Iran-Turkey water policy leaves Iraq dry

Iran-Turkey water policy leaves Iraq dry
Iraq’s southern provinces have been suffering a serious shortage of water.
Updated 12 January 2018

Iran-Turkey water policy leaves Iraq dry

Iran-Turkey water policy leaves Iraq dry

BAGHDAD: Iraq has been negotiating with Turkey and Iran to minimize the effects of the two countries’ water policies on its territories, Iraqi Deputy Minister of Water Resources Mahdi Rasheed told Arab News on Wednesday.
Rasheed said that the talks were aimed at finding common solutions to an expected water crisis in the summer.
Iraq mainly relies on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and rainwater to provide its fresh water needs. Both rivers originate from outside Iraq, and Turkey, Iran and Syria have controlled the release of water into Iraq for decades.
A decline in rainfall during the past two months, increasing rates of evaporation caused by high temperatures and a lack of water imports from Turkey and Iran, mean Iraq’s southern provinces have been suffering a serious shortage of water.
The crisis is expected to worsen after the completion of the Alesso dam and Turkey’s announcement of its intention to fill the dam’s reservoirs in March.
Iraq last week filed a formal request to Turkey to postpone the filling of the Alesso dam from March to June to help Iraq “overcome the period of water scarcity.”
“The water shortage crisis still exists. If Turkey insists on filling the reservoirs of the (Allesso) dam in March, we will certainly be hurt,” Rasheed said. “We will have to rely on our water reservoirs to secure the demands of agriculture and drinking water. As a ministry we are thinking about the future; it is not logical to empty our (water) reservoir.”
Iraq is seeking to benefit from the season of melting of snow, which begins in March, to replenish its water reservoirs. Iraqi officials involved in the talks with Turkey have presented an alternative plan for the Turkish side to fill the reservoirs without depriving Iraq of water during March to June.
According to the suggested Iraqi plan, the filling period of the Turkish dam would last for a maximum of four years and minimum of seven months, depending on rainfall.
“The Turkish side understands our problem,” said Rasheed, who heads the Iraqi delegation negotiating with the Kurdish side on the joint water issues.
“We recognize their right to fill the dam but we have a problem. We agree that the dam will help us to control the water release and organize water policy, but the problem is their (the Turkish) plan to fill it (the dam),” he said.
“We are still waiting for their response to our request and we expect that they will answer us next week.”
Rasheed said that Iraq is facing similar problems with Iran, which has cut the water imports of the Tigris river from 40 percent to 15 percent due to the projects and dams that Iran has established on the river during the past years.
The almost-completed Daryan dam, which Iran is building on the Tigris river, 28 km away from the Iraqi-Iranian border, and the 47 km-long tunnel it has dug near it to divert the river into Iran, is the biggest concern for Iraqi officials.
“Iran is trying to divert the course of the (Tigris) river. In this case even the (amount) that we receive now will be cut and will not reach us,” Rasheed said.


Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity
Updated 16 January 2021

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity
  • First elections in 15 years “will usher in badly needed democracy”
  • The PA will hold legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31

AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s announcement of the first parliamentary and presidential elections in 15 years has raised hopes of an end to longstanding divisions, but skeptics doubt it will bring about serious change.
According to decrees issued by the presidential office on Friday, the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, will hold legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31.
Hanna Naser, head of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, told a packed press conference a day earlier that the decrees will usher in a badly needed democratic process.
Naser said the elections will be transparent and will deliver a functioning legislative council, adding: “After 15 years without a legislative body, it is important to have accountability through a council elected by the people.”
Jibril Rajoub, secretary of the Fatah movement and a key force behind the election deal, said on Palestine TV that the decrees are a major breakthrough and reflect a Palestinian commitment to democratic principles.
Rajoub said that the elections commission will be responsible for all aspects of the poll, and that a meeting of all Palestinian factions next week in Cairo will help resolve any remaining issues.
Hussein Sheikh, minister of civil affairs and member of the Fatah Central Committee, tweeted that the presidential decrees are “an important step to strengthen democracy and partnership in a unified political regime that ensures the end of the split and will create a unified vision for a cooperative effort aimed at ending the occupation and accomplishing freedom and liberty for our people.”
Hamas welcomed the decrees, which include a commitment by all participants that the PLO represents Palestinians, and is responsible for foreign affairs and negotiations.
The decrees stipulate elections for a 132-member legislative council that will include Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza on a full proportional basis.
Presidential elections will follow in July and the Palestine National Council will hold elections wherever possible for candidates in different locations. All lists must have a woman as the third and fourth candidates on the list, with at least 26 percent of the next council to be female.
However, Ghassan Khatib, a lecturer at Bir Zeit University and a former minister, told Arab News that while he strongly supports the elections, he is worried about the quality of the poll.
“I am concerned that the elections will reflect the wishes of the political elite since the lists will be national and will be made up by political leaders who might not give enough attention to local communities and their needs,” he said.
Khatib, who founded the Jerusalem Center for Communication Studies, said that polls show Fatah could win the coming elections if it can present a unified list.
Hani Masri, director of the Masarat think tank, said that holding elections before national reconciliation is complete is a “formula for trouble.”
“Issuing presidential decrees for elections before reconciliation is doing things in reverse order,” he said. “To have elections, the land mines must be removed. If we don’t address some of these problems, we are inviting trouble,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
One suggestion to overcome this issue has been that the two main parties, Fatah and Hamas, agree on a joint list and a single nominee for president.
Marwan Muasher, vice president of Carnegie Endowment for International Studies, told Arab News that national unity is a necessary first step.
“National elections serve to renew Palestinian legitimacy, which has been significantly affected,” he said.
Palestinians are also unsure if Israel will allow East Jerusalem residents to take part in the elections. Under the Oslo accords, Jerusalem residents can vote at local post offices.