An Enhanced notion of power for inter-state and transnational hydropolitics: An Analysis of Turkish- Syrian Water Relations and the Ilısu Dam Conflict between the Opponents and Proponents of the Dam

Conker, Ahmet (2014) An Enhanced notion of power for inter-state and transnational hydropolitics: An Analysis of Turkish- Syrian Water Relations and the Ilısu Dam Conflict between the Opponents and Proponents of the Dam. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This study analyses Turkey’s relations with states and non-state actors on transboundary
water issues by examining hydropolitics at the inter-state and transnational layers from 1923
to 2011. The cases investigated are Turkish – Syrian relations primarily over the Euphrates
and Tigris basin, and relations between opponents and proponents over the construction of
the Ilısu Dam, which is currently underway. Turkey is fully engaged in its ‘hydraulic
mission’, very extensively and rapidly ‘developing’ water resources throughout its territory.
Some of these flows cross international borders, specifically the very heavily contested
Euphrates and Tigris basin. This large basin has attracted considerable academic attention,
notably in regards to Turkey’s relations with downstream neighbours Syria, Iraq. Yet, the
great bulk of the existing analysis falls prey to two broader weaknesses: a) it has narrowly
applied the recently developed literature regarding the role of power in transboundary water
politics, and b) it has also neglected or under-emphasised how non-state actors enrol in
hydropolitical processes.
Informed by deep investigation of the cases, the study develops and applies the distinct
theoretical framework referred to as “An Enhanced Analytical Framework of Power in
Hydropolitics”. The theoretical framework includes the conceptual frameworks that critically
look at the role of power in transboundary water basins in terms of material and discursive
power capabilities of actors. It also enhances the existing conceptual frameworks by
demonstrating the following key elements of power: a) scalar dynamics (where actors are
located and they interact with one another) and its linkage with power and b) the role of
values and norms in terms of conflictual/cooperative hydropolitical relations and their linkage
with power. Thus, the broader notion of power employed and elaborated upon here enables
the analyst to understand how power influences the outcome of interactions, conflictual and
cooperative relations between the actors in question. Constructivist approaches in the theories
of international relations and its application to hydropolitics and other critical conceptual
approaches to transboundary water politics have been used in making the analysis.
The theoretical framework makes an original contribution to existing conceptual frameworks,
as it widens understanding and role of power in hydropolitics. The application of the
theoretical framework to Turkish-Syrian hydropolitical relations and relations between the
III
opponents and proponents over the construction of the Ilısu dam provides an empirical
contribution to knowledge. The analysis shows how power dynamics as well as conflictual
and cooperative relations dramatically change in different hydropolitical eras. By
highlighting the influence the transnational anti-dam activist networks, the study shows the
relevance of including non-state actors into the analysis. One of the several conclusions
drawn is that such actors lack material power but are able to use discursive (ideational and
bargaining) power very effectively to meet their interests.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2014 13:48
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2014 13:48
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48763
DOI:

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