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BAGHDAD, June 14 (UPI) -- Amid the profound political changes sweeping the Arab world, there are moves to rewrite contentious water-sharing agreements that are becoming a major source of friction in the Middle East as water supplies shrink.
In May, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned his neighbors, with Turkey and Syria his main targets, that the region faces conflict unless the issue of dwindling water resources is addressed by regional governments.
Baghdad is increasingly angry and frustrated at the failure of Turkey, in the north, and Syria, to the west, to resolve a growing crisis over the reduced flow and the deteriorating quality of water from the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers they allow Iraq.
Maliki's biggest fear is that the water shortage, which has been worsening for a decade or more, will trigger violence within Iraq.
The water issue is a constant factor in the tension between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
The business weekly said "the most contentious dispute over water resources in the region" centers on the Jordan River, which flows through Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Jordan and Israel.
Israelis use 66 gallons a day, while Palestinians are limited to 15.4 gallons, even though they claim a major underground aquifer and access to Jordan River.
Rivers including the Euphrates, Tigris, Nile and even the Jordan River, which cross national boundaries and are a major source of water supply, could well become flashpoints for rising regional tension.
"Equally, governments' ability to manage their rivers and negotiate with their upstream neighbors could well, as is the case in Iraq, lead to growing unrest at home," the weekly warned.
Eight upstream states, led by Ethiopia, where the Blue Nile rises, have been demanding a more equitable share of the Nile's waters that have been controlled by Cairo under British colonial era agreements.
Mubarak refused to surrender Egypt's right to 75 percent of the Nile's flow under agreements these states argue have become historical relics.
The Nile is Egypt's lifeline. With a population of 82 million expected to hit 101 million by 2025, it's going to need much more water than it currently gets.
Egypt's new rulers may be more accommodating but to do that they'll have to find another source of water while Ethiopia and the upstream states build dozens of dams to satisfy their burgeoning populations.