from the tell-me-of-the-waters-of-your-home-world-Usul dept.
Water has long played a role in armed struggle, from the Allied bombing of German dams during World War II to Saddam Hussein’s draining of Iraq’s southern marshes in the 1990s to punish residents for an anti-government rebellion. Now Erin Cunningham reports in the Washington Post that Islamic State militants are increasingly using water as a weapon, cutting off supplies to villages resisting their rule and pressing to expand their control over the country’s water infrastructure. The Islamic State “understands how powerful water is as a tool, and they are not afraid to use it,” said Michael Stephens. "A lot of effort has been expended to control resources in Iraq in a way not seen in other conflicts."
The White House was so alarmed in August when Islamic State fighters briefly seized the Mosul Dam — located on the Tigris River that runs through Baghdad — that it backed a major operation by Iraqi and Kurdish forces to wrest it back. “If that dam was breached, it could have proven catastrophic, with floods that would have threatened the lives of thousands of civilians and endangered our embassy compound in Baghdad,” said Obama. Last month, the Islamic State used its control of the Sudur mini-dam north of Baghdad to cut off water to Balad Ruz, a predominantly Shiite area of Diyala province. According to the town’s mayor, the militants lined the roads to the dam with improvised explosive devices, and the government was forced to hire trucks to bring potable water to the residents. “They can threaten many parts of the country if they control the water,” says Abdul Majid Satar. "They want to control it at any price."