Iraq’s Water Resources Minister Hassan al-Janabi acknowledged the severity of a water crisis his country is enduring ahead of Turkey’s intention to start operation of its Ilsu dam on the Tigris River inside Turkish territory.
Speaker Salim Jabouri called parliament to hold an extraordinary session on Sunday to tackle the crisis.
Janabi told Asharq Al-Awsat that he had warned of the impending water crisis back in October and the government had formed a committee to tackle the repercussions of the shortage.
Twenty-four measures have been devised to address the issue and they are being implemented by the concerned ministries, he added.
“The drought is severe, however, and it should not be underestimated, but it is under control,” Janabi assured.
The minister revealed that potable water and 50 percent of irrigation water has been provided.
“The current situation should not be underestimated, but it should also not be viewed as impossible to solve,” he stressed.
“A similar, if not worse, crisis erupted in the 1990s” and it was addressed by eliminating summer crops, he explained.
Janabi said that the real effect of the Ilsu dam will be felt once it begins operation.
“I will however travel to each of Turkey and Iran to discuss this issue,” he added.
Iraqi foreign relations parliamentary committee member Ahmed al-Jabouri told Asharq Al-Awsat that the water shortage in the Euphrates and Tigris rivers is the “most dangerous historic problem that Iraq is confronting” due to the dams Turkey is constructing.
He warned that the crisis could become a precursor to a future war for water, demanding that the Iraqi government take regional and international action to deter Turkey from going ahead with its projects.
Turkey confirmed on Saturday that the last phase of Ilısu dam has been completed.