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Iraq moves to sue Iran over water access

Baghdad's water ministry has completed its application to take Tehran to the International Court of Justice over drop in the Tigris and Euphrates river levels

December 7, 2021 at 1:04 pm

Iraq’s water ministry has completed procedures to sue Iran at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over Tehran’s water policy, which it is argued has reduced the flow of water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers creating shortages for Iraq.

“The Ministry of Water Resources has submitted a letter to the foreign ministry and the cabinet, and completed all technical and legal procedures for the lawsuit,” Iraqi Minister of Water Resources Mahdi Rashid Al-Hamdani told Al-Hurra TV.

“The decision to take matters further is now up to the foreign ministry and the Iraqi government,” he added.

Although the two rivers make up the vast majority of Iraq’s surface water supply, they both originate outside the country and are vulnerable to the upstream dam projects in Syria, Turkey and Iran. Rising temperatures have also led to an increase in evaporation and research has shown that the country is now about 40 per cent desert.

READ: Bleak future awaits MENA if climate change effects not tackled

Baghdad has accused Tehran of cutting off water that feeds into the rivers that flow into the Tigris and increasing its dam construction which has threatened Iraq’s agricultural sector and water security. Over the past 30 years, Iran has built around 600 dams.

Last week, the water ministry warned that Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates could dry up by 2040 due to falling water levels and climate change.

However, Iran is facing its own water shortages, with the some 97 per cent of the country experiencing some level of drought, according to the country’s Meteorological Organisation. Late last month, the protests erupted in the central city of Isfahan over the dried up riverbed of the Zyandeh Rud River with calls for the government to revive the river. Farmers, who are the worst affected by the mismanagement, accuse the government of redirecting the water to other cities and industrial complexes.

READ: Syria reservoir dries up, increasing concerns over climate change in region