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Iraq, Turkey Meet On Dams, Shared Water Resource Imperatives


Meeting Turkish envoy Veysel Eroglu July 31 in Baghdad, Iraq President Barham Salih confirmed that the two countries’ water issues are shared priorities, and that a long-term solution that guaranteed the rights of both parties was required.

Turkey and Iraq share the water of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers which flow from Turkey and pass through Iraq towards the Persian Gulf. The sharing of water is a long-standing area of contention between the countries.

Currently, Turkey is holding back water from the Tigris River to fill its reservoir at the Ilisu dam, causing shortages in Iraq’s southern province of Basra. Satellite images appear to show that the dam has started to fill.

Iraq’s water shortages have led to bans on rice planting, and driven farmers to leave their land. Basra province has seen months of street protests over the lack of clean drinking water (OOSKAnews).

An agreement has been reached to establish a water resources center in Baghdad to study regional water issues and to develop an action plan.

Eroğlu said: "We want friendship between Iraq and Turkey, to grow even stronger. We will establish a center in Baghdad to study and locate water sources.”

Iraqi Water Resources Minister Jamal Adili agreed that the meeting on water issues went well.

In addition, officials from Turkey, Iraq and Kurdistan were expected to meet on August 1 to finalize a budget-sharing agreement related to the construction of 3 dams in Kurdistan's Mergasor district which will increase water storage for irrigation and drinking water supply and produce 120 MW of electricity.

Local activists claim the dams will harm ecosytems and limit downstream flows.