Iraq yet to reach deal with Iran on water issue, says minister

Members of the Iraqi Water Sports Federation are pictured on the banks of the river Tigris, in the Adhamiya district of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, on October 15, 2020. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq has yet to reach an agreement with Iran on the issue of water, said minister of water resources, as Tehran continues to restrict flows into rivers in Iraq.

Iraqi minister of water resources Mahdi Rashid al-Hamdani said there were “indications” that Iran is digging tunnels and trying to change water routes.

“We have important cards to use to secure our water rights,” Hamdani said during an interview with al-Iraqiya News on Tuesday.

“The ministry of foreign affairs is to internationalize the water issue with Iran,” he added.

Hamdani further said the ministry had officially informed Iran of its violations, but it did not respond to Iraq.

In July, Hamdani warned Iran that it would resort to international community to secure its water rights if Tehran did not release more water down rivers in Diyala province.

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

The two neighboring countries are holding back water to fill reservoirs, a step that has alarmed Iraq and caused shortages in the country.

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.

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