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Iran blocking drinking water to 80,000 Kurds.

Iraqi Kurdistan has reduced the flow of water to the Arab part of Iraq by almost three-quarters in response to a dam built by Iran on the Little Zab River that has left about 80,000 people in Iraqi Kurdistan without drinking water, a Kurdish minister said Sunday.

Abdulstar Majeed, Kurdistan's minister for agriculture and water resources, said it was a decision "forced" on him, as the Kurdish Region has to provide drinking water for its own citizens.

He said the decision affects the amount of water that is being stored in the Kurdistan Region in the reservoirs behind the Dukan and Darbandikhan dams.

"We are forced to keep more water because we need it [mainly] for drinking water.... That is why we are forced to send less water," to the rest of Iraq, Majeed said.

The day after Majeed spoke out, President Rohani told a gathering in Tehran that construction of dams in neighboring countries--a clear reference to Turkey--was "dangerous" for the region and many projects should be stopped. He said nothing about the Little Zab dam and its impact on Kurds.

The amount of water sent from the Kurdistan Region to the rest of Iraq has now been reduced from 180 cubic meters per second to just over 50 cubic meters per second, the minister said. He emphasized that the decision was "not political."

He said he does not want any citizens, Arabs or Kurds, to suffer from a decision by Iran to reduce the water flowing into Iraq. He maintained though that, as a Kurdish minister in Kurdistan, he has to place the interests of citizens in Kurdistan first and foremost.

Iran has recently constructed a dam on the Little Zab River near Sardasht in Iran's West Azerbaijan province. This initially resulted in an 80 percent reduction of water flow across the border in Iraq. The river feeds Dukan Lake.

The minister said the flow of water to the Kurdistan Region from Sardasht has now been "completely" shut off.

He said the water cut by Iran lacks "human, Islamic or neighborly" values. He added that Iraq has to step up and get involved, as the issue of water is a "sovereignty issue."

The minister had previously told Rudaw, the Kurdish news service, that the Kurdistan Region had 17 small and medium sized dams under construction to collect water for irrigation and drinking. The region will have nearly twice as much irrigation and drinking water once the construction of the dams is complete, Majeed told Rudaw. Nearly 80 percent of the projects have been completed, he said.

Rudaw said this is not the first time Iran has built dams that have affected the flow of water into the Kurdistan Region.

Garan Dam near the city of Marivan has significantly impacted Late Daxbandikhan.

Caption: WATER, WATER--This French map shows the flow of the Little Zab River, which starts in Iran.

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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jul 7, 2017
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