Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Climate change continues to threaten all life while politicians dither, Nouri al-Maliki continues to deny that it's his voice on the leaked recordings, and much more.
Record-breaking heat has killed over 1,000 people in Western Europe over the past week, while firefighters battle to contain blazes scorching swathes of three countries amid a worsening climate emergency, officials said this weekend.
El País reports heat killed 360 people in Spain between July 10 and July 15. This follows the heat-related deaths of more than 800 people last month, according to the Spanish government's Carlos III Health Institute. Madrid-Barajas International Airport recorded an all-time high temperature of 108°F Thursday, while some Spanish municipalities registered highs of 110°F to 113°F.
One 60-year-old Madrid sanitation worker collapsed in the middle of the street while working Friday. The man was rushed to the hospital with a body temperature of over 106°F and died of heat stroke. He was one of 123 people who suffered heat-related deaths Friday in Spain.
In drought-ravaged Portugal, where temperatures soared to over 116° in Pinhão on Friday, the Health Ministry said Saturday that 659 people, most of them elderly, have died from heat-related causes over the past week.
Climate is effecting everyone. In the US, the phrase being tossed around currently is "heat apocalypse." Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:
With large swaths of the planet currently in the grips of hellish, record-shattering heatwaves and devastating wildfires, U.S. President Joe Biden is reportedly considering declaring a national climate emergency this week as a senator with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry continues to obstruct much-needed renewable energy spending.
Biden's plans for a possible emergency declaration, first reported late Monday by the Washington Post, come as the White House is facing mounting pressure to take unilateral climate action as its agenda remains stalled in the upper chamber of Congress, hampering U.S. efforts to rein in planet-warming carbon emissions as temperatures soar worldwide.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a coal profiteer who has received more money from the oil and gas industry than any other member of Congress this election cycle, reportedly told Democratic leaders in a closed-door meeting last week that he would not support any new green energy spending. Manchin's decision threw into serious doubt the majority party's chances of approving key climate investments ahead of the November midterms.
"Iraq is at the frontlines of the climate crisis, with temperatures rising twice as fast as the global average. It’s also a major oil producer and the world’s second largest offender of gas flaring, a process that releases CO2," THE NEWSHOUR (PBS) noted back in January. In Iraq, climate change means dust storms have increased in frequency, drought is taking place, agriculture sector is impacted and much more. The World Bank explains, "Impacts from the climate change, such as increases in temperatures and decreases in rain, are expected to effect Iraq’s water resources, the agriculture sector, its biodiversity, and the health sector."
A series of dramatic events in the last six months brought home the reality, and dangers, of climate change to the Iraqi public. Nine dust storms swept through the country in a period of only eight weeks, leading to the closure of government offices and airports, stifling economic activity, and hospitalising thousands of people. Cells of the Islamic State group (ISIS) took advantage of the reduced visibility caused by the storms to launch attacks on Iraqi security forces.
At the start of 2022, the news that Lake Sawa in Muthanna province had completely dried up led to an outpouring of grief and nostalgia as local people and commentators lamented the impact on livelihoods and on the identity of the province. Further alarming stories have followed about critically low water levels in Lake Hamrin in Diyala province and about increasing pollution in Lake Razzaz in Karbala province.
And back in 2018, water quality in Basra declined substantially as rising water levels in the Persian Gulf combined with reduced water flows from upstream rivers and diminished rainfall to increase salinity in the city’s Shatt al-Arab river. This caused the hospitalisation of close to 120,000 people, and led to thousands of citizens joining mass protests against local and federal government authorities. Security forces and politically affiliated armed groups responded with violence, killing at least 31 people and injuring hundreds of others. The government’s poor handling of the crisis ended prime minister Haidar al-Abadi’s bid for a second term in office, damaged the legitimacy of state institutions, and enabled armed groups to launch a campaign of targeted assassinations against activists and protesters.
