الخميس، 29 سبتمبر، 2016
The Impacts of Illisu Dam on the Environment Surrounding and Human Being in Both Iraq and Turkey
The Impacts of Illisu Dam on the Environment Surrounding and Human Being in Both Iraq and Turkey
Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Khalil Al- Allaf.
Regional Studies Center –University of Mosul
Illisu dam on the river Tigris, is one of thirteen similar project, that Turkish government intend to execute on the river Tigris and Euphrates. These projects are to be used for producing electric power by using hydraulic power. Illisu dam is considered as part of the (Forest Project), which is to the south east of the Anadol, near the shared borders with Iraq and Syria, and was expected to be executed by British company. The Regional Director of the International Bank assured that : “The bank is going to offer a hundred million dollars for executing seven projects, in the planes of Harran and Shanle Orphe within the Forest Project”. Illisu dam will contain an electro-hydraulic station of a 1.200.000.000 Mw capacity, to produce a power of 3.830.000.000 kw/hr/year.
On December 2000, the British government decided to offer a lawn for a British company to erect the Illisu dam, of which the estimated cost approaches to 1.75 billion dollars. Turkey decided that the end of the year 2000, will be the start of the project, which will require (export credits) from nine countries, including the UK in the first place. The project includes, in addition to the dam, huge artificial lake behind it.
The (Environment Supporters), criticized severely the project of Illisu dam, emphasizing that it will affect negatively on more that 60.000 people , living on the banks of the river Tigris in Turkish Kurdistan. On the other hand, the (International Development Agencies), expressed their fears that executing this dam will result in a disastrous increment in the water level of the river Tigris, leading to negative impacts on both Iraq and Syria. In addition, the water of the artificial lake will submerge some important archaeological places. It is worth mentioning, that the British criticisms for the dam were instigated by the groups of human rights defenders. Two MPs, Ann Cloyde and peter Lloyed, investigated the opinions of the inhabitants of the area about the dam, moreover, the Parliament fears that the violation of human rights, because of the project, will rise the suspects about the claim of the British Government, about following a foreign policy which does not consider the morale principles. Thus, the UK government was criticized severely for its support to the project and due to the pressure of many sides upon the government, a UK governmental group put four conditions to agree to a supportive lawn of 450 million dollars. These conditions are :
1- Starting a resettlement program for 60.000 Kurds who will be forced to leave their villages because of the project.
2- Consulting Iraq and Syria about the project.
3- Introducing a plan for saving archaeological sites, who are 2000 years old.
4- Starting environmental improvements, including the installation of sewer channels.
Due to the mentioned conditions, the Swedish Company (Scansca) withdrew from the project, in addition, the British Ministry of Trade and Industry, recommended the companies to withdraw, but the prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair) cancelled this recommendation. Also, Mike Wilton, the executive director of (Balfour Beatty), said that there are many sustained unsolved problems regarding the project, and it is better for his company not to proceed. Members of political and environmental groups assured that the companies withdrew from the project, because building the dam on the river Tigris will make thousands of people homeless, starts a war with Iraq or Syria and destroys many archaeological treasures including the castle of Hasankef’s which belongs to the medieval centuries.
Dr. Mothafar Abdullah Al-amin, the head of the Iraqi Interests Brach in London, said that the efforts of the (Earth friends society) and the team that opposited the project were successful, and he thanked the environmental groups, mentioning that Iraq offered many information about the negative effects of the dam. Al-amin also revealed that Turkey claimed that Iraq and Syria approved to the project, saying that the dam will not reduce the water level, but the truth is that the Turkish government decided to execute the project, in spite of the Iraqi and Syrian objections.
Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that “Turkey will resume the project, and the withdrawal of the British and Italian companies is a sorrowful news”. This withdrawal weakens the association of the companies which were decided to execute the project, and after the withdrawal of the Swedish company, three Turkish companies were left alone. (Teska , Norwall and Tekifen).
The Arab League received two official memorandums from Iraq and Syria concerning the participation of Swiss companies in building Illisu dam on the UK is Tigris. Syria informed the League that the UK is making a study to finance the process of erecting one of the biggest dams on the river Tigris called Illisu dam, and that Turkey plans to execute this project within the (Forest Project) near the borders with Iraq and Syria, without consulting these two countries, assuring that this project represents a clear violation to the rules of inter national law related to structures executed on the international rivers.
Iraqi government in her memorandum emphasized that developing the farms and enlarging the irrigated areas in the region, which the international Bank decided to finance within the (forest project), will result in.
