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Friends, The following article is an excellent example of hypocrisy. 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.. HZ ------------------------------------------------------ http://usinfo.state.gov/cgi-bin/washfile/display.pl?p=/products/washfile/latest&f =03050801.glt&t=/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml 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 restoration. 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 management. 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 civilization. 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 careful." (The Washington File is a product of the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov) ------------------------------------------------------ This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State's Office of International Information Programs (usinfo.state.gov). 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