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« WSJ front-pager on "global gas push" mirrors Wikistrat sim scenario | Main | Nice post (full of data) about India in Africa »
12:23PM

Just starting Wikistrat simulation: Iraq 2023

From the preview page:

Introduction

The International Energy Agency predicts that by 2020, Iraq will roughly double its current oil production of 3 million barrels a day. Already, Baghdad exhibits the air of a raucously corrupt boom town, so it’s fair to say that the economic forces driving Iraq today will grow magnificently more profound over the next decade, as the country migrates from an Iran-sized oil industry to one eventually approaching that of Saudi Arabia.
 
With the current Persian Gulf security situation fixated on the Arab Spring, Iran’s reach for the Bomb and Turkey’s neo-Ottoman ambitions, it’s all too easy to ignore Iraq’s rapid rise as a world oil power (e.g., today’s Iraq accounts for more of the world’s rise in oil production than any other state), which begs the question: What kind of Iraq is possible 20 years post-Saddam?

Should be an interesting scenario drill.  As always, if you want to join Wikistrat's global community of strategic thinkers, the door is open.  Simply contact me and I will put you into the process of application.

Reader Comments (5)

http://dawn.com/2013/01/03/iraqi-town-caught-in-middle-of-territory-row/

Iraqi town caught in middle of territory row
AFP | 2 days ago
1

In this picture taken on December 27, 2012 a large Kurdish flag appears on a mountain in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, in northern Iraq’s Kirkuk province.—AFP Photo

TUZ KHURMATU: Butcher Sherzad Saleh stands outside his shop in Tuz Khurmatu holding a dead chicken. He has more pressing concerns than a high-level dispute over territory.

“The army comes here, this is my job; the peshmerga come here, this is my job,” says Saleh.

He means forces from the federal government and from the autonomous Kurdistan region deployed in disputed areas of north Iraq, including near Tuz Khurmatu, during recent periods of high tension between the two sides.

“I am not with the army or the peshmerga,” he says. “We want services, electricity, projects.”But top federal and Kurdish politicians have other priorities.

Whatever people like Saleh may wish for, Tuz Khurmatu, a town of low-rise buildings, palm trees and around 110,000 residents, is in a swathe of territory Kurdistan wants to incorporate into its autonomous region over Baghdad’s strong objections.

Diplomats and officials believe this dispute over territory is the greatest threat to Iraq’s long-term stability.

The establishment in September of the federal Tigris Operations Command, which covers disputed northern territory, drew an angry response from Kurdish leaders and increased tensions with the federal government.

Then on November 16, a firefight broke out during an attempt by Iraqi forces to arrest a Kurdish man in the town.

One person was killed and others were wounded, further worsening relations between Baghdad and Kurdistan as both sides deployed reinforcements.

The crisis, which Iraq’s parliament speaker warned could lead to civil war, has since eased, but the dispute over territory remains unresolved.

For the people of Tuz Khurmatu, simmering tensions between Baghdad and Kurdistan cause fear and are also bad for business.

The “army came, and the peshmerga came; the people are afraid” and business suffered, Saleh says.

“We do not want a war to happen. There is killing in war, it would affect our circumstances… our work would stop,” says grocer Hisham Fateh Hamid.

Mixed identities

Tuz Khurmatu is a town of mixed identities, a fact emphasised by its flags, massive Kurdish flags are emblazoned on hills to its east, Iraqi federal flags fly over official buildings and police checkpoints, and countless banners marking the death of a revered Shiite imam flutter from houses.

Many residents are Turkmen Shiites, hence the banners venerating Imam Ali, but Tuz Khurmatu also has Kurdish and Arab populations.

Despite their mixed ethnicities, the people say the dispute between the Kurdish region and the Arab-dominated government in Baghdad has not caused problems between residents.

“There’s no difference between Turkmen or Arabs or Kurds,” says Saleh, a Kurd.

Shakir Ahmed, an Arab owner of a grocery shop, agrees, saying that “no tension has occurred between citizens.” But Tuz Khurmatu is caught in the middle anyway: Kurdish peshmerga forces are deployed on the hills east of the town, and Iraqi soldiers man checkpoints and reinforced positions to the south.

