Water Crisis Fuels Tensions Between Turkey and Its Arab Neighbors

TEHRAN (Noyan Tapan)–According to the Iraqi press–a deputy of the Iraqi Water Irrigation Ministry has expressed concern over the Turkish government’s reluctance to engage in negotiations with Iraq and Syria on the issue of proper distribution of the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

The minister has also called upon the Turkish authorities to realize the danger tied to such a position and warned Turkey not to pursue political interests at the expense of its neighbors.

Voice of Iran radio reports that the water issue has become an obstacle in Turkey’s relations with its neighbors. A series of dams have been built by the Turks on the two rivers over the past two decades. According to international law–both Syria and Iraq have the right to use the rivers’ waters. However–the construction of dams reduces the amount of water that flows to these counties.

According to a 1987 agreement between Syria and Turkey–Syria is entitled to 500 cubic meters of water per minute from the Euphrates. Nevertheless–the Syrians have only been receiving 160 cubic meters per minute these last few years. Turkey is being accused of using its dams to reduce the flow of water to its neighbors as a means of applying pressure in the region. Voice of Iran radio claims Turkey intends to become the center for water trade in the region in the near future.

Turkey’s ties with Israel–especially Turkish-Israeli cooperation in the sale of water–has increased tension between Turkey and its Arab neighbors – Syria and Iraq.

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