Water: The Spigot Is Turned Off

The Spigot Is Turned Off

With the push of a button at the new Ataturk Dam last week, Turkey's President Turgut Ozal cut the flow of the Euphrates River to Syria and Iraq, his country's arid downstream neighbors, by 75%. The month-long diversion will enable Turkish engineers to fill a reservoir that will be used for irrigation and hydroelectric power.

Syria and Iraq expressed anger at the move, predicting that it would adversely affect their agriculture and power generation. Long-brewing tensions over the dam increased last summer when Ozal observed that his country might someday block the Euphrates to force an end to Syrian support of...