Turkey to up Euphrates flow to Iraq

Turkey has agreed to up the flow of water along the Euphrates river to Iraq for a month, Baghdad said on Saturday, amid tensions between the two sides over distribution of the precious commodity.

The agreement came after talks in Istanbul involving Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Turkish Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu, following a months-long war of words between Baghdad and Ankara.

“Turkey has agreed to give Iraq 450 to 500 cubic meters of water per second along the Euphrates until October 20,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

On Friday, however, Eroglu said between 500 and 550 m3/s would be released to Iraq. Dabbagh did not address the discrepancy in his statement.

At the end of June, Baghdad said Turkey had increased the Euphrates flow from 360 m3/s to 570 m3/s to help overcome a shortage and promised to raise that to 715 m3/s in July, August and September.

But last month, Iraq claimed the amount was cut back to around only 250 m3/s — around a quarter of the minimum requirement for irrigation.

One cubic metre is equivalent to 35.3 cubic feet.

Iraq and Syria have often complained that Turkey monopolises the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris through a series of dams built on both rivers as part of a massive project to irrigate its southeastern corner.

Turkey insists the dams allow for better management, ensuring a constant flow of water downstream in spite of seasonal changes.

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