Water crisis salts the earth in Iraq’s long-neglected south

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This aerial photo shows a dry canal full of salt in the area of Siba in Basra, 550 km southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP/Nabil Al-Jurani)
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Farmer Qassim Sabaan Ali, 62, a farmer shows dead figs in the area of Siba in Basra, 550 km southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP/Nabil Al-Jurani)
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Qassim Sabaan Ali, 62, stands on on his dry farm caused by high salinity levels in the area of Siba in Basra, 550 km southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq, (AP/Nabil Al-Jurani)
Updated 02 August 2018
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Water crisis salts the earth in Iraq’s long-neglected south

  • Iraq’s southern province of Basra was once dubbed the “Venice of the East” because of its many canals
  • Upstream dams in Turkey, Syria and Iran have shrunk the rivers and their tributaries

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s southern province of Basra was once dubbed the “Venice of the East” because of its many canals. Iraq’s two rivers — the Tigris and the Euphrates — have nourished civilizations since antiquity.
But the region is now suffering from a water crisis so severe that once-fertile land has been turned into desert and tap water is too salty and polluted even for washing.
Upstream dams in Turkey, Syria and Iran have shrunk the rivers and their tributaries, seasonal rainfall has dropped and infrastructure has fallen into disrepair.
The result is an acute lack of freshwater that has allowed a salty tide from the nearby Arabian Gulf to advance north and seep into once-lush farmland.
The crisis has also contributed to violent protests across the oil-rich region last month.


Israeli air strikes target Gaza Strip ‘terror targets’ after rocket fire

Updated 46 min 58 sec ago
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Israeli air strikes target Gaza Strip ‘terror targets’ after rocket fire

GAZA STRIP: Israel’s military said it was carrying out air strikes “throughout the Gaza Strip” to strike “terror targets” on Monday after a barrage of mortar and rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave toward its territory wounded six people.

A number of rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, while Israel’s army said an Israeli bus was hit by fire from the Palestinian enclave.

Israeli medics say a 19-year-old man was critically wounded in the attack, the man apparently sustained the wounds in a mortar attack from Gaza that struck the bus. Black smoke could be seen billowing into the air from the area of the mortar strike.

A picture taken from the Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018 shows missiles being launched toward Israel. (AFP)

The flare-up comes after a clash that erupted during an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip late on Sunday that killed eight people, including an Israeli officer.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, vowed revenge for the attack and claimed to fire mortars and rockets from Gaza.

A picture taken from the Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018 shows missiles being launched toward Israel. A number of rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel. (AFP)

The renewed violence was threatening to derail weeks of efforts to end unrest along the Gaza-Israel border.

The dead from the incident late Sunday included an Israeli army officer and a local commander for Hamas's armed wing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris and rushed home as tensions rose.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and recent unrest has raised fears of a fourth.