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Is a water crisis brewing between Turkey and Iran?

Discord over transboundary waters and dam construction emerges as a major factor underlying the strains in Turkish-Iranian ties.
Recreational boats along the shore of the salt lake of Urmia and Shahid Kalantari causeway crossing it in Iran.
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A row over transboundary waters is simmering between Turkey and Iran, adding to recent tensions over the formation of a new government in Iraq and the control of the Iraqi region of Sinjar. Irked by Turkey’s construction of dams on the Aras and Tigris rivers, Tehran has come to publicly accuse Ankara, cranking up a dispute that has been largely confined to diplomatic channels thus far.

Speaking in parliament May 10, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian slammed Turkey’s dam projects as “unacceptable” moves that threaten to reduce waterflows and inflict environmental damage to both Iran and Iraq. Tehran has to “pursue the case through dialogue and bilateral negotiations” since Turkey is not a signatory of the 1997 New York Convention on the non-navigational use of transboundary waters, which prevents Tehran from suing Ankara internationally, the minister said. “We should not allow countries such as Turkey to use the current lack of an international mechanism to change the environmental conditions either in Iran or Iraq,” he added.

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