Photo Credit: Frank Behrends via Wikimedia Commons.
General cargo vessel Rhosus passing Istanbul on July 30, 2011. The vessel was later abandoned in Beirut and sank in 2018. The cargo, stowed in a nearby warehouse, caused the 2020 Beirut explosion.

The ancient city of Constantinople, today known as Istanbul, could run dry by March 1 if rain does not fall.

That might be awkward for more than just Turkey: Israel’s national carrier, El Al Airlines buys all of its bottled water for its packaged meals on its flights, from Turkey.


But the country is now facing its worst drought in more than a decade.

Istanbul, home to more than 17 million people, has very little water remaining to slake the thirst of its residents.

In fact, sparse rainfall this year has led to critically low levels of water, according to the country’s chamber of chemical engineers, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Izmir and Bursa are also facing water shortages: In Izmir, the dams are at just 36 percent capacity; local authorities there are digging 103 new boreholes, recycling wastewater and repairing aging pipes according to Mayor Tunç Soyer.

In Bursa the dams are only at 24 percent capacity. Farmers in the Konya plain and Edirne province along the border with Greece and Bulgaria, where wheat is grown, are warning the crops may fail.

Imams have been instructed by the government to lead their congregations in prayers for rain.

According to the InHabitat news site, Turkey has just 1,346 cubic meters of water available per person per year, with severe droughts plaguing the country since the 1980s.

The situation has worsened due to climate change accelerated by industrialization, urbanization and population growth.

Israel, Turkey’s former ally, has the technology to make water from thin air. And desalination plants — all of which Turkey needs.

But Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hates Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israel. In a speech at the United Nations last September, Erdogan praised the Palestinian Authority for “standing up against Israel’s policies of oppression, violence, and intimidation for more than half a century.”

But now the clock is ticking.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.