Then there is a multiplicity of security forces inside Tuz Khurmatu, local police, Iraqi federal police, Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish forces.

Territorial tensions are not the only issue in Tuz Khurmatu. There are also seemingly sectarian attacks, part of a broader problem across Iraq, in which Shiites are frequently targeted in bombings by Sunni militants.

On December 17, two car bombs exploded in a Turkmen area of the town, killing five people and wounding 26.

Hamdi Ibrahim Samin’s wife was wounded in the head by one of the blasts which also smashed his house.

An entire wall that used to hold a door has also been blown away, and a few meagre belongings including a fan and two worn benches are piled amid the rubble.

“Nothing remains,” Samin says, as water from a broken pipe flows down a narrow street past other wrecked buildings near his home.

What Tuz Khurmatu ultimately needs, according to Shalal Baban, the administrative official responsible for the district, is development, not more military men and material.

“We currently need projects, construction,” he says, noting the lack of even basic services such as clean drinking water.

“We don’t need tanks, troop transports, armoured vehicles or planes,” Baban says. “We need projects.”

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenzil

1 "end of OPEC"
2 The old Iraq-Haifa pipeline built by the British

Somehow much of Iraq has some factor influencing from the outside!

Far out question : Would Israel with Kurds expand to the Euphrates! Thus the old King David Border? Can it happen if Jordan fails, ... all due to Arab Spring, and Syria also failing and fall!

http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Features/Article.aspx?id=303304
China's power plays in the Middle East
02/15/2013 16:57 By ILAN EVYATAR
Is China’s thirst for oil creating new opportunities for peace in the Middle East? "OPEC is about to collapse," says expert.
Power plays
Photo by: Reuters
The Chinese New Year – the Year of the Snake – began auspiciously for the People’s Republic this week with China eclipsing the US as the world’s biggest trading nation. Its combined imports and exports reached $3.87 trillion in 2012, edging past the US’s $3.82 trillion in goods.

The American economy remains twice the size of that of China, but as the latter hurtles toward parity, its thirst for energy knows no limits. While the US is still by far the world’s largest consumer and net importer of energy, China is catching up fast. At the same time, developments in the international energy market, in particular new technologies and the discovery of huge shale oil and gas reserves in the US, mean that the America is moving toward energy independence, while China is becoming ever more dependent on Middle East oil. Within the next 20 years its consumption of Middle East oil is expected to dwarf that of the US.

That shift from West to East, say analysts, creates a common interest between the world’s only superpower and the world’s emerging superpower for regional stability.

Shraga Biran, a Tel Aviv-based lawyer and entrepreneur with diverse energy interests, who heads the The Institute for Structural Reforms, a think tank that promotes structural and political reforms based on technological advances or economic, social changes, argues that the shifting map of the global energy market creates historic strategic opportunities..

“The US is becoming energy independent, fulfilling its dream for energy security, while China has taken the place of the US in being dependent on Middle East oil, importing over 60% of its consumption from the region,” says Biran.

“Moreover, the two superpowers are coordinating and cooperating in the exploitation of new oil production technologies supplied by the American giants that have been the supply forefront of oil to the US in the past and today to China. The fate and the solution of the problems in the Middle East will be from now on dependent on the renewed interest of the US in the Middle East and its new partner in the energy game – China.”

Biran sees this as no less than a “historical political revolution” taking place in the Middle East. “It is,” he says, “creating an opportunity that must not be missed, an opportunity for peace in the region thanks to an alignment of interests that did not exist in the past between the two powers, the US and China, representing the West and the rising East.”

That alignment of interests, says Biran, derives inter alia from an interdependence between the two powers based on the one hand on the US’s military dominance in the region and protection of maritime routes vital for the transport of oil and on the other the fact that China is not only the US’s second largest trading partner, but also holds more than $1.2 trillion in US debt.

