Kurdistan Iraq Demands Representation in Water Negotiations
Recently, the Iraqi Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Raed Al-Jashami, announced an agreement with Turkey and Iran to hold a specialized technical meeting in the near future to discuss the water file. This comes at a time when the country is facing the danger of drought.
The Iraqi News Agency, WAA, quoted Al-Jashami as saying that Baghdad has informed the upstream countries of the need to move towards permanent agreements and close the chapter of temporary agreements that were previously made, due to the changing water situation.
This step comes as Iraq faces a water shortage problem amid the risks of worsening drought with declining rainfall rates and low water levels from neighboring countries that supply the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, particularly Iran and Turkey, making Iraq the "fifth most affected country in the world" by climate change, according to the United Nations.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources in the Kurdistan Region has requested the federal government to have its representative in international negotiations on water, especially with Turkey and Iran.
Karim Sulaiman, Deputy Minister of Agriculture in the region, stated in press statements that the Minister of Water Resources and Agriculture in the Kurdistan Regional Government, Bakr Talabani, attended a committee meeting on water at the Iraqi level, chaired by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al-Sudani, two days ago.
A Common Issue
Mahmoud Khoshnaw, a leader in the Kurdistan Democratic Party, explained in exclusive statements to "The Reference" the reasons behind the region's demand for representation in water negotiations, considering it a common issue. He pointed out that a meeting was held under the chairmanship of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al-Sudani and with the presence of the Minister of Agriculture in the region, regarding the water issue and the negotiation process with Iran and Turkey as the upstream countries.
Khoshnaw clarified that the demand was made for the participation of the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Bakr Talabani, in the negotiations, as the rivers and tributaries that enter Iraqi territories pass through the Kurdistan Region, whether they come from Iran or Turkey.
He added that the first major dams in Iraq are located in the Kurdistan Region, so in order to deal with the issue of the source, outlet, watercourse, and the areas through which the water passes in Iraq, it is necessary for the region to have a say. He pointed out that the water issue in Iraq is a federal matter within the authority of the federal government, and there is an intention by the Iraqi government to build new dams in order to control floods, torrents, and benefit from them in other matters, given the decline in water levels in Iraq.
Khoshnaw further explained that there is a practical approach to providing agricultural water in Iraq and resolving problems with Turkey and Iran regarding the issue of water shares, navigation, and water poverty. He noted that all these matters have become a necessity for Iraq and have become priorities for the Iraqi government as well as the Kurdistan Regional Government. Therefore, demanding representation for the region is a positive and new step.
Khoshnaw clarified that after the demand of the Kurdistan Region to be represented in water negotiations with the upstream countries, the Council of Ministers agreed to include the Kurdistan Region delegation or representative as part of the negotiating delegation with Turkey and Iran regarding the water file.