Iraqi boys walk along the Euphrates River
New water cooperation could be a new beginning for tensions between Turkey and Iraq: Turkey has promised to give neighboring Iraq and Syria a larger share of water from both Tigress and Euphrates rivers; it was announced by Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Gul, on a state visit to Iraq, the first in 33 years by a Turkish head of state, said that his country will divert more water from these mighty rivers, both of which originate in Turkey.
Turkey undertook a massive project a few years back which included a series of dams on both rivers, to bring more water to its Anatolia region which was then affected by drought.This created several large reservoirs which seriously reduced to flow of the Tigress into Iraq and the Euphrates into Syria, both of which suffered from severe water shortages for both agriculture and human consumption.
Gul told his Iraqi hosts that due to plentiful rainfall in his country, Turkey can double the amount of water that is allowed to flow into both Syria and Iraq. He explained that the cut back of water had been due to the drought in the previous year, and that now there was a good supply of water in both river systems.
Even in times of drought, Turkey has been blessed with a large amount of annual precipitation which neither Syria nor Iraq enjoy.
The fact that one country can exert virtual control over the water flowing from these two rivers is something that is on concern to other countries which depend so much on these two rivers for much of their water supplies.
Both rivers are frequently mentioned in the Bible and have been the life blood of the entire region since time began.
Iraq is more than 70% desert and has virtually no other water supply source, other than infrequent annual rainfall. Legend has it that these two rivers, along with two others. Pishon and Gihon, nourished the biblical Garden of Eden.
Gul’s visit, as well as his much heralded announcement, could do much to improve ties with Iraq, whose northern border with Turkey ha soften been the scene of military operations by the Turkish military in their attacks on areas said to be under the control of Kurkish rebels; with whom Turkey has been in conflict with for decades.
By increasing the water flow into Iraq, both countries could see a new beginning in their relations with each other. One of Baghdad’s prominent newspapers, Al-Sabah, commented that “Turkey must be fair with Iraq and deal seriously with the water supplies as Iraq is most effected by the sharing out of the water from the Tigress and Euphrates rivers”.
More on Iraq and Turkey:
Rainless Winters In Iraq Cause Strife In Garden of Eden
Energy Talks Between the UK, Turkey and Israel
[image via jamesdale]