Turkey to release water to ease Iraqi shortages

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A general view of the ancient town of Hasankeyf by the Tigris river, which will be significantly submerged by the Ilisu dam being constructed, in southeastern Turkey. (REUTERS/Sertac Kayar)
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People walk through a bridge over the Tigris river in the ancient town of Hasankeyf, which will be significantly submerged by the Ilisu dam being constructed, in southeastern Turkey. (REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo)
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The Tigris river flows through the ancient town of Hasankeyf, which will be significantly submerged by the Ilisu dam being constructed, in southeastern Turkey. (REUTERS/Sertac Kayar/File Photo)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Turkey to release water to ease Iraqi shortages

  • Turkey is holding back water on the Tigris River to fill a reservoir behind its Ilisu Dam
  • That has alarmed Iraq and caused shortages particularly in the southern province of Basra
IRBIL, Iraq: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to increase releases of water from a dam in southeastern Turkey to neighboring Iraq, which is struggling with a water crisis, the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament said on Wednesday.
Turkey is holding back water on the Tigris River to fill a reservoir behind its Ilisu Dam, a step that has alarmed Iraq and caused shortages particularly in the southern province of Basra.
Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi, who met Erdogan in Turkey on Tuesday, said the president had agreed to an Iraqi request for more supplies. This was “in order to guarantee water reaches all of Iraq’s provinces, especially Basra,” Al-Halbousi said in a statement.
Turkey temporarily stopped filling the reservoir in June but agreed with Iraq to resume doing so in July. Around 70 percent of Iraq’s water supplies flow from neighboring countries, especially in the Tigris and Euphrates, which run through Turkey.
Iraq’s water shortages have led it to take measures such as bans on rice planting, and driven farmers to leave their land. Basra province has seen months of street protests over the lack of clean drinking water.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is due in Baghdad on Thursday.
The recent water shortages have also been blamed on dams built on tributaries in neighboring Iran. The volume of the Tigris in Iraq has dropped by 8 billion cubic meters since last year.
A prolonged reduction of the river would not only affect Iraq’s supply of water, but also reduce the amount of electricity it gets from hydroelectric dams and cut into farming, forcing the country to import more food.
The shortages could also affect Iraq’s southern marshes, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.
Within the framework of the Joint Economic Commission protocol, Turkey and Iraq agreed to establish a joint committee for the negotiation of transboundary river basin of Tigris and Euphrates in 1980. This joint committee convened 16 times from 1982 to 1992 but the meetings halted due to the Gulf War, reported Daily Sabah.
From 1984 onward to 2009, Turkey, Syria and Iraq had negotiated the management of transboundary waters.
In 1984, Turkey proposed a three-stage plan for optimal, equitable and reasonable utilization of the transboundary waters of the Euphrates-Tigris Basin.
Yet, the plan was rejected by Syria and Iraq, who took a different approach to the basin area between the three countries. While Turkey considered the Euphrates-Tigris Basin as a whole system, the two others wanted to categorize it as two separate basins during the negotiations after the establishment of Joint Technical Committee (JTC) in 1983.
After several bilateral and trilateral meetings and provisional agreements, Turkey inked a memorandum of understanding with Iraq and Syria in 2009. The agreement stipulated the monitoring of water resources, joint projects and protocols and fighting climate change while continuing the flow of water 500 cubic meters per second to both Syria and Iraq.


Suspected militants kill 3 workers in Egypt’s Sinai

Updated 50 min 19 sec ago
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Suspected militants kill 3 workers in Egypt’s Sinai

  • Six militants have been killed in two separate raids by security forces targeting hideouts in northern Sinai
  • Egyptian security forces have for years been battling militants led by Daesh

EL-ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian security officials say three workers contracted to build a security wall in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish have been shot dead by suspected militants.
The officials say a fourth worker was wounded in the attack, which took place Saturday outside their homes.
The officials say six militants have been killed in two separate raids by security forces targeting hideouts in northern Sinai. The Saturday raids left two policemen wounded following shootouts.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Egyptian security forces have for years been battling militants, now led by Daesh, in northern Sinai. The insurgency picked up steam after the 2013 ouster of an elected but divisive Islamist president.