Iraqi PM: Turkey using disputed dam for political purposes

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addresses the media in Ankara December 25, 2014. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY – Tags: POLITICS) – RTR4J8X5

Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the Turkish government was using a dam project disputed by the Iraqi side for political purposes, saying the project only affects irrigation water supplies.

Speaking during his weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Abadi said “the Turkish government intentionally filled the dam’s basin in this timing, and we had asked them not to”.

According to Abadi, “the whole issue is political and electoral, and Turkey is trying to use it to win the votes of its farmers”, in a possible reference to the early parliamentary and presidential elections Turkey has slated for 24th of this month.

He followed that his country is not facing a threat to drinking water supplies, and that the effect is rather in the water used for irrigation.

“The Iraqi government is in contacts with the Turkish and Iranian sides on the issue of water discharges, Abadi stated.

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish ambassador in Baghdad, Fatih Yildiz, said in a press conference “we had informed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during his visit to Turkey in 2017 that we had completed the construction of the (Ilisu) dam and were preparing to fill it,” adding that “we listened to fears voiced relating to the filling of the dam from the Iraqi side, and did postpone it, which cost us a lot”.

Iraq has detected a drop in water levels at the Tigris River in Baghdad and Mosul, which aroused fears of drought resulting from the Turkish project.

Iraqi water resources minister said in statements two days ago that Turkey violated understandings with Iraq by starting to fill the dam last March.


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