Freshwater scarcity is an increasingly important aspect of the international relations of the Middle East and North Africa, and is magnified when sources are shared between states. In the Jordanian, Israeli and Syrian cases, most of their freshwater sources are shared. At the same time, cooperation between these states has emerged. This paper examines inter-state cooperation by considering freshwater scarcity issues in Jordanian-Israeli-Syrian relations. This study argues that three factors help determine whether freshwater scarcity leads to conflict or cooperation between riparian states: the nature and intensity of the scarcity, the level of interdependence between the actors sharing this resource, and their level of engagement in international institutions. It concludes that cooperation is possible between states (even those with difficulties in other areas of their relationship) when the scarcity experienced is intense, they are interdependent in this and other spheres, and they engage with each other through international institutions.

Imad H. El-Anis