Creating new perspectives since 2009

Iran cuts water flow of ‘vital river’ into crisis-hit Iraq 

August 20, 2023 at 2:40 pm

View of the Little Zab River in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq on September 05, 2022 [Fariq Faraj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Iran has reportedly halted the flow of the Little Zap River into neighbouring Iraq, which is already reeling from drought and desertification, an Iraqi official said. 

According to Anadolu Agency, the move by Iran has caused periodic cuts in water levels of the vital Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. 

The report, citing Selam Omer, director of the Ranya District Water Department in the Sulaymaniyah province in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq said that the “unilateral act of Tehran to curtail water flow for extended periods, particularly during the summer months, without providing any justification or advance notice, plunged Iraq into an even more precarious situation.”

“Reports indicate that the water level at the Dukan Dam (the largest dam within Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government) receded by seven centimeters daily due to Iran’s water cessation,” Omer said. 

READ: Pollution in Iraq river Tigris threatens people’s health, safety

“We are grappling with a formidable crisis, particularly with respect to our drinking water supply. The cessation of water flow by Iran has immediate repercussions on Iraq’s Qaladze and Ranya towns, with ripple effects extending to adjacent regions,” he added.

The Little Zap River, which originates in Iran flows into Sulaymaniyah before making its way to Kirkuk and the heartland of Iraq, providing a lifeline for a significant population. The official said that some 100,000 people in the town of Qaladze, solely rely on the river’s water flow. 

Iraq which is undergoing severe water shortages attributed to various factors including upstream damming in Turkiye and Iran and climate change warned earlier this month that its water reserves are at the “lowest” in the country’s history, down by 50 per cent compared to the previous year.