ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iran has restricted the flow of water to border towns after the Kurdistan Region’s successful referendum on secession from Iraq, Kurdish farmers in the Region say.
Having joined Iraq and Turkey in punishing the Kurdistan Region for holding a democratic vote, Iran has limited the flow of water from the Little Zab.
Also known as the Lower Zab, the river originates in Iran and joins the Tigris just south of Al Zab in the Region.
The river is approximately 400 kilometers-long (250 miles) and drains an area of about 22,000 square kilometers (8,500 square miles).
In addition to farming, Kurdistan uses the Lower Zab water to produce electricity and, therefore, Iran’s decision could increase hydro problems in the Region.
Iran rejected the claims that it uses water to wage war and claimed it needed the water for national use.
But, Kurdish farmers said the water level was reduced right after the referendum, Al Jazeera reported.
Iran has already threatened Kurdistan and halted flights. Tehran is also expected to cooperate with the Iraqi army and close the Kurdistan Region borders, Iranian media claimed.
On July 26, Iran closed the water flow from the Lower Zab on the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr.
Three weeks before the closure, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani had declared that an independence referendum would be held in September.
Environmental activists protested Iran’s decision to redirect the water from the Lower Zab to Urmia Lake.
Abdulstar Majeed, the Kurdistan Region Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, complained that Iran had reduced water flow to the Region by 80 percent.
Iran declared the decision had been a measurement to prevent the drainage of the Urmia river.
Experts said the decision negatively affected the environment, did not prevent the death of Urmia Lake, and was a political move.
Iranian officials disregarded the warnings about environmental damages and continued with their plans.
Conflicts over water have long haunted the Middle East. In the ongoing fight in Iraq, the major dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are not just seen as strategic targets but as powerful weapons of war.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany