The geopolitical overlay of the hydropolitics of the Harirud River Basin

Nagheeby, Mohsen; Warner, Jeroen


This paper explores the geopolitical overlay that is shaping dynamic hydropolitical interactions of the Harirud River Basin, which is a basin that spans Afghanistan, Iran and Turkmenistan. This paper argues that the control and capture of water resources are not solely for economic development but rather for geopolitical reasons that serve the security interests of the actors involved, particularly outside-basin powers like the US and India. The Afghan Government similarly views dams as symbols of nation-building and a way of staying in power. In the absence of a lasting trilateral agreement, the existing nature of the geopolitical dynamics of the basin has led upstream Afghanistan and downstream Iran and Turkmenistan to unilaterally establish their rights to control the “rules of the game”. This paper suggests that sustainable solutions will not be reached unless the geopolitical nature of the basin and outside interventions can center on a normative understanding of the regional interests, identities, and commonalities of all the riparian states.