Researcher Shatha Khalil *
Translated by : mudhaffar al-kusairi
Turkey has begun to fill its huge reservoir , Iliu dam to generate electricity on the Tigris River, despite protests over the filling of the reservoir, which threatens the life of Iraqis with drought and death due to the acute water shortages at the mouth of the river in Iraq.
The water began to gather behind the Ilisu dam, a project that has been in operation for decades and aims to generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity for southeast Turkey, according to satellite images.
The dam will lead to a shortage of water going to Iraq , noting that Tigris and Euphrates get about 70% of its supply of water from neighboring countries, especially through the Tigris and Euphrates through Turkey.
And the Iraqi side, which is supposed to move quickly since 2006 when Turkey began to set up the project; but the Iraqi government and officials of the file of water management lacks the necessary measures and planning and alternative plans, in the face of the expected scarcity of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as the drought threatens large areas of southern Iraq, amid expectations that the crisis will intensify in the coming years, but the adopted policy is based on “wasting” the disaster by mutual accusations, blame the former regime, and neglect treatment on the principle of procrastination and drowning in the failed patching policies .
Turkey begins filling the reservoir of the Ilisu dam on the Tigris River and threatens life in Iraq.
Baghdad has a lot of pressure papers to get its right from its neighbors, with regard to water and in terms of deterring many abuses. But the foreign policy of the country, especially in the water file do not have the planning and tactics to manage the negotiation in the absence of specialists and experts, the government does not give this aspect any attention and do not think in the national interest of the country , they far from the political and economic wisdom in wealth management.
Drought of Tigris and its impact on Iraq
Global water indicators predict , the most important of which are the “Water Stress Index”, that Iraq will be a land without rivers by 2040, and that the two great rivers will not reach the final estuary at sea. After six years (2025) the features of severe drought will be very clear throughout Iraq with the total drought of the Euphrates River to the south, and the Tigris transformation into a small watercourse with limited resources. After the first part of Turkey’s measures, and a second part for Iran.
The environmental damage that will result from the shrinking of green land and natural pastures and the desertification phenomenon, researchers believe it will be reflected in the weather in Iraq, and sandstorms will be repeated throughout the year, and t Ilisu dam will turn half of Iraq to the desert.
Demographically, the dam will deprive large numbers of the population of drinking water and lead to contamination of the remaining drinking water, as it will pass through hydroelectric generators and add polluted water from the sewage systems of cities on the Tigris River. And the level of pollution and salinity in this water will rise to 1800 mg / liter, as in the Euphrates waters , which Turkey and Syria allow to pass to Iraq after being saturated with pollutants and salts from consumption, agriculture and industry in Syria, while the global rate of pollution does not exceed 800 mg / L.
The dam will change the way people live into unproductive patterns, agriculture and grazing deteriorate and livestock numbers decline.
The process of revitalization of the marshes will be affected due to the decline of Iraq’s imports in the Tigris and the Euphrates by 90% because of the Turkish dams and add to this serious Iranian projects and the rate of salinity and pollution ill be increased in the areas of the marshes.
The decline in water levels in the Tigris will lead to the interruption of work on power generation systems built along the Tigris River, especially in the dams of Mosul and Samarra. This will affect industrial activity and infrastructure such as water purification plants, oil refineries and hospitals.
Iraq lacks negotiators
According to specialists, negotiation is the art of managing the political and economic interests of the country first, and there are no principles and values, but balances of interest and profit and loss accounts where the greatest values and principles are melt before them and there not permanent allies and friends in politics, there is no place for emotions or humanity, in other words there is no mercy in politics.
In politics, alliances are built according to the strategies of their material goals. In other words, it is always an economic benefit for the policy maker or the one who manages it strategically, the goal is economic.
Relationships at the state level are governed by conflicts of interest; ambitions increased and intertwined relations, which require a long-established framework and authentic traditions to resolve conflicts and disputes. This can be done only by negotiating between countries to lay the foundation for relations, methods of mutual benefits and methods of easing tensions. These relations go beyond the fields of politics to the economic, legal, social, educational, and cultural fields, all of which are combined to manage any negotiation in order to solve a problem.
The relations between countries may be governed by interests. The relationship may be narrowed or widened depending on the position of the state and the internal and external pressures that limit it. The state of peace may be undermined or strengthened, friends become enemies, and vice versa, and the political negotiator remains the primary responsible for the country’s economic and political interest.
Turkey has been operating to build Ilisu dam since 2006, which means the destruction of what was remained from Tigris River that feeds Iraqi territory from north to south. This giant dam will take more than half of Iraq’s water quota, which is essentially not a full quota due to Turkey’s construction of a wide range of dams on the lakes and tributaries that form the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, as the Ilisu dam is one of the 22 dams created during the past years, and this dam is one of the largest, which will allow the flow of only 47% of the river water to Iraq previously, this matter has risks to all Agricultural, environmental , economic and political aspects of the country .
