Iraq seeks to intensify discussions with Turkey to remedy possible water crisis

author_image Hiwa Shilani
Iraq is suffering from an early drought that has caused a decline in the water level in most of its lakes and rivers. (Photo: AFP)
Iraq is suffering from an early drought that has caused a decline in the water level in most of its lakes and rivers. (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources said Friday that it will send a technical delegation to Turkey within the next two weeks to discuss the burgeoning water crisis between the two countries.

This comes at a time when Iraq is suffering from the early effects of a drought caused by a decline in the water level of the country’s lakes and rivers, while the Kurdistan Region is grappling with decreased water supply and has declared 2021 a "dry year."

Iraq in part blames Turkey, which has built more than 1,000 new dams over the past 18 years. Another 90 dams are expected to be completed this year.

Ankara has itself said on multiple occasions that Turkey is experiencing increasing water stress due to climate change and increasing demand, and has indicated that its water availability per capita is declining.

During the past weeks, Baghdad has intensified contact with the upstream countries – Iran and Turkey – to persuade them to increase water released to Iraq.

Minister of Water Resources Mahdi al-Hamdani said that a technical delegation would visit Turkey on June 21 to discuss “water releases on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers,” state news agency INA reported.

Shared water sources have become a growing source of political tension between Turkey and its neighbors, especially Iraq and Syria, which are suffering from a drought.

This year's rainfall has fallen to an unprecedented level, the lowest in decades, at a time when Iran has also diverted the paths of many of its rivers that traditionally supply Iraq.

Iraqi officials say they will continue to press both Ankara and Tehran for a satisfactory solution, while Turkey and Iran claim that building dams is a matter of national security.