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The Yarmouk tributary to the Jordan River II: Infrastructure impeding the transformation of equitable transboundary water arrangements

Mark Zeitoun
School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; m.zeitoun@uea.ac.uk

Muna Dajani
Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK; m.d.dajani@lse.ac.uk

Chadi Abdallah
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Beirut, Lebanon; chadi@cnrs.edu.lb

Saʼeb Khresat
Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan; khresats@gmail.com

Heather Elaydi
Independent researcher; heather.elaydi@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: This article explores the ways in which key components of infrastructure built on the Yarmouk tributary to the Jordan River induce or impede the transformation of existing transboundary water arrangements. Focussing on the Jordanian-Israeli Adassiyeh Weir and on the Jordanian-Syrian Wehdeh Dam, the article interprets archival documents, official river-gauging data, and interviews through a frame that highlights depoliticisation by hydrocracies within the politics of international infrastructure. The weir is found to be operated in a manner that prioritises Jordanʼs commitment to Israel when flows are low, and to be designed to bound the volume that Jordan can make use of during low or very high flows. The dam appears oversized but regulates the flow to the downstream weir when its reservoir does not lie empty. The design and operation of the infrastructure is found to partially and selectively depoliticise contentious transboundary water issues in a manner that privileges the more powerful actors. Transformation of the arrangements is impeded as the distribution and use of the flows is not questioned by the water authorities or the international diplomatic community, and alternative arrangements are not considered.

KEYWORDS: Jordan River, Yarmouk, transboundary water, treaties, agreements, international infrastructure, power, Jordan, Syria, Israel