Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has criticized Turkey for its major dam projects on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
Rouhani has demanded that Turkey stop construction of both dams, saying that they were “dangerous” for the entire Middle East.
Speaking at a conference on sandstorms in Tehran on Monday, Rouhani did not name Turkey but said that multiple dams planned on the two major rivers that flow into Syria and Iraq will have “destructive consequences” and affect many, including people in Iran, reported Radio Free Europe.
According to the report, Turkey’s control of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers is controversial in the Middle East.
Critics say decisions made by Turkey have led to water shortages in Syria and Iraq and have contributed to regional instability and wars.
In February, Syrian Kurds accused Turkey of cutting off water supplies to the Euphrates River as a form of political pressure.
Last month, Iran’s Financial Tribune reported that Massoumeh Ebtekar, the country’s head of the Department of Environment, called on the Foreign Ministry to help convince Turkey to abandon its dam construction projects.
Ebtekar said the department “has done all it can”, arguing that “the Foreign Ministry must hold negotiations” with Turkey to convince the Ankara government to uphold the water rights of Tigris and Euphrates.
Just days earlier, Iran’s Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said Turkey’s dam projects “are taking a high toll on Iran’s environment”, referring to the resulting sandstorms after once fertile Iraqi farms have been turned into major sources of dust.
These sand storms have besieged 20 Iranian provinces for years, reported the Financial Tribune.
As part of its ambitious Southern Anatolia Project, Turkey has planned the construction of 22 dams.
Since 1975, Turkey’s extensive dam and hydropower construction projects have reportedly reduced water flows into Iraq and Syria by approximately 80 percent and 40 percent respectively.