An Iraqi delegation will visit Turkey early next month as water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have decreased by more than 50%, a spokesperson for Iraq’s water ministry told state media on August 22.
“This year is a water-scarce one, and there is a clear decrease in water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to the point that their water levels have dropped by more than 50 percent. That is in addition to a major drop in the water levels at Dukan, Darbandikhan, Sirwan, and Diyala dams,” spokesperson Ali Radhi told state media.
The Tigris and Euphrates have their sources in Turkey and pass through Syria before joining in Iraq and spilling into the Persian Gulf. They are significant water resources for all three nations.
“Many meetings have been held with the Turkish and Syrian sides on the water issue, and there is an expected visit of an Iraqi delegation to Turkey at the beginning of next month to continue talks on Iraq’s share of water and the situation of the Tigris and Euphrates,” said Radhi.
He said Iraq is also preparing for a tripartite meeting with Turkey and Syria to discuss “the issue of sharing damage in the water scarcity period, completing the discussion on the joint protocol between Iraq and Turkey, and establishing a research team in Iraq” to study the issue.
Teams from Turkey’s water ministry have previously visited Iraq.
In July, the Turkish Consul General to Mosul Mehmet Kucuksakalli told Iraqi state media that water resources are a matter of “great importance,” and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has formed a team to address water problems impacting Iraq.
The consul added at the time that Turkey had never blocked water from Iraq. Turkey has built the massive Ilisu Dam on the Tigris.
Iraq and Syria also signed an agreement on the water in July. “Both sides agreed to activate joint cooperation, exchange experiences, intensify the holding of technical and administrative meetings between the two sides and share the damage resulting from the decrease in water imports,” read a statement from the Iraqi ministry.
Low precipitation levels this year have created drought-like conditions in all three countries. Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq Ali Riza Guney last month said rainfall had decreased by almost 40% in Turkey.
According to the UN, Iraq is the fifth-most vulnerable nation in the world to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity. Yet, it lags behind its neighbors in creating a plan to manage its water resources better. Quarrels with neighbors, soil erosion, the disappearance of rare species – read more here about what Turkey has achieved by building dams.