Saturday, July 05, 2014

UPDATE: Extremists In Iraq Now Control the Country's Rivers

UPDATE 8-9-14

ISIS Seizes Mosul Dam

Saw this coming. Question is, why were they allowed to get this far? As a pretext to continue US bombing? People are suffering here and have been for weeks. Time to stop playing geopolitics with their lives.

Religious fervor and geopolitics don't mix and it is always the innocents who suffer.


UPDATE 7-22-14:

Iraq, Syria Forced To Turn To Sea For Drinking Water

By Amotz Asa-El

The Euphrates and the Tigris, two of biblical Paradise’s four rivers, are under attack.

The civil wars in Iraq and Syria are now victimizing the rivers themselves. The consequences of the burgeoning water crisis will be an emblem of water’s economic future, regardless of its Middle Eastern travails.

With President Bashar Assad and the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) waging total war, Syria’s water infrastructure is fast cracking.

The Euphrates Dam, Syria’s largest, was taken over by ISIS, and the 85-kilometer-long Lake Assad to which it is attached is anarchically overpumped. The lake’s water level has plunged this year alone by six meters and is but one meter away from failing to supply 4 million people who rely on it for drinking water, according to a recent report by Chatham House.

In Aleppo thousands are waterless and are drinking from puddles after one or more of the warring sides knocked out a local pumping plant. South of there, in Homs, sewage is flowing in water pipes after a water-treatment plant suffered a direct hit, sending millions to boil water in the intermittent occasions when it drips from the faucet. Experts now fear a humanitarian catastrophe, regardless of the war’s political results, as contamination flows downstream, to Iraq.

Diplomacy has contaminated the river’s multinational course no less than physical pollution.

Turkey, the power upstream from Iraq, has reduced in the past the Euphrates’ flow by damming it for hydroelectricity. Now, as part of its hostility to both Syria and ISIS, Turkey is again squeezing the water pipe. Prewar coordination between Ankara and Damascus is now unthinkable, thus increasing water’s theft and mismanagement in Syria.

Finally, as if war and politics are not catastrophic enough, eight years of drought had brought Syria’s farming sector to its knees even before the civil war’s outbreak, as wheat output plunged to a fifth of its previous levels. The consequent emigration of jobless millions from farm to town is part of what ignited the anti-Assad revolt.

Where, then, does all this lead?

End of excerpt


Whether the current slaughter in Gaza perpetuated by hate and terrorism for profit is by design or not to get the focus off of ISIS in Iraq, it nevertheless is worthwhile to note that there is a connection... WATER. None of the horrors taking place in this entire area are without connection regarding water and natural gas. And where does it lead? Unfortunately to more war, destruction and death for control of vital resources. In the past I have tried to be hopeful. I am not so sure anymore of the outcome of this.


Extremists in Iraq now control the country's rivers

Iraq has blazed its way back onto the world's front pages in the past 48 hours, with the seemingly sudden capture of the cities of Mosul and Tikrit by an extremist group. The group seems to be targeting the region's rivers: its main geostrategic vulnerability. It now controls the upper reaches of both the Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) considers itself the true government of a region stretching from Israel to Iraq. It has been among the rebels fighting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and controls the territory in eastern Syria around Deir al-Zour.

Despite the apparent suddenness, ISIS's assault on Iraq has been brewing for six months. Last January, ISIS started fighting its way from Syria down the Euphrates river into Iraq. In May it captured the town of Fallujah, the scene of bloody fighting during the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. This week, ISIS captured Iraq's second-largest city Mosul, on the Tigris river, then advanced down the Tigris to the town of Tikrit, and beyond it to the Shiite holy town of Samarra. Both Samarra and Fallujah are within striking distance of the capital Baghdad.

It is not clear at the time of writing whether ISIS will launch a military attack on Baghdad, or even if it could take the heavily armed city in a pitched battle.

Choke points

But it may not need to. Iraq is ancient Mesopotamia, the once-fertile floodplain of the Tigris and Euphrates that cradled the first human civilisation. The rivers remain crucial to the farming on which most Iraqis depend, according to a report by the International Centre for Agricultural Research on the Dry Areas, which was once based in Aleppo, Syria, but has now decamped to Amman in Jordan to avoid fighting.

ISIS now controls several major dams on the rivers, for instance at Haditha and Samarra. It also holds one 30 kilometres north of Mosul that was built on fragile rock and poses a risk of collapse. It holds at least 8 billion cubic metres of water. In 2003, there were fears Iraqi troops might destroy the dam to wipe out invading forces. US military engineers calculated that the resulting wave would obliterate Mosul and even hit Baghdad.

End of excerpt


There has been much media coverage of ISIS in the last week however, anyone recall water being made part of reports? The dynamics of water and control of it is crucial in any battle in this area of the world that has also increasingly been damned in more ways than one. To downplay the urgency of this news geopolitically and more importantly morally is a big mistake. Taking into account the religious war that has been going on for centuries we now see Iraq on the precipice of total ruination. It's people and culture destroyed. It's only source of life in the hands of an extremist element driven by religious hatred and emboldened by a foreign policy that has been a failure. There are no good sides in any of this, except the Iraqi people who are caught in the middle of this war of geopolitical and religious revenge for all of the players involved. Where is the govt of Iraq? It is to this point virtuallyineffective in stopping them, it's people now escaping the cities to camps war weary making it even easier for groups like this to invade. It is as if it had been planned long ago to play out this way...

