Trade imbalance also cited

Iraq MP calls for trade freeze with Turkey over ongoing water disputes and military presence

BAGHDAD — Falih Al-Khazali, head of the Iraqi Parliament’s Agriculture and Water Committee, has urged suspending trade with Turkey, citing Ankara’s lack of cooperation on water management, military incursions, and a trade imbalance.

Al-Khazali’s demand comes amid escalating tensions over water rights, with Baghdad accusing Turkey of withholding water from crucial rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates. In a report by Al-Sabah newspaper, Al-Khazali pointed to 90 Turkish incursion points and four military bases in Iraq, including one in Nineveh, further straining relations.

Negotiations on a water sharing agreement broke down earlier this year with agriculture and water committee deputy Zozan Kocher revealing in January that talks were halted over Ankara’s reported failure to release 50% of agreed upon volume from Turkish dams into rivers flowing south towards Iraq.

Al-Khazali has advocated for trade suspension in response to what he called Turkey’s failure to cooperate, further noting a current imbalance in relations with Ankara’s $24 billion trade surplus and 600 investment companies in Iraq.

Praising negotiations with Iran regarding cooperation on the Karun River which flows into Basra’s Shatt Al-Arab, Al-Khazali stressed the need for a stronger stance against Turkey.

Water resource management remains a significant concern overall with the parliamentary committee reviving previously stalled agricultural and water resource projects. Funds have been allocated for 76 projects halted since 2011, and 500 sprinklers have been equipped for the Ministry of Agriculture with plans to purchase up to 10,000 more to reduce water waste.

Beyond immediate measures, the committee is preparing the Supreme Council of Water Law for its first reading. Additionally, significant steps are planned to support livestock, palm cultivation, and desert areas, including a project to plant over one million palm trees in the Samawah desert, creating jobs for 3,000 workers and 150 engineers.