According to security analysts in London and Baghdad, control of the region’s dwindling water supplies plays a crucial role in the outcome of the Iraq and Syrian conflicts.
Experts outline that rivers, canals, dams, sewage and desalination plants are now all military targets in the semi-arid region that regularly experiences extreme water shortages. Moreover, control of water supplies is a strategic instrument over cities and countryside. Water represents the main tactical objective of all groups in Iraq, being an essential element in this conflict.
Reports show that Islamic rebels now control most of the key upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates on which all Iraq and much of Syria depends for food, water and industry.
In this framework, experts highlight the importance of controlling water supply. Rebel forces are targeting water installations to cut off supplies to the largely Shia south of Iraq, causing great sanitation and health crises.
In addition to that, increasing temperatures and severe droughts are key factors in the political destabilization of Syria.
Researchers stress that the wide use of water as a strategic weapon means that Syria’s essential services are on the brink of collapse under the burden of this continuous assault on critical water infrastructure. Additionally, these factors may drive to a water and food crisis that would escalate fatalities and migration rates in the country’s conflict.
The Euphrates River, the Middle East’s second longest river, and the Tigris, have historically been the main element at the center of conflicts: there has never been an outright war over water but water has played an important role in many Middle East conflicts.
Control of water supply is currently one of the main challenging issues of the international agenda. Experts warn that water will be the key instrument to control arid countries as Iraq in future.
The gLAWcal Team
the team of the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
(Source: The Guardian)