Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Shiite leader asks Turkey to give Iraq more water

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 11.11.2013
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.

Al-Sistani made the suggestion yesterday at a meeting with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as part of the Turkish minister’s two-day trip to Iraq. 

“Al-Sistani complained about Turkey’s cutting of the flow of water into Iraq and Turkey’s construction of dams on these rivers,” a source familiar with the talks told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The rivers in question, the Euphrates and Tigris, both begin in Turkey and pass through Syria and Iraq before emptying into the Persian Gulf in Basra. 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.

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.

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