ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iran’s representative in Sulaimani on Monday offered assurances that concerns regarding the restricted water flow to the Kurdistan Region would be addressed by Tehran as Iraqi and Kurdish officials warn of an impending water crisis.
“We have heard your concerns regarding the water issue in Qaladze,” said Saadullah Masoudiyan, the Iranian Consul to the Sulaimani Province, in a press conference following a meeting with a provincial council delegation headed by its leader, Azad Mohammed Amin.
The meeting was held in the wake of what has been described as an ‘impending water crisis’ by Iraqi and Kurdish officials.
On Saturday, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources asserted Iran had deliberately cut water flow to the Lower Zab River, which feeds into the town of Qaladze in Sulaimani Province. Drinking water for its residents and fish farms were directly affected.
“We will send a team [comprised of representatives from both sides] tomorrow to investigate the facts of the matter,” Masoudiyan stated.
Masoudiyan claimed the Sardasht dam [on the Iranian part of the Zab river] had not been closed off, adding it is being used “as a hydro-electric plant, not an agricultural dam.”
Masoudiyan asked the KRG “to call upon the Iraqi Federal government to answer our request to form a commission,” which would deal with the terms of usage for rivers the Kurdistan Region and Iran share.
Amin, on his part, stated that in the meeting, the Consul “assured us they regarded the issue as a [serious] humanitarian one and would not allow a crisis to take place.”
In a meeting on Sunday with the country’s Vice-Presidents, Iraq’s President, Fuad Masum, discussed the looming water crisis and the actions the government needs to take to address the concerns of those affected.
On the same day, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi headed a meeting on the issue, reportedly adopting “the necessary actions to strengthen water security for the coming summer.”
According to Iraqi officials, some seven million people in the country are expected to be directly affected by the water shortage.
Both Iranian and Turkish officials have expressed their readiness to cooperate with Iraq to address the issue, but the practical steps have yet to be taken.
Editing by Nadia Riva