Iraq on Saturday asked Turkey to increase the flow of two key rivers southwards into the neighbouring country amid droughts and tensions between Ankara and Baghdad over resource management, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Iraqi Water Minister Mehdi al-Hamdani and the Turkey’s president’s special representative for Iraq, Veysel Eroğlu, discussed “quantities of water arriving in Iraq through the Tigris and Euphrates” from Turkey, it cited an Iraqi statement as saying.
Iraq receives most of its water from two rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris, whose sources are in Turkey. Turkey has built a series of dams across the rivers under its Southeastern Anatolia Project, including the large Ilisu hydroelectric plant opened in 2019 and Iraq regularly complains the projects threaten access to its most important sources of freshwater.
Hamdani asked Turkey via videoconference “to re-examine the amounts of water released, in order to allow Iraq to overcome the current water shortage”, according to AFP, with Eroğlu saying he would pass on the request to water authorities in Ankara to “increase the amounts of water released in the coming days, according to (Turkey’s) available reserves.”
The sides agreed that an Iraqi “technical delegation” would visit Turkey and allowed to “evaluate Turkish dam reserves on site,” the agency said.
Earlier this week, Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, Ali Rıza Güney, sparked anger when he accused Iraqis of “squandering” water resources as he took to Twitter urging “immediate measures to reduce the waste” including “the modernisation of irrigation systems”.
Baghdad responded that Ankara was assuming “the right to reduce Iraq’s water quota”.
Iraq has seen three years of successive droughts with cultivated agricultural areas for its 42 million inhabitants being halved during this time.