Iraq has requested Syria to increase the release of its water supplies in order to compensate for a shortage, caused by the low levels of rainfall and high temperatures this summer.
According to reports by Iraqi state media yesterday, the country’s Minister of Water Resources Mahdi Rashid Al-Hamdani announced that he “held a closed-circuit televised meeting with the Syrian Minister of Water Resources, Tammam Raad, to review the measures taken” regarding the signed accord during Al-Hamdani’s visit to Syria.
Syria agreed to the request and expressed its willingness to participate in joint meetings with both Iraq and Turkey, the minister said, thus including Damascus in the sharing and distribution, as well as the loss, of water resources.
Stating that the agreement is “a development in the field of joint cooperation in the water file,” Al-Hamdani added that the regional countries which share the Tigris and Euphrates river systems are liable to cooperate in the training, study and exchange of data regarding the issue of water resources.
As part of that endeavour, the minister said that Syria will be participating in a research centre to be established in Iraq for that purpose.
A shortage of water due to droughts and other environmental issues has been seen throughout the region in recent years, and at times it has exacerbated political disputes between neighbouring countries.
That has particularly been the case with Turkey, which holds the vast majority of water supplies due to the two major rivers running downstream from eastern Turkey. Iraq and Syria, therefore, largely rely on that water supply, and Turkey has in previous years been accused of leveraging it to its advantage. That was seen early this year with Baghdad’s talks with Turkey over a delayed water deal.
Iran also controls the water supply to Iraq. Over the past few months, Iraq has repeatedly urged Iran to increase its water supplies to the country, but with Tehran facing its own water crisis, that proved unsuccessful.
Baghdad resorted to filing a complaint at the United Nations about Iran, in efforts to secure its water rights. Al-Hamdani hopes that its agreement with Syria can help alleviate its water shortage crisis.