Sustainable transboundary water governance is often challenged by conflicts between agents, which necessitates the design of cooperative and self-enforcing alternatives to facilitate equitable water distribution. The Nash bargaining approach, which originated from game theory, could offer a good mathematical framework to simulate strategic interactions among involved agents by considering individual rational benefits. Given that river-sharing problems often involve multiple self-interested agents, the asymmetric Nash bargaining solution (ANBS) could be used to describe agents’ powers, as determined by disparate social, economic, and political as well as military status, and ensure win–win strategies based on individual rationality. This paper proposed an asymmetric bargaining model by combining multi-criteria decision making, bankruptcy theory, and the ANBS for water distribution in the transboundary river context. The Euphrates River Basin (ERB) with three littoral states was used as a case study. Turkey has the highest bargaining power in ERB negotiation since it dominates in terms of economic strength, political influence, and military capacity, whereas in the two downstream countries these aspects are limited due to their internal political fragmentation and weaker military status. The water satisfaction percentages of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq under the best alternative are 96.30%, 84.23%, and 40.88%, respectively. The findings highlight the necessity for synthetically considering the agent’s disagreement utility and asymmetrical power when negotiating over water allocation.
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