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Iraqi PM Accuses Turkey of Exploiting Ilisu Dam for Political Purposes

Iraqi PM Accuses Turkey of Exploiting Ilisu Dam for Political Purposes

Wednesday, 6 June, 2018 - 06:00
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. (Reuters)
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi accused on Tuesday the Turkish government of exploiting the Ilisu dam for political purposes, slamming the timing it chose to fill up the dam.

He explained that Ankara deliberately chose the timing to exploit the issue for “political and electoral purposes.”

Turkey is set to hold snap elections on June 24.

An agreement had been reached between Iraq and Turkey for Ankara to start filling the dam on June 1, but it kicked off operation back on March 1, drawing Baghdad’s anger.

Iraq is currently suffering from a stifling drought and the Ilisu dam on the Tigris River has only compounded the problem.

Addressing criticism that successive Iraqi governments had failed since 2003 to construct dams in the country, Abadi remarked: “We do not need to build dams, because the ones we already have have not been filled to capacity.”

“Once we have a surplus, then we will build new dams.”

Iraq’s water resources minister Hassan al-Janabi informed Asharq Al-Awsat, however, that the “crisis, despite its severity, was still under control because the minimum amount of potable and irrigation water was being provided.”

Concerns have been voiced over next year’s crops.

Abadi stressed that contacts are ongoing with Turkey and Iran over the water shortage and the Tigris issue.

He assured the people that Iraq has sufficient water reserves.

Meanwhile, head of the Sadr movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, made a number of proposals aimed at resolving the water crisis.

Among them was a call for the Foreign Ministry or concerned ministries to convene a meeting for the Iraq basin countries to address the crisis.

Another, he said via his Twitter account, was having the concerned Iraqi ministries form a permanent committee that would be tasked with finding the causes and reaching solutions for water safety problems.

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