Turkish delegation to visit Iraq on water issue: consul

Iraqi men move a boat that was stuck on the banks of the Euphrates River in Twairij, roughly 20 kilometers east of Karbala, on April 8, 2014. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — A Turkish government’s delegation will pay a visit to Iraq in the near future to solve the issue of water between the two countries, according to a Turkish diplomat.

Turkish Consul-General to Mosul Mehmet Kucuksakalli said the issue of water “is very important” between Iraq and Turkey and that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed professor Fayaqsoglu, who is specialized in the field, Iraq’s state news agency INA reported on Saturday.

“A very large working group has been formed … to solve the water problem in Iraq,” Kucuksakalli told INA.

A delegation from the Turkish ministry of water resources would visit Iraq soon to study the water situation in Iraq, he said.

“The water during this year is very scarce in Iraq and Turkey because of the low rainfalls,” the Turkish consul noted, stressing that Turkey had never cut off water flow into Iraq.

Iraq is facing water shortages due to low rainfalls and reduction of water flows from Iran and Turkey.

The two neighboring countries are holding back water on the Tigris River and rivers flowing from Iran to fill reservoirs, a step that has alarmed Iraq and caused shortages in the country.

A delegation from the Iraqi government visited Turkey two weeks ago, the Turkish consul said, noting that “studies were carried out on the Tigris River in Turkey.”

Iraq is mostly desert. Its inhabitable areas are fed by the Tigris from Turkey, the Euphrates from Turkey and Syria, and a network of rivers from Iran.

In May, spokesman of the Iraqi water resources ministry Ali Radi said levels of water in the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers had dropped by 50% compared to last year.

In 2011, former Iraqi minister of agriculture Izzedine al-Dawla said millions of Iraqis might have no access to clean water in 15 to 20 years.

“Our expectation is that after 15 to 20 years the people in the provinces will wake up to find no safe water for drinking and agriculture in the Tigris and Euphrates,” al-Dawla said.

Water shortages pose a big challenge for Iraq due to a rising population, depletion of resources, lack of rainfall and advancing desertification, according to officials.

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