Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The sensitive question of water usage on the Euphrates and Tigris dominates discussion between FM Davutoğlu and Iraqi Shiite spiritual leader Ali al-Sistani, with the latter regarding Ankara’s position with suspicion.
A report by the Turkish Newpaper ” Hürriyet Daily News” reviewed by All Iraq News Agency cited “Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu visits the Imam Ali Holy Shrine in Najaf after his talks with powerful Iraqi Shiite leaders al-Sistani and al-Sadr.”
“Turkey and Iraq should apply for U.N. arbitration to resolve a long-standing water problem, according to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a spiritual leader for Shiites in Iraq and the wider region, as well as a major political force,” the report added.
“Al-Sistani complained about Turkey’s cutting of the flow of water into Iraq and Turkey’s construction of dams on these rivers,” according to the report.
“Al-Sistani said Iraqis were suffering from water shortages and that the issue should be resolved through bilateral mechanisms and, if subsequently necessary, through U.N. arbitration,” the report went on.
“Davutoğlu explained Turkey’s position with regard to water allowance to neighboring countries, but al-Sistani was unconvinced, according to the source. Davutoğlu earlier said he would not discuss political issues with al-Sistani but most of their conversation reportedly focused on political issues. The two men also discussed ways to avoid a sectarian clash between Sunnis and Shiites in the Middle East,” the report assured.
“In his statement after the meeting with al-Sistani, Davutoğlu expressed his happiness for being in Najaf, one of the Shiite holy towns, during the sacred month of Muharrem,” the report involved.
“Discussions about Turkey’s alleged support for radical groups in Syria were not raised in talks with either Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or his Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Davutoğlu said, dismissing claims to the contrary,” the report mentioned.
“According to Davutoğlu, the difference of views between Ankara and Baghdad over the Syria crisis is not major, noting that the two capitals would continue dialogue,” the report concluded.