Oil and natural gas are the two leading natural resources of Iraq. Those two resources are the most important issues that take attention both in Iraq and in assessments about Iraq. As an addition, those resources are also constitutes the ground for the debates about federalism, new administration system in Iraq, along with the ethnic and sectarian issues. However, water issue is mentioned as a problem for a long time and this issue gradually became on the agenda in Iraq.
Iraq sees neighbouring countries in general and Turkey specifically as responsible for the water problem in the country. Iraq asserts that because of the Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) which Turkey implements as a multi dimensional project, the amount of water which flows to the country from Turkey is decreased. Those claims are not acceptable, but responding such claims is not the aim of this study.
After the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein by coalition forces with the leadership of USA, the debates were about the new government system in the country. In this era ethnic and sectarian strife emerged and caused a civil war. With the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution no: 1546 it is come on the scene that, new governmental system will depend on federalism. In that resolution federal, democratic, pluralist and united Iraq is mentioned and therefore future of Iraq is constituted.After forming of Interim Administration Council, Transitional Period Administrative Law has been adopted and this law constituted the basic of 2005 Iraqi Constitution.
According to the 1. article of the Iraqi Constitution, dated 15 October 2005, Iraq is a parliamentarian, democratic and federal republic.Moreover, with the federalism law adopted in October 2006, establishment and regulation of federal regions are provided however, not only because of the tension between federal government and Kurdish regional government but also among sectarian and ethnic groups, the law could not come into force.
Federal structure of Iraq cannot be considered apart from the ethnic and sectarian identities. Thus, the structure expected to be unifier seems to have a secessionist character. The basic argument that strengthens the thought that there is a long way for democracy in Iraq is the organization of political parties in ethnic and sectarian basis. Each group in Iraq considers federalism differently. Particularly, the Kurdish Regional Government considers federalism as a mechanism softening the power of federal government on Kurdish areas and increasing the influence of regional government. Tragic events in the past strengthen their determination on this issue.
There are some groups rejecting federalism as well as some groups that consider establishing a Shi’ite region composed of 9 governorates. Iraqi Sunnis are concerned that federalism will harm the unified Iraq.
Iraqi Constitution states in article 111 that oil and natural gas resources belong to all Iraqis. On the other hand in article 112 points out that the federal government will manage oil and natural gas resources with the producing governorates and distributes its revenues in a fair manner in proportion to the population distribution in all parts of the country. At the same time this article stresses that the regions which were deprived of by the old regime will have priority in this distribution. These expressions bring an ambiguous regulation and provide sufficient arguments to all parties about the management and distribution of oil and natural gas revenues.
The same ambiguity appears about water resources. Constitution diversifies the water resources as external and internal and gives exclusive authority to the federal government. Article 110 arranges exclusive authorities of the federal government. According to the 8. paragraph of the article “Planning policies relating to water sources from outside Iraq and guaranteeing the rate of water flow to Iraq and it’s just distribution inside Iraq in accordance with international laws and conventions” is in the authority of federal government. 114. article arranges the competencies shared between the federal authorities and regional authorities. 7. paragraph of the related article expresses that the competencies about formulating and regulating the internal water resources policy in a way that guarantees their just distribution are shared between federal and regional governments and this will be arranged by a law.
It is explicitly stated in the 115. article of the constitution that, in the case of conflicting water resourses development policies between federal and regional governments, the policies of the regional governments have priority. Furthermore, article 121 states, “in case of a contradiction between regional and national legislation in respect to a matter outside the exclusive authorities of the federal government, the regional power shall have the right to amend the application of the national legislation within that region.”
According to the Iraqi Constitution governorates have the right to organize into a region except Baghdad and temporarily Kirkuk governorates. However to date there is no region other than the Kurdish Regional Goverment. Even if there are demands for establishing regions it can be considered that dissents to these demands are more dominant. Kurdish Regional Government is constituted from Dohuk, Sulaimaniyya and Arbil. The region that covers the mountainous areas of northern Iraq has rich water resources with respect to other areas of Iraq. Many tributaries of the Tigris River are in this region. Moreover Dukan and Darbandikhan HEPP’s are also located in this region. Even if the greatest dam and HEPP of the country, Mosul Dam, is not in the borders of the Kurdish Regional Government, it is de facto controlled jointly by KDP and PUK.
In the case of a disagreement about water resources development policies between Kurdish Regional Government and Federal Government Iraq will face a new problem. Current constitution does not give much hope for a solution. Kurdish Regional Government has much experience on regional government practices since 1992. It is clear that Kurdish Regional Government will behave jealously, by stating their tragic experiences, on the rights given by the current constitution. Nowadays, importance of holistic approach in water management is understood. Consequently, it must be taken into account by all parties that a disintegrated water management will create problems.
 http://daccess-dds ny.un.org/doc/UND
Duman, Fatma Ceren Türkmen, http://www.orsam.org.tr/tr/tr