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21.2.04

The Marsh Arabs Are Back

Via OxBlog, it looks like some environmental restoration is going on in a Middle East water system:

Marshes A Vengeful Hussein Drained Stir Again

That is just a sampling of the fates met by the displaced dwellers of these marshes in southern Iraq, once among the largest wetland ecosystems in the world. In the early 1990's, in a move that transformed the very face of nature in this country, Saddam Hussein ordered the 7,700-square-mile area drained and its residents attacked to force out Shiite Arabs he suspected of resisting his rule.

Last spring, local engineers began breaking dams and levees upriver to reflood the area, and Mr. Abdullah says he now uses his twisted hand [broken by Saddam's police] again for what it was meant to do — poling his boat, cutting reeds and casting fishing nets.

... Noble savages they are not. Many clamor for electricity and paved roads, and some say they prefer concrete or brick homes to the primitive arched reed houses scattered throughout the marshes. Some of the families who stayed in the area through the 1990's say they would like to hold on to the dry-land farming they have developed rather than return to an existence dependent on fishing and water buffalo.


I don't have anything insightful to add at the moment, but it's a really interesting bit of journalistic political ecology.

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