Fashion

As Violence Grips Iraq, Fears of Pre-Emptive Flooding Arise

The possibility of potentially catastrophic flooding has emerged following reporting that either Iraqi military forces or Sunni militants would open the floodgates of a dam on the Euphrates River.

Citing statements by Iraqi security officials made Wednesday, the New York Times reported that ISIS forces “were advancing on the Haditha Dam,” located roughly 120 miles from Baghdad.

The dam is the country’s second largest and generates hydroelectric power.

The Times does not cite a specific threat made by ISIS forces that they would open the floodgates, but notes that ISIS fighters in April seized the Falluja Dam and unleashed flooding.

The Times reporting adds that Iraqi government forces were responding to the possibility by being prepared to open the dam’s floodgates themselves. From the Times:

Regardless of which side might open the floodgates, it is the civilian population who would suffer in such an event, Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, an organization that works to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them, explained to Common Dreams.

“Dams have been used as weapons of mass destruction through the ages,” Bosshard continued. “In the first recorded water war, the army of Umma, a Sumerian city state, drained irrigation canals against their enemies of Lagash in present-day Iraq, not far from Haditha Dam, 4,500 years ago. In the most infamous case, the nationalist army of Chian Kai Shek destroyed the dikes of the Yellow River in 1937 to slow the advancing Japanese army, thereby flooding hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land and killing at least 800,000 of its own people,” he added.

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