“If we had been talking a couple of years ago no one would have believed it was possible,” says Biran. “The shift of the Middle East and North Africa’s oil exports from west to east occurred, in contrast to common wisdom, in a peaceful manner. Several years ago, the natural instinctive tendency of the US would have been to block the Chinese access to energy resources in Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Recently, there are signs that Washington has learned the lesson of the late ’30s. The US has an interest in the continuation of China’s economic growth which benefits the global and US economy alike. Both the US and China recognize the global economic interdependence and the significance of coordinated policy between them in securing energy resources.”

So how can Israel leverage the geo-political changes envisioned by Biran? “Until the new oil and gas revolution,” he says, “the developed economies’ dependence on the Middle East and North Africa’s energy was absolute. This fact enabled their direct extortion by fundamentalist states or indirect extortion by fundamentalist factors which put pressure on their states in order to create dependence. This era is ending. As a result, the fundamentalist powers are decreasing dramatically.”

He also predicts that changes in the international energy market will end OPEC’s monopoly on setting the price of oil.

"OPEC is about to collapse, and they know it. All the political power of the Arab world accumulated since 1973 is about to explode. This is a change in the global rules of the game that goes far beyond the borders of the Middle East. This process creates opportunities for a new energy world and sophisticated gas market with competition between the new oil and the old oil, between the new gas and the old gas. The new rules of the game will be set by the coordination of the economic interests of the US and China, and Israel should start getting ready for that.”

On the economic front, he says, both Israel and the Palestinians stand to reap enormous benefit from these geopolitical transformations as geographically they are situated at the potential center of a main oil and gas transport route connecting east to west.

Biran points to Israel’s strategic position between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea and the possibilities to hook up with oil pipelines that could transport, for example, oil from Chinese-owned fields in Central Asia via Ceyhan in Turkey on to tankers and then via the Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline to the Red Sea as an alternative to the Suez Canal and back on tankers to China. The old Iraq-Haifa pipeline built by the British could also fit into that picture, he explains, while the Chinese have also built a pipeline from Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coastline to Yanbu on its Red Sea coastline, where it could go via Eilat in the reverse direction to the Mediterranean.

While some would describe this as a pipe dream given current circumstances in the Middle East, Biran says: “China wields enormous power that can bring about changes to pull off projects that today may seem imaginary. Cooperation between the two superpowers in the Middle East may resemble the way economic interdependence developed in the “Marshall Plan” in Europe after the Second World War between the enemy states. The way I see it, strategic cooperation begins as they did in Europe [after the war] with logistical partnerships such as water, transportation, basic logistical needs.”

China, notes Biran, has already became more strategically involved in the Middle East and North Africa.

After the 2006 Second Lebanon War it sent a contingent of engineers and medical staff to the the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and recently it promoted its own plan to try and end the crisis in Syria. Meanwhile, bilateral trade between China and the Middle East has skyrocketed from 2000 to 2008.

Chinese exports to the Middle East have increased more than seven times while imports have grown five times. The McKinsey consulting group estimates that by 2020 total trade flows between China and the Middle East will reach $350 billion to $500b.

“China has to play a bigger role in shaping the political realities and landscape in the Middle East and in other places,” concurs Prof. Junhua Zhang, a political scientist from Shanghai Jiao Tong University who was recently in Israel as a visiting professor at the Hebrew University. “China’s policy in the Middle East has been very vague, but this should stop. Vague language will not help stability in the Middle East and China needs stability in the Middle East because oil provision is important for China and because the Middle East could also be a good market for China.”

Zhang explains that China’s foreign policy is in a state of transition as it emerges as a great power and that its energy needs and the necessity for it to expand its capital and markets in order to ensure the high growth rates crucial for the ruling Communist Party’s survival will leave the country’s leadership with no choice but to drop its low-profile approach in favor of a more proactive policy.

When can we expect to see China becoming more involved in the Middle East? That, says Zhang depends on domestic politics.

“Only when the new leadership feels that its status is stable will it allow itself to adopt a higher-profile foreign policy,” he says.

China, in order to be able to pay more attention to other regions, Zhang adds, also needs stability in its own backyard on issues like its dispute with Japan over the East China Sea islands known known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, which are potentially rich in oil and gas, and in the South China Sea, where it has maritime disputes with several countries, and of course the question of reunification with Taiwan.