Experts confirm that this dam will deprive large numbers of the population of drinking water and pollute the remaining drinking water because it will pass in hydroelectric generators and add contaminated water out of the sewage systems of the cities on the Tigris River. The level of pollution and salinity in this water will increase to 1800 mg / L, as in the Euphrates waters, which Turkey and Syria allow to pass to Iraq, after being saturated with pollutants and salts from consumption, agriculture and industry in Syria, while the global rate of pollution does not exceed 800 mg / l.
Iraq has enough environmental contaminants that are not being treated at the moment. It is living in political chaos, economic and social crisis and environmental disaster.
The danger is there and the solutions are absent except the mercy of my Lord to revive Iraq in the last season with abundant rain. But political solutions are absent.
According to data released by the Center for Urban and Rural Planning in Iraq in June, the estimated losses of sectors affected by drought in two years exceeded 10 billion dollars, noting that waters reaches Iraq about 7 billion cubic meters from Tigris annually, while it was 20 Billion cubic meters in the past.
“Iran is partnering with Turkey to reduce the amount of water reaching Iraq by building dams and changing the course of the tributaries of the Tigris River,” Alaa Nasiri said , a natural resources expert.
Environmental activist Walid Hayani warned , “the dire consequences of thirst and drought, which will affect the regions of the south, the crisis may cause conflicts between local governments in the provinces, or tribal in terms of priority watering agriculture and livestock, which means that the problem will lead to two disasters , the first is environmental and the second linked to the security and stability of Iraq .
And that “most of the tribal conflicts in the southern provinces caused by water, and is a source of concern for the Iraqi government and security forces.”
He added that “more than 30 villages, belonging to the province of Dhi Qar (southeast), abandoned by the people because of thirst, in Maysan and northern Basra, livestock was exposed to death, and the new water crisis, will be greater than the ability of government. It was better for the government to diagnosis the deficit and weakness accurately and transfer the file to officials who are more confident and worthy to manage the interests of Iraq.
Despite the increase of the volume of trade exchange between Iraq and Turkey to 16 billion dollars, and their desire to fight PKK (terrorist) organization from Iraq. Iraqi officials must work, plan and realize the management of this file with great wisdom.
Iraqi pressure papers on Turkey
Iraq has golden pressure papers on Turkey but is not aware of its exploitation because of the weakness of its government and the distribution of sovereign decision to political speculators according to their interests . During the period of the Ba’ath rule (1968-2003), divided between Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr and Saddam Hussein, Baghdad threatened Ankara three times to intervene militarily against it if it reduced Iraq’s water quota from the Tigris and the Euphrates. In two of them, the threat was based on the principle of force.
Baghdad has much more bargaining power over the 1980s and 1990s, in the sense of the package of diplomatic relations it has, but it is worse in terms of exploiting this positive umbrella to defend its interests. Saddam Hussein did not have pressure papers on Ankara, but the idea of a military escalation in itself is a powerful pressure card that embarrasses the international community and leads to mediation, which means an informal “internationalization” that will lead Ankara to negotiate .Turkey refuses to internationalize the water problem, but is weaker than the Iraqi attempt if it is tested by Baghdad.
International law and international norms all stand with Iraq In the event of a complaint against Turkey or others regarding the abuses over its rivers, the United Nations laws states (that the riparian states, although they have sovereign rights to the portion passing or adjacent to their land, this sovereign right is restricted by the rights of other riparian countries (riparian on the river). This article, for example, contradicts the permanent slogan raised by the successive Turkish governments to justify the establishment of dozens of dams on the Tigris and Euphrates, claiming that they exercised their sovereign right on their land. In 1966, the General assembly approved the international la in its meeting in Helsinki the principle that denies the use of the waters of international rivers by one state unless there is agreement among the river basin states concerned in this regard , and the United Nations International Law Commission, in 1973, stated that “riparian States on the international river can use water according to its needs provided that such use does not cause harm to other States involved with it in this river.) Turning to the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on the Environment held in 1992 in the so-called Rio Declaration, they adopted the principles of bilateral agreements on rivers and international waterways and called for taking into account United Nations General Assembly resolution 49/52 of 9 December 1994.
In conclusion, Iraq has to adopt a courageous and dare strategy to defend Iraq as a nation and land , starting with peaceful options, raising the issue to international forums, filing a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice against Turkey and Iran, and using all peaceful and diplomatic endeavors .If Turkish and Iranian authorities continued their stubbornness and determination to destroy and desertification of Iraq , then it is imperative for Iraq to resort to the option of military self-defense and the threat of destruction of these deadly dams, which turned into mountains of reinforced concrete, holding behind the water traders and hydrometers of Tigris and Euphrates waters and most of their tributaries
And that Iraq has all the means to pressure Turkey to return its share of water flowing naturally since God created this planet, but it does not do.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies