Kurdish govt threatens to cut Iraq’s water if Iran does same to Kurdistan


2July 2017 – HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Kurdistan’s agriculture minister has threatened to cut off water to central and southern Iraqi provinces if Iran continues to stem the flow of water into the Kurdistan Region’s border town of Qaladze.

“We have warned Iraqi high-ranking authorities that if Iran stems the flow of any two cubic meters water into the Kurdistan Region for whatever reason, we will in return stem a cubic meter water into southern Iraq in order to provide necessary water to the Kurdistan Region,” Abdulstar Majeed, minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Agriculture and Water Resources, has told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency.

Majeed explained that reduction of water flow into Qaladze town has “damaged more than 80,000 people of Qaladze town. It has also materially been detrimental to many projects including fish-raising projects, livestock, tourism, and many other projects. We do not know precisely the full level of the damage, but it’s very huge.”

Iran has recently constructed a dam on Zei Bchuk river in the Kurdish city of Sardasht to produce hydroelectric power. This resulted in an 80 percent reduction of water flow across the border into the Khas water project in Qaladze. The river also feeds Dukan Lake. Compared to last year, Dukan Lake’s water level has dropped by some 18 percent, according to figures from Hama Tahir Jalal, manager of Dukan Dam. The reduction is due to both reduced water flows from Iran and less rainfall. Majeed said that the waters of Dukan Lake benefit southern Iraqi provinces as well as the Kurdistan Region.

“Therefore stemming the flow of water into Zei Bchuk river is not only detrimental to the Region, but also the rest of Iraq,” he asserted.

Majeed lashed out at Baghdad accusing it of being “silent” against Tehran’s dam construction project. The Kurdish minister said that if Iran continues the stop of flow of water into Qaladze, “a delegation from the Region will visit Tehran.” “We know it is Iran’s right to benefit from its water as long as it does not damage the water of the neighboring country, as is enshrined in international laws.”

In his comments to Anadolu, Majeed stated that part of the reason motivating Iran to take this action against the Kurdistan Region is associated with the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum bid. The minister had previously told Rudaw that the Kurdistan Region has 17 small and medium sized dams to preserve water for irrigation and drinking, and that they will hopefully prevent any water shortages in the future. The Region will have nearly twice as much irrigation and drinking water once the construction of the dams is complete, Majeed told Rudaw.

Nearly 80 percent of the projects have been completed, the minister revealed. This is not the first time Iran has built other dams that have affected the flow of water into the Kurdistan Region. Garan Dam in the city of Mariwan has significantly impacted Lake Darbandikhan and storage facility in Sulaimani province.  The Kurdistan Region has several small rivers and the two major lakes of Dukan and Darbandikhan that produce most of the country’s electricity.