Turkey to begin giant irrigation, dam projects – minister

Turkey will double its number of dams and make major extensions to its irrigation projects by its centenary in 2023, Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroğlu said – an announcement likely to cause tensions with Turkey’s southern neighbours.

“It is enough that we build irrigation projects, dams and pools,” he told state news agency Anadolu. “We have begun a campaign with this intention.”

He said that there were 727 existing dams in Turkey and that the government would double that number to 1,454 within six years.

Both more dams and a greater amount of irrigation increase the potential for friction with neighbours downstream.

Both the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are lifelines for agriculture and essential sources of drinking water for large swathes of neighbouring Syria and Iraq, whose governments have long complained about what they see as Turkey’s over-use of the water.

Experts have noted that greater control over Baghdad’s water supply could be Turkey’s trump card in any future instances of conflict.