Iraqi minister blames Iran for increasing salinity in Shatt Al-Arab waters amid water crisis woes

Iraqi minister blames Iran for increasing salinity in Shatt Al-Arab waters amid water crisis woes
Iraq has been experiencing an ongoing water crisis for years and has largely placed the blame on its neighbour Iran for aggravating its water conditions and supply.
2 min read
14 August, 2022
The Shatt Al-Arab river flows mostly through Iraq, as well parts of Iran and Kuwait [Getty]

An Iraqi minister has accused Iran of increasing the salinity of the Shatt Al-Arab waters in a scathing statement, according to Arabi21, amid a series of escalating water-related tensions between the two neighbours.

Minister of Water Resources Mahdi Rashid Al-Hamdani said high levels of salt found the tide of the river’s waters are a consequence of Iran allegedly cutting off all tributaries that flow into the body of water, which is mostly located in the Basra governorate, in the country’s south.

He made the statement following an inspection of ongoing work taking place during the first phase of the Basra pipeline project.

Al-Hamdani’s comments implied that this year’s tides are significantly higher than in previous years, and attributed the cutting of the water flow from Iran’s Karun river through its dam, to Iraq’s deteriorating water conditions, as well as an alarming decrease in its water levels.

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The minister further added that Iran built a dam without taking into account the interests of Iraq, subsequently diverting the course of the Karun River, as well as of other rivers and tributaries that flow into the Shatt al-Arab.

This adds further pressure on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for water releases, he said.

To counter the issues faced in the Shatt Al-Arab waters, Al-Hamdani told reporters: "We are releasing significant amounts of water to stop this local tide, and in the coming days, its results will be positively reflected," according to the Egyptian daily Youm7.

In September last year, Iraq said that it is planning to file lawsuit against Iran with the international community in conjunction with the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs over water cuts, according to Al-Monitor, as Baghdad said it was only receiving one tenth in water quantities from Tehran, as well as failures to reach a water agreement with its neighbour.

This lead to an escalated "water disaster" in Iraq’s Diyala province, where agriculture is a prominent source of livelihood.

Meanwhile, Iran had blamed its lack of water supply on climate change-induced droughts.