Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kurdistan Region may face water challenge in future

Thursday, 17 September 2009, 02:49 EDT

Iraqi men look out over the Euphrates River in Hindiya, May 2009. AFP/File/Mohammed Sawaf

Region's water supply at mercy of others

Some believe it's time for the Region to take control of its own water supplies and build reservoirs within the country. 

Experts predict the Middle East will face a water challenge in the future. Arabic countries, especially Iraq, are especially in danger of water shortages. 

University professor Dr. Khalil Ismail believes that if Turkey continues to practice the negative water policy toward Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran may practice the same policy toward Kurdistan Region, risking the region's water situation. 

Turkish and Syrian governments have built dams across the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, creating problems for Iraq's water security--lack of water is a problem for the middle and southern parts of Iraq. 

"The water security of Kurdistan Region is at risk, because the water sources of Kurdistan Region originate from Iran. For that reason, the Iranian government can use the water situation for its political purposes," said Ismail. 

Ismail said the Islamic Republic of Iran used Alwan water-in Khanaqin district-for its own interests during the 1960s, and it badly influenced the lives of people in Khanaqin and surrounding districts. 

The Iranian government stopped water flowing from Alwan River with dams, and the river dried up. After an Iraqi Parliament delegation's visit to Iran, the Iranian government allowed the water to flow to Alwan for only 20 days. The water again was stopped by Iran after this period. 

"The relative sides should think about this issue and find a suitable resolution. From now on, there should be plans to build reservoirs and dams to store water inside the region," Ismail noted. 

Ismail believes that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) can use water for political purposes. 

The Iraqi water security is under the power of Kurds. Kurds can use it whenever necessary. In the past, the Iraqi government didn't construct Darbandikhan and Dukan dams and Hamrin reservoir for the sake of Kurds, Ismail added. "The Iraqi government was afraid Kurds would take power in the region some day-like today-and use these water resources for political purposes toward middle and southern parts of Iraq." 

Meanwhile, due to Turkey's policy to stop the flow of water to the Euphrates and Tigris rivers as much as necessary in the past, Iraq is subjected to economic disadvantages. The committees of agriculture, water, and lakes in the Iraqi Council of Representatives asked Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki to recruit a higher committee in order to monitor the water situation in Iraq. 

Furthermore, hundreds of people in Khanaqin town protested against Iran's construction of dams across Alwan River on the Iranian side. The people are suffering from water shortages of drinking water and their farms have dried up.