Hydro-hegemony in the upper Jordan waterscape: Control and use of the flows

Mark Zeitoun
School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; khalumba@gmail.com
Karim Eid-Sabbagh
School of Oriental and African Studies, Houghton Square, London; talhami@gmail.com
Michael Talhami
Independent researcher, Amman, Jordan; monadajani39@gmail.com
Muna Dajani
Independent researcher, Jerusalem; monadajani39@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: This paper blends the analytical framework of hydro-hegemony with a waterscape reading to explore the use and methods of control of the Upper Jordan River flows. Seen as a sub-component of the broader Lebanon-Israel-Syria political conflict, the struggles over water are interpreted through evidence from the colonial archives, key informant interviews, media pieces, and policy and academic literature. Extreme asymmetry in the use and control of the basin is found to be influenced by a number of issues that also shape the concept of 'international waterscapes': political borders, domestic pressures and competition, perceptions of water security, and other non-material factors active at multiple spatial scales. Israeli hydro-hegemony is found to be independent of its riparian position, and due in part to its greater capacity to exploit the flows. More significant are the repeated Israeli expressions of hard power which have supported a degree of (soft) 'reputational' power, and enable control over the flows without direct physical control of the territory they run through -€“ which is referred to here as 'remote' control. The 2002 Lebanese challenge of the hegemony established shows that full consent has never been achieved, however, and suggests the maintenance of hydro-hegemony in this international waterscape relies on the reconstitution of reputational power.

KEYWORDS: Hydro-hegemony, waterscape, hydropolitics, water security, Jordan River, Lebanon, Syria, Israel