Sonic Puke
It's all fun and games until somebody pokes out an eye

4/18/2003

Wetlands destroyed by Hussein could thrive again
The war in Iraq is about, The environment?

There could be an unexpected beneficiary of the war in Iraq: the environment.

More specifically, the late, great Mesopotamian marshes -- a decade ago, the largest wetland by far in the Middle East, and a site considered by many religious scholars as the inspiration for the Garden of Eden in the Bible and Koran.

But Hussein considered the swamps a haven for Shiite opponents of his regime. So in the mid-1990s, he drained the marshes, broadcast pesticides to kill the fish and wildlife, and attacked the villages of the ma'dan. Today, the once verdant network of reed beds and waterways is mostly a sere and lifeless plain.

"Everyone is harping about Saddam's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction," said Alwash, "but here he used water as a mass destruction weapon. He used it to destroy a culture that has lasted 5,000 years. And I'm afraid it has made me somewhat cynical that the international community stood by and did nothing while it was happening."

The marshes were an integral part of the Iraqi culture and collective psyche, said Alwash, and their loss is an emotional blow that is hard for outsiders to understand

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