A- Reducing the annual amount of water for Iraq and Syria.
B- The dangers of severe pollution.
C- Reducing the power generated in Iraq and Syria leading eventually to a great damage in the economy and development of the two countries.
The report urged the Arab Foreign Ministries to take the necessary measures reconsidering the treaties and agreements between Arab countries and the companies and foundations, which are involved in executing Turkish projects in the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, until an agreement is accomplished among Iraq, Syria and Turkey, about dividing the water of the two rivers into fair shares.
The Arab League warned, in a report discussed during the conference of the Arab Foreign Ministry, on the 4th of July 1999, of the participation of the governments and some companies in the UK and Swiss Union in the project of Illius dam.
The report stated that this warning was sent as massages from the former Secretary General of the Arab League, Mr. Ismat Abdulmajeed, to both Mr. Robin Cock, the former British Foreign Minister, and the Foreign Ministry of the Swiss Union.
In his massage, the Secretary General emphasized on violating the law by the British and Swiss companies if they participated in financing this project, and urged to avoid the negative impacts which may result from the British and Swiss support for this project.
The Secretary General stated that the stance of the UK and Swiss Union does not conquer with the principles of the international law and civilization standards, moreover, it is a Turkish violation to the rules of the International law, related to constructing structures on the international rivers, which are included in the international treaties and agreements, approved by the UN, including the UK as a member state, on May 1997.
Earlier, the secretary General expressed his fears, as well as the League’s to the Director of the International Bank, that the continuous of financing there Turkish projects, will have negative effects on the rights of the Arabs in the waters of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The secretary General expressed also his hope that the international Bank reconsiders his decision about this issues to guarantee the rights and interests of the member states, and to show the commitment to the objects and rules of the Bank rules of the Bank.
The Secretary General of the Arab League also, referred to the former assurance of the Director of the International Bank, in which he emphasized that the Bank will not finance any projects, within the (Forest Project), unless it fulfills the requirements of the operational policy of the Bank especially these related to the law of water courses.
On July, 17th 2000, the Arab League asked the UK to reconsider financing the project of Illisu dam, fearing that it will force many inhabitants in the area to leave their homes, as well as affecting the amount of water allocated for Iraq and Syria.
A senior official in the League stated that : “the League had sent a massage to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Robin Cock, informing him that this dam will represent a violation to international laws, related to common rivers”, moreover the Deputy of the Secretary General for political affairs, Mr. Mohammed Zakaria Ismael , declared that building this dam will result in :
1- The migration of thousands of people from the area.
2- The reduction of the water shares of both Iraq and Syria.
It is worth mentioning that the Arab League, pays a great attention to the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The council of the League issued many resolutions since the 98th session on September 1992, in which it confirmed its support to the rights of Iraq and Syria in the waters of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, calling the Turkish government to a trio-negotiations, in order to reach to a final agreement about dividing these water into fair and reasonable shares for the three countries, in accordance to the rules of international Law. Earlier , the Council expressed its fears about the continuance of the Turkish projects of building dams on the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, without prior consultation with Iraq and Syria , according to the international treaties and protocols among the three countries. The Council also expressed his fears about the resolution of the British government to finance building the Turkish Illisu dam on the river Tigris, urging the UK to stop financing the project, and calling the member states of the League, to reconsider their deals with the companies participating in the Turkish projects on the river Tigris and Euphrates, and finally urging the member states, who did not approve the treaty of using international water courses for non-navigation purposes, to do so immediately.
Arab Ministers, on their turn, expressed their fears of the Turkish persistence on building dams and other projects on the rivers Tigris and Euphrates , without prior consultation with the two neighboring countries, Iraq and Syria according to the items of the international Law, Treaties and Protocols among the three countries.
The Ministers expressed , also their concern from the growing danger of the (Israeli) role in the (Forest Project), in Turkey on the security of Arab waters.
Arab Ministers expressed their concern of the intention of the British and Swiss governments, to give credits to finance the Turkish Illisu dam, calling these governments to respond to the objections of the Arab formal and non-formal organizations, to stop financing the project, and urging Arab countries to reconsider their deals with the companies participating in the Turkish projects and they urged the Arab states, to use their relations with the countries and international foundations, who intend to finance or credit these projects to stop, until a fair agreement among three countries is achieved. Arab countries who did not approve the treaty of using international courses for non-navigation purposes, or who did not deposit the approval document to the Secretary General of the UN, were urged to do so immediately, as well as , convincing friend countries to follow the same procedure, and to urge the Secretary General of the Arab League, to intense his efforts with the Turkish side, in order to reach to a fair solution, which guarantees the rights two Arab countries, and to continue with the foreign foundations, wo intend to participate funding or executing the project of Illisu dam, to convince them with the dangerous impacts of such projects.