“My guess is that this will definitely happen in the next three or four years, because for the leadership it is also a process of becoming familiar with the issues, and I think you cannot change your perceptions very soon.

I think that the need for capital expansion and the need for oil provision will lead China to become more involved in the Middle East.”

Zhang argues that when it comes to promoting arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians, the Chinese focus on the economy – and the fact that it is in good standing with all the parties – could perhaps succeed where Western emphasis on political solutions has failed. He suggests that the Special Economic Zone model China has employed successfully domestically to promote job creation and growth could help generate stability in the Middle East.

“The miracle of economic success in China lies exactly in its focus on economic issues,” he says. “So why can’t China try to apply this model or policy to other regions? Of course, it’s a bit different here, but this could be another approach to Israel-Palestine. If you look at the unemployment rate in Gaza, it’s around 40 percent and in the West Bank around 23 percent. So I think if China could help Palestine as, say, a kind of job creator that would also help Israel and that in the long run could help the peace process.”

But while Zhang sees China as eventually playing a role in the Middle East, including perhaps in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he doesn’t see it getting too deeply involved at present. What Zhang does see happening more immediately, though, is coordination between China and the US on Middle East policy.

“The US is now less dependent on the Middle East while China’s need are becoming more important so it needs stability,” he says. “For a long time China has taken a free ride in the sense that the US has a military presence and has kept the region stable, but the US can be expected to reduce its presence. That is not good for China, and China will have to do something.”

WHILE THERE appears to be a consensus that China’s rapidly growing energy needs mean it will need to nurture a stable environment and adopt a more proactive foreign policy in the region, not everyone shares Biran’s far reaching vision of a Pax Sinica.

“Surging Chinese demand for energy resources over the next several decades will make their more prominent role in the Middle East inevitable. China is now second only to the United States in consumption and importation of oil, a trend that will only continue as the Chinese continue to urbanize their population and bring millions more cars on line. No country can afford to remain uninterested in a region that it will be so dependent upon,” says Bradley Bosserman, a foreign policy analyst and director of the Middle East program at the NDN New Policy Institute, a center-left Washington think tank.

Bosserman, however, cautions that there has been consistent divergence between the US and China on regional issues, from Iran to Syria and elsewhere. “While a peaceful and agreed-upon settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute would contribute to regional stability, China has never shown much interest in investing diplomatic energy... in other parts of the world where it had economic interests.”

He points to the potential lessons to be learned from China’s engagement in Africa, and warns that while the optimists may believe that China’s growing energy interdependence with the Middle East will lead to Beijing becoming more interested in productive diplomatic engagement, its record in Africa gives “little indication that it will pursue that path.”

“For the past half-century,” says Bosserman, “China’s policy of non-interference has provided capital and investment to corrupt governments who have been more than happy to avoid the complicated work of economic and political reform that is often demanded by the United States and Europe. Throughout Africa, China has consistently valued preferential trading terms, lopsided leasing deals, and short-term profits over the kinds of lasting investments in good governance, political reconciliation, and poverty alleviation that lay the groundwork for real stability. It seems more likely that it is that model that they will try to export to the Middle East rather than some other idealized version.”

Yitzhak Shichor, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who specializes in China’s Middle East policy and international energy relations, agrees that the powers have a mutual interest in stability and cooperation in the region. “They have to regulate or strangulate,” he says. “The great powers will have to divide their different spheres of influence, especially energy, otherwise there will be confrontation.

Shichor sees China’s current objectives in the Middle East as “being friends with everybody, maintaining stability in the region, providing for the free flow of oil and of Chinese exports, and to avoid as far as possible regional conflicts and confrontations.” But he too is skeptical about the chances of China being able to bring about a Middle East peace deal even if it were willing to involve itself.

“If there is going to be a change in the international energy markets and the US is no longer going to be dependent on Saudi oil while China becomes even more dependent on Saudi oil, then theoretically there could be some kind of common understanding between China and the US that stability in the Middle East is very important and there might be some kind of [joint] effort to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but I’m a little skeptical about that. I don’t see this change, and I don’t see the relationship of oil and the Arab-Israeli conflict, there are so many other deep roots to the conflict. I don’t think this is going to make a real change.”