To use water as a weapon is a war crime and human rights abuse. To see these rivers and dams now fall into the hands of ISIS should set off alarm bells and universal condemnation...but then, gaining control over the water and electrical resources was also the tactic used by the US in its first Gulf War in 1991. Questions now come to mind...would Iraq be in this state if Hussein were still in power? (and that is no defense of Hussein who did his part as well regarding water and revenge regarding the Marsh people of Iraq.) Would these divisions have festered to the point that they boiled over eventually whether or not the US had invaded in 2003? Also, with natural gas pipelines being built in this area what role geopolitically does that play and how will Turkey react regarding control of Tigris and Euphrates in light of its dam building plans? For some it is hard to conceive that water could be the catalyst for a world war. Consider however, the world we live in now also adding climate destruction to the mix and it becomes much more possible. This is not only alarming but also truly sad.

Also see:

Water supply key to outcome of conflicts in Iraq and Syria, experts warn

The outcome of the Iraq and Syrian conflicts may rest on who controls the region’s dwindling water supplies, say security analysts in London and Baghdad.

Rivers, canals, dams, sewage and desalination plants are now all military targets in the semi-arid region that regularly experiences extreme water shortages, says Michael Stephen, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute thinktank in Qatar, speaking from Baghdad.

“Control of water supplies gives strategic control over both cities and countryside. We are seeing a battle for control of water. Water is now the major strategic objective of all groups in Iraq. It’s life or death. If you control water in Iraq you have a grip on Baghdad, and you can cause major problems. Water is essential in this conflict,” he said.

Isis Islamic rebels now control most of the key upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates, the two great rivers that flow from Turkey in the north to the Gulf in the south and on which all Iraq and much of Syria depends for food, water and industry. “Rebel forces are targeting water installations to cut off supplies to the largely Shia south of Iraq,” says Matthew Machowski, a Middle East security researcher at the UK houses of parliament and Queen Mary University of London.

“It is already being used as an instrument of war by all sides. One could claim that controlling water resources in Iraq is even more important than controlling the oil refineries, especially in summer. Control of the water supply is fundamentally important. Cut it off and you create great sanitation and health crises,” he said.

Isis now controls the Samarra barrage west of Baghdad on the River Tigris and areas around the giant Mosul Dam, higher up on the same river. Because much of Kurdistan depends on the dam, it is strongly defended by Kurdish peshmerga forces and is unlikely to fall without a fierce fight, says Machowski.

Last week Iraqi troops were rushed to defend the massive 8km-long Haditha Dam and its hydroelectrical works on the Euphrates to stop it falling into the hands of Isis forces. Were the dam to fall, say analysts, Isis would control much of Iraq’s electricity and the rebels might fatally tighten their grip on Baghdad.

Mosul Dam

End of excerpt

ISIS Path of Destruction Drains Iraq/Syria's Water Supplies

ISIS supposedly began as Al Qaeda element that was an ally of the Syrian resistance against Assad in Syria...they allegedly received "back door" US help and have now shifted eastward into Iraq.

Water Wars directed against Syria and Iraq: Turkey’s Control of the Euphrates River

Water also being used as a weapon by Turkey.

Turkey’s decision to block the flow of the Euphrates also affects Iraq’s share, said Khaled Abu Al-Waled, a media activist from Raqqa City. “This is a flagrant violation of international water conventions,” he insisted. “No drop of the Euphrates now enters Syrian territory.”

Some villages have no safe drinking water, forcing locals to use water taken directly from the lake, despite the danger of disease.

The pro-opposition Violation Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC) also condemned Turkey’s behaviour, warning that the consequences will be negative. “This is a weird action,” said Bassam Al-Ahmad, the VDC spokesperson. He called on the Turkish government to reverse the decision. “Our demands are clear for the Turkish government to take immediate measures to stop this action.”

Historically, Turkey has been in conflict with Syria and Iraq over the control of the Euphrates. In the past, Turkey denied that the Euphrates is an international river and that Syria and Iraq had any rights over the control of the flow.

In 1994, an agreement between Syria and Turkey was registered at the United Nations to guarantee a minimum share of the water from the Euphrates to Iraq and Syria. “We can say that this measure is serving the interests of Turkey and embarrassing the Assad regime,” added Ali Amin Al-Suwaid.

Copyright Abdulrahman Al-Masri, Middle East Monitor, 2014


Also See:

The Decline of Glorious Babylon

The Root Causes Of Violence In Syria: Climate Change and Water

Iraq's Marshes Reborn

Water Shortage In Iraq Threatens Two Million People

Turkey Blamed For Looming Crop Disaster In Iraq

Iraq's Marshes, Corporate Control, And Water Scarcity

160 Syrian Villages Deserted Due To Climate Change

What Does The Arab World Do When Their Water Runs Out?

Without Water, Revolution

It's Great Lake Shriveled, Iran Faces Crisis Of Water Supply

Make no mistake, this does not just effect Iraq. What happens regarding control of its water sources and dams will reverberate throughout the Middle East and exacerbate a humanitarian crisis that is already beyond inhumane.

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