Iraqi parliament holds session on water crisis amid dam construction in Turkey


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SULAIMANI — The Iraqi Parliament is demanding answers from Turkish Ambassador to Iraq concerning the water crisis in the country, after Turkey cut water flows of Tigris River by half.

The Iraqi Parliament held an emergency session on Sunday (June 3) regarding the water crisis caused by the construction of the Ilısu Dam in Turkey.

Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Humam Hamoudi, said in a statement that the Council of Representatives would deliver an immediate letter to the Turkish Parliament demanding it delay filling the reservoir behind the Ilisu dam for three months.

The deputy speaker added the Parliament also called for the formation of a delegation of MPs and relevant ministry officials to visit Turkey and to negotiate an agreement with Turkish officials on the issue.

“The Turkish Ambassador in Baghdad has been called to appear before Parliament to inform him of the stance of the Iraqi state and to communicate the demands [of Iraq] to Turkish the presidency and people,” the statement read.

Turkish ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz, said on Sunday that Turkey also considered Tigris and Euphrates Rivers as joint water resource and that he would deliver the complaints of Iraqis to Ankara.

The Ilisu dam, one of 22 dams in the Southeastern Anatolia Project, is located on the Tigris River near the village of Ilisu and along the border between the provinces of Mardin and Sirnak, near the Iraqi-Syrian-Turkish border, and will have a storage capacity of 10.4 billion cubic meters.

As for the dangers of the dam, observers believe that "the Ilısu Dam, planned to build since the 1950s will reduce the amount of water flowing to Iraq by up to 50 percent."

Official sources have warned that this reduction in water resources may spur large-scale migration. Approximately, seven million families live on the Tigris River and may choose to leave if there is not enough water for agriculture or other uses.

According to media reports, the decline in the flow of water has already had an impact on agriculture in Iraq, where the area of land planted during the last season fell by half.