In the face of that skepticism, Biran is undeterred: “Common interests can create miracles. Today, what I am saying may sound utopian or an unrealistic dream. But it can come true if this new agenda is placed in the political arena.”

A self-made man with a history of pulling off the impossible, and the author of a book on “How to change the world one idea at a time” he concludes, “I can testify that opportunities appear and disappear in a very short time.”

February 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenzil

Is this dam viewed as a NATO asset and or Turkey Asset, ... and what is its influence on Iraq as a controlling mechanism that influence their Agriculture, Industry and maybe oil production, ....

How can the dam be used as a Regional intergration asset for all, ...

http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/06/dam-threatens-turkeys-past-and-future/

Dam Threatens Turkey’s Past and Future
Analysis by Jay Cassano Reprint | | Print | Send by email
The village of Hasankeyf lies above the Tigris River, whose flow has carved out rock formations over the course of millenia. Credit: Jay Cassano/IPS

The village of Hasankeyf lies above the Tigris River, whose flow has carved out rock formations over the course of millenia. Credit: Jay Cassano/IPS

HASANKEYF, Turkey, Jun 10 2012 (IPS) - Hasankeyf, a small village in southeastern Turkey, has been under threat for 15 years. Home to approximately 3,000 people, the site is one of the oldest continuously inhabited human settlements, with an archaeological record going back at least 9,500 years.

Now, the Ilisu Dam – part of a massive hydroelectric project undertaken by the State Hydraulic Works – will flood Hasankeyf and the surrounding region, effectively washing away millennia of history.

In addition to destroying a historical site, which includes vestiges of every empire that ever inhabited Mesopotamia, the dam will also cause immense ecological harm to the Tigris River valley.

Derya Engin, who staffs the Hasankeyf office of the Nature Society, a Turkish NGO, told IPS that numerous endangered species will lose their habitat if the dam is built.

“The Tigris is the only untouched river ecosystem in Turkey and it is vital that it remain that way,” she warned. “It is well-known that dams dramatically change the climate of entire regions. This dam will destroy the habitats of fish, birds, and plant life, some of which are unique to the Tigris valley.”

Construction of the dam began in earnest in 2008, but plans for its implementation date back even further.

The dam was originally conceived in the 1950s as part of a plan, called the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), intended to develop the infrastructure of largely rural and Kurdish southeastern Turkey. Since 1997, several European finance consortia have attempted to fund the project, only to withdraw support before anything concrete materialised.

The European banks and companies pulled out in large part due to massive solidarity campaigns against the dam in their respective home countries. In 2009, the German, Austrian and Swiss governments revoked the export credit guarantees to the final consortium because the Turkish government failed to meet the ecological, social, and cultural heritage standards set by the World Bank.

For a while, activists in Turkey and throughout Europe believed they had won the fight and that construction of the dam would stop. To their surprise, construction is continuing to this day.

It was later revealed that the Turkish government had quietly secured funding from two of the country’s largest private banks, Akbank and Garanti, making the project still viable.

Water Wars

The Turkish government’s reasons for pressing ahead with the controversial project are not what one might expect. Projections place the amount of hydroelectric power the dam will produce at less than 2 percent of Turkey’s total energy needs. Not an entirely insignificant amount but certainly, according to various sources, not enough to justify the destruction of an entire ecosystem, invaluable cultural heritage, and the livelihoods of several thousand people.

The Turkish government has openly proclaimed that the main function of the dam system is to bolster the country’s counter-insurgency strategy against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which mobilises from the mountainous Iraqi-Turkish border. Together, the strategically placed dams created by GAP will form a massive wall of water close to Turkey’s border with Iraq.

Having flown through the Hasankeyf for millenia, the Tigris has created a vast canyon topography that is not only visually spectacular but also provides necessary cover for militants. In addition to raising the water level of the Tigris, flooding from Ilisu Dam will spill over into nearby canyons that are currently dry.

