On Tuesday, March 21, 2023, the Iraqi Prime Minister will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in order to discuss the files of Turkish dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and the presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, according to a government source on Monday.
This will be the first visit of Muhammad Shia al-Sudani to Turkey since he assumed power in October 2022. According to an advisor to the Prime Minister who preferred to remain anonymous, there will be “an official reception and the Prime Minister will meet with President Erdogan.”
He added, “The most important files that the prime minister will discuss with the Turkish side is the water file and the PKK.”
Iraq suffers from an alarming decline in the levels of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which originate in Turkey. Baghdad repeatedly accuses Turkey and Iran of building dams that lower the level of water reaching Iraq from the two rivers.
According to official statistics, the level of the Tigris River in 2022 was only 35% of its average rate over the past 100 years.
The matter is exacerbated by the decline in rainfall to its absence during the last three years and the misuse of water.
Last summer, the Turkish ambassador to Iraq, Ali Reza Günay, responded to the Iraqi accusations in a tweet in which he wrote that “drought is not only Iraq’s problem, but Turkey’s and our entire region’s problem,” adding that “as a result of global warming, there will be more droughts in the coming years.”
And he considered that “water is wasted greatly in Iraq, and immediate measures must be taken to reduce this waste,” noting that “irrigation systems must be modernized.”
It is scheduled, according to the government source, that the Iraqi prime minister will also raise the file of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has bases in northern Iraq.
In that region, Turkey repeatedly launches ground operations and raids against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara and its Western allies classify as “terrorist”.
For 25 years, Ankara has also owned dozens of military bases in northern Iraq.
In July 2022, nine civilians were killed by bombing in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Baghdad held Ankara responsible, while Turkey denied its involvement in the matter.