At a meeting between Turkish and Iraqi authorities on May 15, Ankara and Baghdad agreed to keep the natural water flow from the River Tigris into Iraq from June 1 to Nov. 1. The delegations from both countries agreed to meet again on Nov. 2 to discuss the issue.
Turkey's envoy to Baghdad Fatih Yıldız previously dismissed media reports that the Ilısu dam in the southeastern province of Mardin could cut water supply to Iraq, saying that the dam was built for power generation rather than irrigation.
Yıldız said that since power is generated from the dam, water will be regularly supplied to Iraq. Iraq's Minister of Water Resources also said Turkey has postponed filling an upstream reservoir on the Tigris River to July 1. During a press conference yesterday, Hassan al-Janabi says meetings will continue between the two countries on how to ensure enough water flows to Iraq during and after the filling of the reservoir behind the Ilısu dam.
Water levels of the Tigris have decreased significantly since June 1, spreading panic among Iraqis who in some places were able to cross the riverbed on foot. Dams built in neighboring Iran on its tributaries to the Tigris have also contributed to low water levels.
On Wednesday, Yıldız met Iraq's Minister of Water Resources Hassan al-Janabi and discussed ways to prevent misinformation to the Iraqi public about the filling of Ilısu dam. He said that the two sides will cooperate in order for Turkey to undertake projects to deliver fast results regarding water management and irrigation in Iraq.
Yıldız told reporters in Baghdad that it will take about a year to fill the reservoir behind Turkey's Ilısu dam, dismissing claims that it would take longer. Al-Janabi told Al-Sumaria TV on Sunday that Iraq and Turkey had reached a "fair" agreement whereby Turkey will release 75 percent of the river's volume while keeping the rest to fill the dam.