Related IPS Articles

Dam Project in Turkey Breeds Controversy
TURKEY-ENVIRONMENT: New Industries Threaten Endangered Species
DEVELOPMENT-TURKEY: Dam Floods Historic Monuments

With canyons filled and massive lakes created where rivers once flowed, the terrain will become impassable by foot.

Furthermore, the effects of the dam will extend beyond Hasankeyf, well across national borders. By virtue of being upstream from Iraq and Syria on both the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, Turkey effectively controls the flow of water southward.

With the Euphrates already heavily dammed, the Syrian and Iraqi governments have raised serious concerns about dam projects on the Tigris. Twice the region has been on the verge of water wars, once in 1975 and again in 1990. Restricting water flow from the Tigris could prove to be a tipping point in the incendiary region.

Activists believe that, ultimately, the dam will turn water into a political tool both inside and outside Turkey’s borders. “We know that the dam is really about security,” Mehmet İpek, a young local activist, told IPS.

Down the road, Mehmet Ali, a shopkeeper selling tourist souvenirs, lamented the imminent loss of his home. “They are condemning a place like this, with no equal in the world, for a dam that will only operate for 50 years.”

An invaluable site

Today there is little recourse left to stop construction. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) could theoretically put a hold on the project. A case was brought before the court in 2006 but rejected on the grounds that the ECHR protects human rights, not cultural heritage, ignoring the approximately 35,000 people who will all be forced to give up their way of life if the dam is constructed.

A new case is being submitted to the ECHR after a Turkish regional court rejected it this week. Locals hope that it will work, but are not deceiving themselves. They have learned from experience how determined the state is to continue with the project.

Ömer Güzel, a shop owner and local activist in Hasankeyf, told IPS that at one point the villagers held protests every week. “It didn’t accomplish anything,” he said. “In the end the dam is still being built right now.”

The government has kept the construction site, 16 kilometres downstream from Hasankeyf, under heavy security. However, sources with access to the site, who spoke to IPS on the condition of anonymity, claim that the dam is already half completed.

There is still a chance that the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) might list the area as a World Heritage site, effectively guaranteeing its protection.

To qualify for World Heritage status, a site must meet one of 10 criteria for outstanding universal value in an area of cultural or natural significance. Hasankeyf, as the only site in the world that meets nine of the 10 criteria, is an exceptional candidate for inclusion.

Unfortunately, that fact alone is not enough to be listed. “In order to be included as a World Heritage site, the country in which the site is located must submit an application to UNESCO. The Turkish government has not done this,” Engin explained.

A UNESCO delegation previously visited Hasankeyf and, upon taking stock of the area, urged the Turkish government to apply. The implication was that if Turkey applied, Hasankeyf would be accepted.

“But the government does not want to protect this area, so why would they apply? The dam project is too important to the state,” Engin pointed out.

(END)

February 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenzil

As they say more upstream?


http://www.allaboutturkey.com/euphrates.htm

Turkey's rivers > Euphrates river
Euphrates River

Ataturk dam on Euphrates riverThe Euphrates river (Firat in Turkish) rises from Eastern Anatolia, flows generally southward through southeastern Turkey around Sanliurfa, Adiyaman and Gaziantep provinces, goes across the border into Syria and Iraq passing from Mesopotamia, and empties into the Persian Gulf in Basra after joining with the Tigris river in Shatt al-Arab. Its total lenght is approximately 2.800 km (1.740 mi), out of which 971 km (603 mi) are in Turkey. In addition to its main watercourse, the Euphrates River has two headwaters named as Karasu and Murad (ancient Arsanias) rivers which join somewhere near Keban district of Elazig province, where stands the Keban Dam as one of the biggest in Turkey (210 m - 689 ft high) built between 1965-1975. Another big dam is Karakaya (173 m - 568 ft high) which was opened in 1987 within GAP Project, and other dams are Birecik and Karkamis. But the largest dam of Turkey in size, and one of the biggest dams in the world, is Ataturk Dam which is also built on the Euphrates river near Sanliurfa province between 1983-1992; it's 169 m (554 ft) high. All of these dams were constructed to provide hydroelectric power to this region of Turkey, provide water for irrigation, and help with flood control. These dams have very large and distinct reservoirs as well. The water from the Ataturk Dam is passing through two parallel 7,62 m (25 ft) wide and 26,4 km (16,4 mi) long Urfa tunnels and used for the irrigation of the agricultural fields in Urfa-Harran, Mardin-Ceylanpinar, Siverek-Hilvan, and upper Mardin areas.

