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Iran has suffered losses due to the lack of political dialogue with regional countries on water.
Iran has suffered losses due to the lack of political dialogue with regional countries on water.

Absence of Water Diplomacy Leads to Ecological Disasters

There is a notable absence of a clear and comprehensive strategy on cross-border sources of water
Iran can ensure peace over the issue of water by conducting a skillful diplomacy

Absence of Water Diplomacy Leads to Ecological Disasters

Many environmental challenges such as drought and dust storms are the outcomes of ineffective past water diplomacy, an expert on geopolitics said.
Mohammad Hossein Papoli Yazdi, the head of the Iranian Association of Geopolitics, stressed that water has become as valuable as oil and future wars will be over this key natural resource, IRNA reported.
"Our country will have to face the consequences of the international water crisis in the next 10 years, if it fails to find solutions with the aid of diplomacy today," he said.
The expert added that although there are policies regarding domestic sources of water, there is a notable absence of a clear and comprehensive strategy on cross-border sources, of which Iran has a right.
"In general, the country pursues no water diplomacy at the regional and international scale," he said.
Iran has already suffered losses due to the lack of political dialogue on water. The most significant are ecological issues resulting from Turkey's large-scale damming project.
Papoli noted that if Iranian officials had entered into diplomatic negotiations with Turkey 40 years ago, when they began building dams over Tigris and Euphrates, the waters that cross Iraqi and Syrian plains to form Arvandroud would not have reached their present state.
The desiccation of wetlands in Iraq due to the reduction in water inflow from the two major rivers has triggered dust and sand storms in the region, which also affect Iran's western provinces.
Iran is also engaged in disputes with Afghanistan over Hirmand River.
"In 1972, Iran and Afghanistan signed an agreement on Hirmand waters, which was to the huge disadvantage of Iran and reduced its water right to less than 10%," he said, adding that Afghanistan is still building dams over waters that flow into the country.
Hariroud River that flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan toward the Iran-Turkmenistan border is another area of conflict.
The expert added that the reservoir of Iran–Turkmenistan Friendship Dam over Hariroud will most likely shrink due to the construction of the Salma Dam (Afghan-India Friendship Dam) on the river's upstream.
The Aras border river in the northwest of Iran is at risk of pollution from copper mining in Armenia that once again calls for clever water diplomacy to prevent the disaster.
Papoli said Iran can ensure peace over the issue of water by conducting a skillful diplomacy.
A department within the Energy Ministry deals with cross-border rivers, but the official called for the launch of a department in the Foreign Ministry so as to dispatch water counselors to other states for negotiations.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, a section in the ministry's Legal and International Affairs Department is now in charge of water diplomacy.
Papoli also suggested that Iran purchase water springs in other countries for future use.
"This investment in water will be of benefit to Iran," he said.
His other proposed solution was the ambitious idea of directing communities to settle near marine areas to exert more control over shared waters.
"The money earmarked for Tehran could be invested in the Oman Sea region," he said.
A national conference on "Water Diplomacy and Hydropolitics Opportunities in West Asia" is scheduled to be held in March 2018 with the aim of establishing a framework for water diplomacy, presenting solutions for upholding Iran's water rights and crisis management.
Papoli expressed hope that the event will help improve water diplomacy.

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