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[casi] Crocodile tears..


The following article is an excellent example of
The article says that the "the marshlands [in Iraq]
have been desiccated through the combined actions of
upstream damming in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, as
well as the development of extensive downstream
drainage projects undertaken by the regime of Saddam
Hussein to punish rebels following a 1991 uprising."

Of course, we don't know how the problems created by
the Turkish dams would be dealt with, if at all, even
though they violate known norms on the sharing of
water resources. Turkey has refused all efforts by
Syria and Iraq to reach any compromise, while planning
to supply Israel with water from the two rivers ..

We don't know either if the issue of the DU would be
an important one for the training of the Iraqi
scientists and environmentalists, and how it would be
dealt with..

What the articles leaves untold is the fact that the
drainage projects were designed by American
consultants in the 1950s as part of the very ambitious
"Construction Plan" for Iraq, whose projects continued
to be implemented by successive governments until
today. The project in the Marshes was not invented by
Saddam Hussein, though he might have chosen to
implement it for political reasons.

But it is typical for Americans to absolve themselves
of any sin and look like the pure angels..


08 May 2003
Natsios Says Iraqis Must Have a Part in Marshland
Restoration (USAID head calls damaged marshlands an
issue that will not go away) (890)
By Jim Fuller
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- A U.S. official says any plan for
restoration of southern Iraq's damaged Mesopotamian
marshlands must take into account the desires and
views of the Iraqi people -- especially the people who
live in the marshes -- at every step of the process.

Andrew Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), made his remarks as
part of a panel of experts gathered at The Brookings
Institution on May 7 to assess the human and
ecological damage that has occurred in the Iraqi
marshlands and discuss the possibility of their

Natsios said restoring Iraq's marshes will be
controversial, and referred to the controversies that
now surround the attempt to restore a major wetlands
region called the Everglades in the state of Florida.
The multi-year federal project calls for the removal
of 800 kilometers of diversionary canals and levees.

But Natsios said that the restoration of Iraq's
marshlands is an issue that "will not go away ... we
are looking at it now, and we certainly need the
expertise of the people in this room, in the financial
community, in international institutions, and within
Iraq itself, particularly among the people who live in
the marshes."

He called on the international community to design a
restoration plan that includes participation by the
Iraqis at every step, and that can resolve the social,
political and institutional issues related to
resettlement, property rights, economic opportunities
and social safety nets.

On April 25, an international team of scientists
issued a report saying that restoration of at least
significant parts of the marshland was technically
feasible, and would provide numerous benefits for Iraq
and the region, including flood abatement, water
quality improvement, increased biodiversity and the
resettlement of displaced communities.
The report was released by Eden Again, a non-profit
group supporting efforts to restore the marshlands.

The Iraqi marshlands, at the confluence of the Tigris
and Euphrates rivers, once covered over 20,000 square
kilometers of interconnected lakes, mudflats and
wetlands within modern-day Iraq and Iran. The
marshlands have long been revered both for their
unusual wetland ecology and for the 5,000-year-old
culture of the Madan, or "Marsh Arabs."

However, in the past 30 years, over 90 percent of the
marshlands have been desiccated through the combined
actions of upstream damming in Syria, Turkey, Iran and
Iraq, as well as the development of extensive
downstream drainage projects undertaken by the regime
of Saddam Hussein to punish rebels following a 1991
uprising. Untold numbers of Marsh Arabs perished and
close to 200,000 were forcibly displaced. The
environment suffered severe damage, with 95 percent of
the marshland itself becoming a crusty wasteland.

Natsios said restoring Iraq's marshes will depend on
establishing consensus with officials in Turkey, Syria
and Iran, whose dams still limit river flows into
southern Iraq. He said there currently is no
international agreement or comprehensive river basin
plan for managing the Tigris and Euphrates river
system, nor is there a mechanism for dealing with the
competing claims on these waters within Iraq itself.

"A restoration plan would have to include the
countries of the Tigris-Euphrates river basin, for
without their cooperation we're not going to have much
success," Natsios said.

He said USAID could provide valuable expertise in this
area based on the agency's extensive experience in
river basin management across national borders in
Latin America and Africa. He said it would also be
necessary to train Iraqi scientists,
environmentalists, officials in Iraq's new government
and the Marsh Arabs themselves in wetland

Victor Tanner, a faculty member at Johns Hopkins
University and co-author of a book entitled "The
Internally Displaced People of Iraq," agreed with
Natsios that it was critical that any restoration
plan reflect the views of the Marsh Arabs. He added
that these views would not be easy to obtain, because
the Marsh Arabs were now a disparate group that
included refugees in Iran, people displaced
outside the marshes and within the marshes, and people
who had moved to Baghdad in the 1950s and 1960s -- all
having different views.

"But these are views that must be listened to," he
said. "We must know ... what they want, and whether
they want to return; and if they can't return, what
compensation they can get.

"And they should not be held hostage to some romantic
notion of a return to the Garden of Eden," he added,
referring to the idea that the marshlands may have
been the inspiration for the biblical Garden
of Eden. The Marsh Arabs are thought to descend from
the Sumerians, who established humankind's first known

Tanner also emphasized that the Marsh Arabs, as Shiite
Muslims, were a downtrodden group in Iraq under the
Sunni Muslim government of Saddam
Hussein and even earlier, and would continue to be
marginalized in the new Iraq if efforts were not made
to change the situation.

"I believe one of the only places where the
international community, particularly the
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), can play a role
is by being a voice for the voiceless," he said.
"Because I think the Marsh Arabs will truly be a
voiceless community within the new Iraq if we're not

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of
International Information Programs, U.S. Department of
State. Web site:
This site is produced and maintained by the U.S.
Department of State's Office of International
Information Programs ( Links to
other Internet sites should not be construed as an
endorsement of the views contained therein.

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