Besides Karasu and Murat, other tributaries of the Euphrates are Tohma, Peri, Calti and Munzur rivers. Average elevations along the Euphrates range from 760 m (2.500 ft) for the lowlands to more than 1.500 m (5.000 ft) for the plateaus and mountains. Its water regime depends heavily upon winter rains and Spring snowmelt in the mountains; it grows between March-June when the snow in the mountains melt, and reduces its water flow between July-January when there isn't much rain due to the typical continental subtropical climate (hot and dry summers, cold and snowy winters).

The agriculture along the Euphrates holds an important part in the economy of the region, which comes to a halt during the winter because of freezing temperatures and snow. Fishing is another important income for the locals living around the Euphrates. As for the fish and other animals in the river and marshes, we can count the carp, barbels, catfish, spiny eel, frogs, toads and turtles. Several plants grow near the rivers in the region, such as oak, pistachio, ash forests, cattail, mardi reed and other reeds, camel thorn, prosopis, willow, popler, date palm, and some wildflowers.

Many ancient cities flourished on the banks of Euphrates river during the Hittite and Urartu periods, Zeugma city was one of them. The Euphrates, such as Tigris, is a biblical river as well. It was known as Perat and mentioned in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 2:10-14) as one of the four rivers branching off the river flowing out of the Garden of Eden. These four rivers were Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel (Tigris) and Perat (Euphrates).

February 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenzil

http://www.policymic.com/articles/30337/iraq-war-anniversary-bombing-explosions-rip-through-capital-on-10-year-anniversary

Iraq War Anniversary Bombing: Explosions Rip Through Capital on 10-Year Anniversary

Andrea Ayres-Deets

Iraq War Anniversary Bombing Explosions Rip Through Capital on 10 Year Anniversary

A dozen car bombs and suicide blasts went off in coordinated attacks this morning at various Shi’ite districts around Baghdad. The attacks killed 56 people and injured 221 others on the tenth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Sunni Islamist insurgents with links to al Qaeda have vowed to step up attacks on Shi’ite targets in an attempt to spur sectarian violence and undermine Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The bombings serve as a stark reminder of the continued cost of this war.

The attacks happened in busy markets and popular dining establishments around 8 a.m. One of the more deadly attacks occurred near the fortified Green Zone which is home to major government offices and embassies. Though there has been no official claim of responsibility, the Islamic Sate of Iraq has carried out several other high profile attacks. The group is attempting to regain control of ground lost during the U.S.-led occupation. Last week the group claimed responsibility for the killing of 51 Syrian soldiers who had sought refuge inside of Iraq.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shia-led government announced Tuesday that it would postpone provincial elections in two provinces by up to six months due to security concerns. 12 other provinces will go ahead with their elections on April 20. These elections mark the first elections to be held in Iraq in three years. The polls in Anbar province and Nineveh province have been delayed due to increased violence. According to Ali Mussawi, a spokesman for the premier, candidates there have been threatened and killed. Other political candidates in various other provinces have also been threatened or killed. Attacks are likely to continue as election day approaches.

The political crisis has intensified since the U.S. troops left Iraq in 2011. The crisis in Syria, which borders Iraq, threatens to spill over. Security officials believe that al Qaeda is regrouping in the Anbar province. While violence is nothing like it was during the peak of the insurgency in 2006-2007, Iraq is still a country on the brink. Sunni and Kurdish critics of the Maliki government feel powerless against the Shia-led government. A government who, for many, has an uncomfortably close relationship to Washington.

Iraq still struggles with insurgents and the threat of sectarian violence is ever-looming. 200 Iraqis died in violent attacks in February alone. Without a strong U.S. military force, the buffer that once existed is gone. As election day draws near, this fragile democracy will be tested and we will all be reminded of the continued toll this war has had on the people of Iraq.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenzil

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