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Catastrophic Drought Threatens Iraq as Major Dams in Surrounding Countries Cut off Water to Its Great Rivers

Iraq after Isis: After decades of war – including the last battle against Isis – Iraq is in danger of losing the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. In the first part of a new series, Patrick Cockburn reports that as Turkey, Syria and Iran dam its rivers, parts of the country are turning into desert

“I once rescued a friend from drowning when he was swept away by the force of the current as we were swimming in the Diyala river,” says Qasim Sabti, a painter and gallery owner in Baghdad. 

“That was 50 years ago,” he recalls. “I went back there recently and the water in the Diyala is so shallow today that a man could walk across it with his dog.” 

The rivers of Iraq, above all the Tigris and Euphrates, are drying up. The country is becoming more arid, and desertification is eating into the limited amount of agricultural land.

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