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Baghdad slams Turkey's water policy

BAGHDAD – Agence France-Presse | 5/25/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Turkey's restriction of water flows along rivers through to Iraq is "unacceptable" and the two countries must sign an agreement to regulate it, Baghdad's government spokesman said.

Turkey's restriction of water flows along rivers through to Iraq is "unacceptable" and the two countries must sign an agreement to regulate it, Baghdad's government spokesman said on Tuesday.

"We will use all of our diplomatic ties with Turkey to guarantee Iraq's water share," Ali al-Dabbagh told a news conference in Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone. "Minimizing Iraq's water share is unacceptable and, until now, we have not signed an agreement on economic collaboration with Turkey. Parliament will not approve a strategic cooperation council with Turkey until Turkey agrees to sign an agreement with Iraq about water."

Dabbagh did not say how much water was currently flowing through to Iraq, or what would constitute an acceptable level. Baghdad and Ankara have had frequent disagreements in recent years over water flows along the Euphrates and Tigris from Turkey downriver to Iraq, though they have made temporary agreements to regulate it.

Iraq and neighboring Syria have often complained that Turkey monopolizes the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris through a series of dams built on both rivers as part of a massive project to irrigate its southeastern corner. Turkey argues that the dams allow for better management, ensuring a constant flow of water downstream unaffected by seasonal changes.

A report for the Swiss and Swedish governments released in February warned that water shortages in the Middle East were so alarming that opposing camps in the region would have little choice but to cooperate.

In a March report, UNICEF cited the possibility that the Tigris and the Euphrates could be completely dry in 2040 due to climate change, the intensive use of water and reduced water flow.

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