Sometimes oil and water do mix. In Iraq, they’ve formed an intoxicating, volatile brew that, combined with imperialism (straight up, no chaser), has led White House Resident Bush and his right-wing band of bellicose brigands on a drunken orgy of pillage and murder as they toss us lies over their shoulders to justify their rampage.
Many understand that the U.S. assault on Iraq is about spreading the power of U.S. monopolies and seizing oil for U.S. corporations, in one of imperialism’s most criminally ruthless moments. After all, Iraq has what may be the largest oil reserves in the world. There’s one other thing Iraq has in abundance: water.
Iraq has an extraordinary river system, the most extensive in the Middle East. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers, combined with the Greater Zab and Lesser Zab rivers in northern Iraq, make Iraq a most valuable piece of property in the plans of the imperialist looters. The Greater Zab, 265 miles long, rises in southeast Turkey and flows south through Iraq to the Tigris. The Lesser Zab, 250 miles long, rises in northwest Iran and flows southwest through Iraq to the Tigris. Both rivers are used extensively for irrigation, flood control on the Tigris, and hydroelectricity.
Added to the oil, the water may be the additional attraction that forced the bandits to take the gloves off, flout all international law, and go for broke (mass murder). Dating from around the sixth century A.D., when the area now known as Iraq was threaded with irrigation works, Iraq’s water system has been of tremendous value to the people in the region.
In the Middle East, as in all the world, water is a liquid far more valuable and necessary to human life than oil. In a Jan. 31, 2003, New York Times article Stephen Pelletiere, a senior CIA analyst on Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war and a retired Army War College professor, noted plans for a so-called “Peace Pipeline.” The Peace Pipeline that was being planned for Iraq by the U.S. in the 1990s “would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel.” Plans for the Peace Pipeline were stalled because of what Pelletiere referred to as “Iraqi intransigence.” With the Iraqi people now “freed” by the imperialists, they will be freed of the burden of controlling their own water resources so those resources may profit their invaders.
Keeping in mind recent reports of water privatization schemes put forward by the capitalists, and the fightback of the world’s people against that privatization, the value of Iraq’s water system and rivers is monumental. Getting an Iraqi government in place that will agree to water privatization schemes will be a major boon to U.S. imperialist aims. It must seem like a river of untold riches to the capitalists, even as the people whose water it is will be forced to pay barbaric rates for it. At the same time, the waters of the Tigris, Euphrates, Greater Zab and Lesser Zab rivers will be diverted to help support the right-wing Israeli government and its oppression of the Palestinian people.
Coincidentally, the 1988 battle between Iraq and Iran in Halabja (in which more than 5,000 Kurdish people were killed after the use of chemical weapons by both Iran and Iraq) was fought in great part over the Darbandikhan dam in Iraq’s Kurdish area. The Darbandikhan dam was built by Iraq before the Persian Gulf war and is the largest of an impressive system of dams and river control projects. Pelletiere states, “It was this dam the Iranians were aiming to take control of when they seized Halabja.”
A clear point that most of the rational people in the world would agree on at this moment is that the oil and the water belong to the Iraqi people. They alone must govern how those national assets will be used.
Or, to paraphrase, render unto the Iraqi people that which belongs to the Iraqi people.
Barbara Jean Hope is a reader in Philadelphia. She can be reached at Bjhope2000@cs.com