Iraq runs out of water and begins imports from neighboring nations

The biggest problem is in the south, in Basra. Tanker truck ready to head into town to supply the population. Emergency sparked by Turkish dams and other energy projects on the Tigris and Euphrates. Minister for Water Resources: the problem concerns "all regions of Iraq".

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In order to make up for the chronic water shortage in the face of growing needs for the population, Iraq could soon start importing "blue gold" from other Middle Eastern countries. According to experts from the Ministry of Transport and Baghdad, the biggest emergency is in the south of the country.

At the behest of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a series of tanker trucks will head to Basra, a metropolis in the south, over the next few days to ensure supplies of drinking water to a population increasingly forced into emergency. The last ones will be distributed in some points of the city; this first supply will be followed by the arrival of tankers coming from different ports of the region, which will have to fill the water reserves today at historic lows.

Some specialized agencies under the ministerial control will guarantee, drinking water to the residential areas.

Iraq has recently seen a dramatic drop in the levels of the Tigris River in Mosul and Baghdad, triggering an alarm for an imminent threat of drought. In February, the Iraqi government launched an appeal to neighboring nations, asking them to release part of the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to compensate for "water scarcity". One of the primary causes of the problem are Turkish projects in the energy sector, which require large quantities of water.

Hamid al-Nayef, spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture, confirms the official request made by Iraq to Damascus and Ankara to release part of their water reserves. The two countries, adds the spokesman, "did not respect the commitments and mechanisms" signed on the topic of sharing water resources. This, he concludes, has happened "for many reasons, including the construction of dams".

In addition to energy projects, there is also a substantial decrease in rainfall at the base of the crisis. So far, the government has managed to supply water "for only 75% of the land used for cultivation". "All the regions of Iraq - adds the Minister for Water Resources Hassan al-Janabi - must face the danger of a lack of water".

The water supply is a long-standing problem affecting several countries in the region. Last week Iran and Israel also clashed over access to water, with the government of the Islamic Republic accusing the Jewish state of blocking the rains. "Climate change in Iran is suspect," Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali said, hypothesizing "foreign interference" [read Israel] that is "blocking" rainwater.