in the Syrian National Army (SNA) — a collection of militias, including several espousing Islamist ideologies.
The Water Directorate of Hasakah declared a state of emergency due to the cutting of water. Khaled Hami, an administrator in the Water Directorate in Tel Tamr area, called on humanitarian organizations to secure water for the residents of Hasakah city, Tel Tamr, and the surrounding countryside.
The Co-Chair of the Water Directorate appealed to international organizations to meet the need of the more than 1.2 million residents affected by the shortage.
To help alleviate the effects of past water shortages, the local administration of Hasakah city dug a series of wells throughout the city. However, the wells are suffering from seasonal decline and cannot meet the needs of the region.
Hami stated that Turkish occupation forces have prevented workers from repairing the malfunctions that have caused the water cut off.
In a press statement made back in March, UNICEF called for an end to the disruptions of the water supply from Alouk, warning of a humanitarian crisis in the spread of the coronavirus:
“The interruption of water supply during the current efforts to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease puts children and families at unacceptable risk. Handwashing with soap is critical in the fight against COVID-19.
The station is the main source of water for around 460,000 people in al-Hasskeh city, Tal Tamer and the al-Hol and Areesha camps. Uninterrupted, reliable access to safe water is essential to ensure children and families in the area don’t have to resort to unsafe water sources.”
Alouk provides drinking water for at least half-a-million civilians and is routinely deactivated by the Turkish military and SNA in an attempt to put pressure on the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East Syria and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and force the allocation of electricity to occupied Rish Ayno as well as to stretch the limited resources of the DAA.
“This has led to a deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Hasakah, which is home to more than a million people, and is home to thousands of displaced people, and the situation is getting worse,” said Goreya.
In a July interview with SuroyoTV, Co-Chair of the Water Directorate for Hasakah Canton Sozdar Ahmed described the situation:
“The main water station is the Alouk station which belongs to Ras al-Ayn [Rish Ayno] and has been under the control of the Turkish factions since October 2019. This greatly affected the water situation, as water was cut off several times in the city of Hasakah due to targeting the station.”
Alouk has been purposefully deactivated multiple times by occupying Turkish forces. In a 17 February 2020 report published by PopularFront detailing Turkey’s targeting of water stations in North and East Syria, Kimberly Westenhiser wrote:
“Alouk was targeted by artillery and machine gun fire in April of 2017, when tensions between the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia and the Turkish military escalated. The damage stopped operations for a 24-hour period before repairs could be made. This was followed by another strike in 2018, and another in July 2019, according to [Sozdar Ahmed].”
Shutting down Alouk isn’t the only means by which Turkey has weaponized water in its campaign to occupy and demographically change northern Syria. Turkey has severely reduced the amount of water flowing in the Euphrates River to drought-like levels by restricting the flow through its upstream dams.
In July, Co-Chair of the Syriac Union Party (SUP) in Syria Sanharib Barsoum stressed to SuroyoTV stressed that the drying of the Euphrates River threatens a humanitarian disasters and that Turkey is engaging in collective punishment against the people of North and East Syria.
In its war against the people of North and East Syria, Turkey has used water as a weapon, said Barsoum, stating that reducing the flow of the Euphrates is only the latest violation of Turkey in this regard.