Parliament Fails to Tackle Worst Drought Hitting Iraq
The Iraqi parliament failed on Sunday to convene an extraordinary session to tackle the country’s drought due to a lack of quorum.
There has been mounting popular and official anger over the drought, which was compounded by a shortage of water from the Tigris River after Turkey kicked off operation of its Ilisu dam.
Speaker Salim al-Jabouri had called for the extraordinary parliament session to address the crisis, but only 50 out of 328 lawmakers made it to the meeting.
Prior to the session, he had held talks with Turkish Ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz on means of cooperation between Baghdad and Ankara to tackle the issue in a way that would guarantee both their interests.
“The water crisis, the repercussions of which are beginning to clearly affect Iraq, demands an immediate intervention from all concerned government sides and international organizations in order to reach solutions that would guarantee the country’s share of water,” he said.
Water resources minister Dr. Hassan al-Janabi had said during the parliament session that the “real damage” that Iraq will incur from the Ilisu dam will be felt next year.
Turkey began filling the dam on March 1, sparking concern in Iraq over mounting water shortages.
Janabi added that Iraq has a reserve of 17 cubic meter of water, which will be used for the summer’s agricultural season.
Iraq is working on reaching an agreement with Turkey to help provide it with its necessary water share, he continued.
The Tigris River does not flow from Iraq and therefore it has no choice but to hold dialogue and negotiations with Turkey to resolve the crisis, added the minister.
The Tigris river flows from both Turkey and Iran.
Janabi said that agreements had been reached between Iraq and Turkey to delay its filling of dams until after holding consultations with Baghdad. Ankara, however, failed to respect the deal and started filling the dams back in March.
The original agreement stipulated that Turkey fill Ilisu dam starting June 1 and until November.
The minister had revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that he will travel to Turkey and Iran to address the water file.
Shorouk al-Abaji, of the parliament’s water and agriculture committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the government, namely the prime minister, must immediately take action to establish a water authority that could address the drought.