An impending threat to national security could emerge sooner rather than later if serious measures are not taken to address Iraq’s water shortages. Mesopotamia, the land of the Euphrates and Tigris, is where some of the oldest and most notable empires built the Cradle of Civilisation. Thousands of years later, like many across the Middle East and North Africa, these rivers are drying up at an alarming rate alongside hopes for some peace in this beleaguered region of the world.
The Euphrates and Tigris account for much of Iraq’s surface water supply and a perfect storm of decades of mismanagement due to endless wars and corruption, population growth, the rapacity of neighbouring countries and worsening impact of climate change has left Iraq in a very vulnerable position when it comes to the most essential element of life.
The threats posed to Iraq’s national security by the inevitable droughts are innumerable, with the most obvious being famine, epidemics of water-borne diseases due to contamination and socio-economic instability leading to violence and extremism. On the economic front, agriculture has been billed as one of Iraq’s most promising sectors in the struggle for economic diversification. Facing a compounding water shortage, that idea could sadly be stillborn.