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The Mesopotamian Marshes Are Disappearing, Again

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From the start of last summer until late October, more than 2,000 families were forced to abandon their homes due to the retreating marshlands, according to the FAO’s El-Hajj Hassan. Some of the displaced have moved to areas of marshland that still have water, while others have abandoned their traditional way of life and moved to cities like Basra or Baghdad.

Tensions among those who remain in the marshes are rising, and security consultants believe that water scarcity, and specifically the disappearance of the marshlands, could affect national security. According to Eimear Hennessy, a former risk analyst for G4S Consulting, “The thousands of people that have been uprooted and impoverished by the ongoing crisis in the Mesopotamian Marshes are likely to be more susceptible to recruitment by non-state actors”—militias and terrorist groups—“that make promises of an attractive future.”

According to Nature Iraq, the recent drying of the marshes has triggered a collapse in wildlife diversity, with populations of Binni, a brownish-gold fish highly prized by Marsh Arabs,…

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