Conflict over Water Looms in Southern Iraq
Further problems and conflicts are looming as Iraq’s deteriorating water crisis imperils the relationship between the Ministry of Water Resources in the federal government in Baghdad and the central and southern provinces of Iraq, or within those provinces themselves.
In the wake of severe drought, scarcity of existing water resources, loss of thousands of hectares and agricultural areas, as well as a lack of drinking water in some areas, a “water war” might erupt between the provinces.
The southern provinces accuse the Ministry of Water Resources of not providing them with their full share of water releases, and consequently affecting the water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The ministry denies these accusations, and points to the lack of water resources, as well as abuses that occur on water quotas by some provinces.
Adel al-Dukhaili, deputy governor of Dhi Qar, a southern province, said on Monday that the Ministry of Water Resources was responsible for the great drought that hit the Euphrates River, threatening neighboring provinces that abuses of the water share would not be tolerated.
“The Ministry has not committed to increasing the share of the province of Dhi Qar from the water releases, and it bears responsibility for the Euphrates drought after the water levels dropped to a frightening extent,” he said in a statement.
“The local government is fed up with promises that were mere ink on paper, despite continued contacts and follow-up with ministry officials,” he added.
In response, the adviser to the minister of water resources, Zafer Hussein Abdullah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the abuses of water quotas planned in the provinces have caused the decline of water levels in the Euphrates River in Dhi Qar.
“The solution to the abuses lies in the application of the law. We, as a ministry, have no recourse but to file legal proceedings against the offenders and the issue will be in the hands of the judiciary,” he noted.