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Title: 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
Author: Conker, Ahmet
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 8629
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2014
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available