All these efforts affected obviously in the following changes in the situation, such as the withdrawal of the British and Italian companies, on which Turkey depended to execute the project, in order to eliminate the whole project.
The BBC announced on the 13th of November 2001, the news of the withdrawal of the biggest participating companies in the project, the British (Balfour Beatty) and the Italian (Ambrillio), as a big hit for the project, in spite of the support of British PM (Mr. Tony Blair). The Guardian and The Financial Times said that (Balfour Beatty), the giant company, “decided to withdraw from the project, because of the economic, social and environmental reasons, which hinder the execution of the project”. This sudden announcement comes after the spread of rumors saying that the British PM wanted to reward Turkey in return for her support in invading Afghanistan.
In a statement issued on November 12th 2001, Balfour Beatty announced that the decision of the withdrawal resulted from general and exact evaluation for all commercial, environmental and social problems related to the project. The statement added that “since these problems are not solved yet, nor in the future, Balfour Beatty thinks that it is best for the shareholders to quit the project.” It is worth mentioning that the withdrawal of Balfour Beatty came within a chain of similar cases, such as the case of the Swedish company (Scanscama), which took place in 2000, because of “the difficult negotiations with the other participating companies”, as the company claimed. After the withdrawal of Balfour Beatty, only an Austrian company specialized in electro-hydraulic projects, was left alone. The UK government supported the project from the beginning with Turkey. Yet, it is not clear, so far, weather the withdrawal of the British company will delay the project, or cancel it. Mr. Kerim Yeldiz, the Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project said, in an interview with the BBC : “ It is a good news, the whole project is now blown away.” But Turkey does not agree with the plan of the supporters of environment and human rights, on the contrary, Turkey considers canceling the project, as a big hit for the policy of the country, which depends on attracting the foreign capitals to the country.
It is really surprising that, the French company “Elestom”, started in the middle of 2002, negotiations with the Turkish government, to execute the Illisu dam, without considering the criticisms to the project, especially those related to the right of Iraq in the quality and quantity of the waters of the river Tigris, never to mention the impacts of the dam on the environment, population, health and archaeological places. Great efforts are needed by all available means, to impose pressure on the French company, by the social and environmental organizations, as well as, opening a conversation with the French government, to prevent this company from executing this project, since many British, Swedish, Italian and Swiss companies withdrew from the project, for the same reasons mentioned above. It is the duty of the human, public and environmental organizations and parties in both Iraq Syria, in cooperation with the international Health Organization, International Environment Organization and Human Rights Societies, to use all the available means , to explain the seriousness of the impacts of Illisu edam, on Iraq, Syria and Turkey, in addition. To the contrasts between building this dam with the International Laws related to International Rivers.
1- Starting a conversation with the IHO and IEO about the negative impacts of the dam on health and environment in Iraq, Syria and even Turkey.
2- Launching a wide campaign, wheather in newspapers or in magazines, or by TV and internet, to unveil the dangers beyond building the dam, and the harm that will result from it, to the Iraqi interests, including the quantities and qualities of the waters of the river Tigris their effect on health and environment.
3- Exposuring the stance of the French company, “Elestom”, which intends to execute the dam, considering the withdrawal of British, Swedish and Swiss companies, after they discovered the legal, environmental and social impacts of the dam.
4- Holding conferences and meeting about the subject, informing the people about the impacts of this dam on Iraq and Syria and unveiling the legal texts about building structures on the international rivers, those texts are included in the international treaties and protocols, especially that of using water courses for non-navigation purposes, which was approved by the UN in May 1997.
5- Inviting Turkey to re-attend the sessions of the trio-committee of (Iraq Syria and Turkey), which was formed previously to study dividing the waters of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, according to international laws and rules.
6- Informing the French company “Elestom”, that Iraq will seriously consider its negative stance and will stop any future deals with the company, since that the participation of the French company in the project will reduce the quantity of water of the Tigris, which is allocated for Iraq, in addition to the deterioration in the quality of these waters, and the negative impacts of this dam in health, environment and inhabitants in the area.
7- Trying to contact the human, environmental and social organizations in French, Turkey and other parts of the world, to unveil the stance of the French company “Elsstom” and the cooperation between the company and Turkey to execute the Illisu dam, in spite of the dangers of the dam on the health environment and archaeological places, not only in Iraq, but even in Turkey.
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