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Tensions Rise as Turkey Builds a Dam on Ancient Land

The completion of the Ilisu Dam will result in the destruction of more than 248 miles of the Tigris's ecosystem, lead to the relocation of up to 70,000 people, and submerge numerous settlements.

by Raphaël Fournier
18 November 2016, 12:00am

By the end of 2016, the Turkish government plans to complete the Ilisu Dam, located on the Tigris River in the southeastern part of the country. It is one of 22 dams within the Southeastern Anatolia Project (Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi, or GAP), a massive government development directive. The completion of the dam will result in the destruction of more than 248 miles of the Tigris's ecosystem, lead to the relocation of up to 70,000 people, and submerge numerous settlements, including large parts of the historic town of Hasankeyf—a site of cultural importance to ethnic Kurds and of international archaeological renown. Additionally, the project has the potential to foment international tensions, with Iraq's government voicing concern over the dam's effect on the Tigris's flow within Iraq's borders. Here, a child stands in the middle of a group of women resting by the construction site.