Friday, October 15, 2010

Of Drought and War

"The collapse of farmlands here — which is as much a matter of human mismanagement as of drought — has become a dire economic challenge and a rising security concern for the Syrian and Iraqi governments, which are growing far more dependent on other countries for food and water. Syria, which once prided itself on its self-sufficiency and even exported wheat, is now quietly importing it in ever larger amounts. The country’s total water resources dropped by half between 2002 and 2008, partly through waste and overuse, scientists and water engineers say.
For Syria, which is running out of oil reserves and struggling to draw foreign investment, the farming crisis is an added vulnerability in part because it is taking place in the area where its restive Kurdish minority is centered. Iraq, devastated by war, is now facing a water crisis in both the north and the south that may be unprecedented in its history. Both countries have complained about reduced flow on the Euphrates, thanks to massive upriver dam projects in Turkey that are likely to generate more tension as the water crisis worsens."
This is the article in the NYT from which the "ironic" quote was extracted. When RW interviewed me, I talked to him for about an hour, and I insisted on the following:
1. Droughts are recurrent events in this region and they have always resulted in population displacement, which can be temporary. This is what needs to be addressed and prevented. As a matter of fact, Syria has managed its farm sector much better than most neighboring countries, given its ecological limitations.
2. The war in Iraq is the war by the US on the Iraqi people and land, starting with the embargo and stil going on. Lets call things by their names. The scale of the destruction brought about by the US onto Iraq, and especially its food sector, is unmatched by any climatic event. And putting Iraq's food sector into the hands of US based corporations, as Paul Bremer did, will only make Iraq more reliant on foreign inputs for its food and farming.
I also told him that the title of my book is: "The Empty Breadbasket". But he did not quote this.
And note the following post: times of drought

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