Such events have finally brought the issue of climate change into Iraq’s political debate – but the country’s leaders are yet to take meaningful action. This is despite the fact that the medium- and long-term outlook for Iraq and climate impacts is extremely serious. In 2019, a UN report classed Iraq as the world’s fifth most vulnerable country in terms of availability of water and food, and exposure to extreme temperatures. Temperatures in the country are increasing up to seven times faster than the global average, while annual rainfall is predicted to decrease by 9 per cent by 2050. At the same time, the country faces a rate of population growth that is twice the global average, at 2.25 per cent a year; its population is set to reach 50 million by 2030 and 70 million by 2050.
These dynamics are driving significant rural-to-urban migration, placing enormous pressure on limited services and employment opportunities in urban areas, triggering social unrest, and fuelling inter-provincial and inter-tribal competition and conflict. In some cases they have enabled extremist groups to gain footholds in impoverished rural areas. Iraq’s inadequate governance, anaemic private sector, and consequent lack of foreign direct investment hinders the country from taking more concerted action to address both the causes and effects of climate change. Its poor internal governance also leads to wasteful water management, placing it on a weaker footing vis-à-vis upstream countries Turkey and Iran, which are building dams that worsen the situation in Iraq.
Iraq urgently needs to agree, and allocate significant funding towards, a working climate action policy agenda. Europeans can offer their support in a number of ways – certainly on the technical front, but also by persuading Iraq’s political leaders of the benefits of such an agenda not only for addressing the impacts of the changing climate but also for improving internal governance and diversifying the country’s economy.
Today, MENAFN reports:
Iraq has urged Turkey to allow more water to flow into the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers due to the Arab nation's long-standing water deficit in
Mesopotamia, sparking a water conflict between the two neighboring
According to an Iraqi statement, Iraq's Water Resources Minister Mehdi al-Hamdani has asked Turkey's president's special envoy for Iraq, Veysel Eroglu, to enhance "quantities of water arriving in Iraq through the Tigris and Euphrates."
Hamdani informed Eroglu via video-conference to urge Turkish officials “to re-examine the amounts of water released, in order to allow Iraq to overcome the current water shortage," it noted.
Eroglu also stated he would pass on the request to water authorities in Ankara to "increase the amounts of water released in the coming days, according to (Turkey's) available reserves", the announcement claimed.
On the issue of rural-to-urban migration, yesterday RUDAW reported:
Three hundred houses in a village in Erbil province’s Shamamk district
have not had water for a month. Around fifteen houses are also
reportedly listed for sale as residents are fed up of the shortages.
Kafia Ali, a resident of the village, put a water hose in a 20-liter bottle in an attempt to fill it. She has already filled three liters in two hours and has to buy water every two days.
Another resident, moved his family to his father’s house because of the water supply shortages.
“The water should be available for us now, but there is no water,” Ibrahim Yousif, a local resident, told Rudaw’s Farhad Dolamari on Friday.
“It has been three days since I sent my wife and kids to my father’s house because there is no water,” he added.
At the door of almost every house in the village, you see a row of water bottles.
While the government does little, others take note. Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) reports:
Artist Ziyad Jassam went to great efforts to find the perfect location in one of Baghdad’s suburbs to create his latest landscape painting.
Everything has changed in the south-east district of Arab Jibour, once home to lush green orchards of palm trees and fruit, that lies to the west of the Tigris.
“I kept driving around looking for a green space but unfortunately I found only the ruins of an old orchard,” Jassam, who was looking for a scene to paint for a forthcoming exhibition, told The National.
“This new reality is so painful."
At the annual Iraqi Landscape Exhibition, local artists are lamenting the loss of so much nature, expressing concern about the climate crisis which imperils Iraq today, making it the fifth-most vulnerable country to the rapid warming of the world.
No government is really addressing climate change at the present. Iraq has the excuse that it doesn't have a real government currently. Elections were held October 10th. Despite that fact, Iraq has still not come up with a new prime minister or president.
