Facing a water scarcity, Iraq may become a land without rivers in 2040, according to “Water Stress Index” forecast.
Currently, an Iraqi delegation headed by Minister of Water Resources Mahdi Rashid Al-Hamdani is visiting Turkey to discuss water quotas and its division between Iraq and Turkey.
Last May, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the level of the Euphrates River, which is classified by international law as an international river that crosses several countries, decreased by five meters for the first time in history due to the river’s water blockage from the Turkish side.
Abdul Rahman al-Mashhadani, professor of economics at the Iraqi University, says that the group of dams established by Turkey, including the Ilisu Dam, has led to the impounding of water from Iraq as a result of diverting it to fill reservoirs.
The Ilisu Dam, which reached its full capacity in December 2020, is suffering from drought.
The Euphrates and Tigris rivers are the lifeblood of Iraq. Turkish projects led to a decline in Iraq’s share of the two rivers.
Al-Mashhadani links the impact of Turkish dams on Iraq’s share of the crisis of the Renaissance Dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, which may undermine the Egyptian share of the Nile’s water, telling Al-Hurra: “It is the exact same problem.”
Egypt, with a population of 100 million, estimates its share of the Nile water at 55 billion cubic meters. In contrast, the total consumption rate for all needs in Iraq, with a population of 40 million, is about 53 billion cubic meters annually.
Mashhadani attributes this difference to Iraq’s use of “backward irrigation methods in almost all of its regions, which causes a great waste of water, as well as not benefiting from the water entering the Arabian Sea.”
In 2018, 80 percent of Iraq’s water went to the agricultural sector, which provides job opportunities for more than a third of the country’s population.
Iraq’s severe water shortage threatens to heighten security concerns by impoverishing rural communities, increasing population growth in urban slums, and providing a fertile ground for recruitment into militant organizations.