Iraq Warns Turkey it Will Sue Over Water Schemes

BAGHDAD (Reuters)–Iraq said in remarks published on Thursday that it would sue Turkey if Ankara went ahead with its plans to build dams that would affect the water flow to Iraq and Syria.

"Iraq will sue Turkey if it insists on pursuing its present water policy which inflicts great damage on Iraq and Syria," the Al-Zawra weekly quoted Minister of Irrigation Mohamoud Diyab al-Ahmad as saying.

"Iraq is poised to face big and serious problem if Turkey continues implementing irrigation projects," the minister added.

Iraq and Syria have repeatedly accused Turkey of threatening the flow of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers by building dams in violation of the rights of countries downstream.

The Tigris originates in Turkey before flowing into Iraq. The Euphrates starts in Turkey and winds through Syria before entering Iraq.

Syria and Iraq depend on the river waters for drinking–irrigation and electricity generation and say the flow from Turkey is already not enough.

Al-Ahmad said a Syrian delegation would be visiting Iraq next month to discuss "the Euphrates crisis."

In 1996 Turkey announced a plan for its fourth dam on the Euphrates to produce power and irrigate a large part of southeastern Turkey.

Syria–Iraq and Turkey have held several meetings in the past but failed to reach an agreement on water-sharing.

Al-Ahmad also said the ministry had embarked on building a new dam on the Tigris in Badoush region of Nineveh province.

"Iraq will import irrigation pumps and other heavy equipment from China–France and Russia at a cost of $53 million. These pumps are to arrive the country very soon," he said.

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