And, over the weekend, a new roadblock appeared to emerge. AFP reported:
The Iraqi political scene has been ablaze for the past 72 hours due to the emergence of recordings attributed to Nuri al-Maliki, the ex-Iraqi PM, in which he appears to be criticising and insulting Moqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq's strongest Shiite political figures whose faction won big in the 2021 general parliamentary election.
“The issue is that there is a British project aiming to put Moqtada in control of the Shia and Iraq, then they would kill him and give Iraq to the Sunnis. The issue is not al-Maliki [myself], I can just leave and take refuge in the house of Malek and have 2000 fighters protecting me, no one will be able to get to me. That project exists, but I am fighting it, and it is to be fought politically and militarily,” said Nuri al-Maliki about his longtime political rival, Moqtada al-Sadr, in a leaked recording.
“Iran helped al-Sadr, to make him a new Nasrallah [Lebanese Hezbollah chief] in Iraq”, he continued in his tirade against the Shiite leader. “Moqtada is a murderer, how many did he kill in Baghdad? The kidnappings, the car bombs, he is not a master, he is a coward, a traitor, an ignorant who knows nothing (…) I know the Sadrists, I fought them in Basra, Karbala and Baghdad, we had no weapons and the Iranians had given them advanced missiles and we still won,” he said of al-Sadr and his followers.
Nuri al-Maliki, leader of the Shiite party known as the State of Law Coalition and one of the leaders of the Coordination Framework, a Shiite coalition currently holding parliamentary majority, denied the veracity of the recordings via Twitter. He said that the recordings, released on social media by journalist Ali Fadel, were fake. Moqtada al-Sadr, for his part, said that the recordings mean nothing.
Nouri al-Maliki. A major player in Iraq. One that the press ignored in the lead up to the October 10th election -- the western press ignored. That pleased the US State Dept but don't pretend it was journalism. They really continue to ignore him.
Saturday, we observed, "Recordings featuring supposedly Nouri aren't being covered by THE WASHINGTON POST, THE NEW YORK TIMES, MCCLATCHY . . . go down the list. It's a story, a rather major story and all over Arabic social media. Just not covered by US outlets." That remains true all these days later.
In a series of Tweets, Tammus Intel covered the recording.
Today, Riham Darwish (ALBAWABA) reports:
The audio leaks that have stirred much debate in Iraq have been preserved as dangerous ones that might interrupt the country's hardly stable political scene, especially since it features major political plans that could turn into violent clashes between followers of both political leaders.
In the five audio excerpts leaked accounting for nearly 15 minutes of conversation, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is believed to criticize the Shia scholar, politician, and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who has been leading the Sadrist Movement in recent years.
Nouri al-Maliki was the third and longest-serving Prime Minister of Iraq following the US invasion and the toppling of Saddam Hussien in 2003.
Among statements that have driven major reactions in Iraq was Nouri al-Maliki's description of Muqtada al-Sadr as "a bloodthirsty murderer" who is "spiteful". "He is also a coward who robbed the whole country", Nouri al-Maliki adds.
Pledging to not "keep the Shia and Iraq in the hands of Moqtada al-Sadr", the Shia politician claims that his country "is on the verge of a devastating war from which no one will survive except by defeating Muqtada al-Sadr and his political allies".
Never one to skip the drama, Miss Moqtada al-Sadr has waded in. ASHARQ AL-AWSAT notes:
Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, head of the Sadrist movement, called on Iraqi former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to turn himself over to the judiciary in wake of his explosive and damning voice recordings.
Known as the “Maliki WikiLeaks,” the recordings of the former premier include threats to Sadr and sharp criticism of the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Sadr had initially dismissed the recordings, calling on his supporters to do the same, saying he had “no regard” for Maliki.
Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) adds, "Sadr, who initially asked his supporters to dismiss the recordings, strongly fired back in a Twitter statement on Monday, asking all parliamentary bloc leaders who are allied with Maliki to denounce the allegations made against him, and above all to reject the statements made in the recordings against the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)."
The following sites updated: