Signs of de-escalation on the water spat between Turkey and Iraq

Signs of de-escalation on the water spat between Turkey and Iraq
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Ankara agrees to consider Baghdad’s request to increase the flow of water along the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers

Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources announced that Water Minister Mehdi Al-Hamdani held a video call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Special Representative for Iraq, Veysel Eroglu, about the situation. According to the statement, the two sides discussed the “quantities of water arriving in Iraq through the Tigris and Euphrates” from Turkey. 

The Iraqi minister asked for Ankara “to re-examine the amount of water released, in order to allow Iraq to overcome its current water shortage.” Eroglu promised to pass along the request to the relevant authorities in Ankara “to increase the amounts of water released in the coming days, according to available reserves,” said the statement.

Both sides also agreed for an Iraqi technical delegation to visit Turkey and “evaluate Turkish dam reserves on site.”

Speaking to Iraqi News Agency (INA), spokesperson Ali Radi claimed that the Turkish side pledged to increase the flow of water in the coming days. There has not been any official word from Ankara on the subject.

Managing water resources has been a source of contention between Ankara and Baghdad for some time. Recently, Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, Ali Riza Guney, blamed the water shortage suffered by Iraq on the country’s population, saying that “water is largely wasted in Iraq.” He also called for ”immediate measures to reduce this waste,” suggesting that Turkish companies were standing by to help improve the infrastructure of Iraq.

Al-Hamdani called Guney's remarks "incorrect," and called on the Foreign Ministry of Iraq to "summon the ambassador and submit a note of protest against his repeated statements on this topic," according to a report by INA. The minister also blamed Turkey for using "water waste" as a pretext to cut the water supply to Iraq.

Iraq is the world’s fifth most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change, according to the UN. Water reserves have tanked 60 percent compared to 2021 according to official figures.