ISIS’s ‘Water War’

September 14, 2015 / Glen Reynolds

Dear Brothers and Sisters

I thought you might be interested in this extract (copyright and credit as below)
While the Dhi Qar marshlands face an environmental and public-health catastrophe, the IS “water war” is affecting other provinces and areas as well.

According to Furat al-Timimi of Iraq’s parliamentary Agriculture and Water Committee, since IS took control of the Ramadi dam, the militants have been able to control the water reaching Babel, Karbala, Najaf, and Qadisiyah provinces.

The flow of water in the Euphrates River has dropped below 50 percent of its normal rate of 200 cubic meters per second since IS took over the Ramadi barrage, Tamimi told Radio Free Iraq on June 22.

Riadh Adday of the Babel Provincial Council said on June 20 that thousands of square kilometers of farms and orchards in Babel are dying because they are not receiving sufficient water. The drought is also threatening the province’s animal resources.

Blaming Turkey
But the water shortages in the south of Iraq are not only caused by IS, Iraqi officials say.

Tamimi said that Iraq was already suffering from a shortfall in water from the Euphrates because Turkey reduced the water flow.

“As we have learned from the Syrian government, the Turkish side is not adhering to the agreed-upon quantities [to be] released by them. The three-party agreement between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq requires Turkey to release 500 cubic meters per second of the river’s water but it has not done so,” Timimi told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq.

Syria has also complained that Turkey is failing to supply enough water. Syrian Water Resources Minister Kamal al-Sheikha told his Iraqi counterpart, Mohsin al-Shammari, earlier this month that Turkey had violated water-sharing agreements.

But even if Turkey were to increase the volume of water it allowed into Iraq, that would not reduce the threat from IS.

IS could cause considerable damage if it sabotages or otherwise mismanages the Ramadi and Fallujah dams, Ali Hashem, director general of the Engineering Design Center at the Water Resources Ministry, told Radio Free Iraq.

“The worst damage will be in Anbar, followed by the other provinces,” Hashem said.

IS’s control of the dam could have other implications for IS, which is likely to use its control over Iraqi water resources to gain tactical and military advantages.

“The water of the Euphrates has up till now served as a natural frontier between the IS and government-controlled territories. Soon enough the Iraqi forces — already arguably stretched to their limits — may have to extend their frontier lines beyond the bridge crossings south of Ramadi,” QMUL’s Machowski said.

“The front lines of Anbar Province may soon become much easier to penetrate for the IS insurgents.”

Read the original article on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 

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