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Al-Dughmi’s proposal: Would Amman knock on Damascus’ door?

Fahed Khitan (Photo: Jordan News)
In the Lower House’s last session, MP Abdulkarim Al-Dughmi spoke heatedly about the choice of resorting to Israel to buy drinking water to cover the acute shortage Jordan is facing this season. After he expressed his rejection of this choice, Dughmi proposed that the government rely Syria to cover our water needs.اضافة اعلان

If we really had the choice between two sources, a Syrian one and Israeli one, everyone, without exceptions, would lean towards choosing Syria. Jordan gets its share, or less than its share, from Israel, under the Wadi Araba Treaty, and we do not want to need them for any more than that. We should have an alternative in seasons like this one, where rain was scarce and water reserves are suffering a huge deficit, causing for a punishing summer for citizens. 

Let us take Dughmi’s proposal seriously. After all, the man is not a novice in Parliament and politics, and has good relations with Arab countries, owing to his long career as an MP. He is respected in Syrian political circles. All of these are qualities that can be invested in testing Damascus’ position on this matter.

An agreement was signed in 1987 to govern water relations between Jordan and Syria, under which the Wehdah Dam was established on the border between the two countries. Jordan continuously says that the Syrian side did not satisfy its end of the bargain in providing the Kingdom with its share of water from the Yarmouk River. This is evident in the modest reserve of the Wehdah Dam. On the other hand, Syria established dozens of dams on the other side of Yarmouk, preventing Jordan from getting its water share from the river.

These are undisputed facts, over which long discussions were held over the past decades, without fruition. This case, along with other border-related issues, remains outstanding considering the unfortunate events taking place in Syria preventing their resolution.

Recently, second-track Jordanian-Syrian communications were revived, and several meetings were held with the aim of reviving economic relations between the two countries, but we could not verify whether these talks included the topic of water and Jordan’s share of the Yarmouk River.

It is true that political relations between the two countries are not at their best, and that economic relations are strained by Caesar Act, but this does not prevent Jordan from raising the water issue with Syria, in light of our dire need to cover this summer’s shortage.

In coordination with the House of Representatives and the government, Dughmi can form an official delegation, with the participation of government officials, to visit Damascus at the nearest opportunity and convince it to supply Jordan with water urgently, instead of forcing Jordan to resort to Israel to cover its needs.

Such a visit would be a noble manifestation of the principle of parliamentary diplomacy, and utilizing it for national interests. I see no harm in forming a joint parliamentary-governmental delegation for such a noble cause.

Some wager that the Syrian leadership would not respond to the Jordanian requests, and would be content with making empty promises. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and give Deputy Dughmi his chance; this might be an opportunity for things to get back on track between the two countries.

Let’s knock on Damascus’ door, might we get a good response. 

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