American Elephants

Remember the Marsh Arabs of Iraq and Their Aquatic World. by The Elephant's Child

Do you remember the strange aquatic world  of the Marsh Arabs in Southern Iraq, said by Biblical scholars to be the site of the Garden of Eden, or the cradle of civilization?  The Mesopotamians settled in the fertile region where the Tigris river and the Euphrates meet in the fifth century B.C., and within a few generations it had become the site of an advanced Sumerian civilization.

Only 20 years ago, the amazing world of the Madan — the Marsh Arabs — thrived in the wetlands, far larger than the Everglades, in the southern end of Iraq.  For thousands of years the marshes had been the homeland of the Madan and their water buffalo and cows.  They lived in floating huts made of woven reeds, where they harvested reeds, hunted birds and caught fish.  But they backed a Shiite uprising against the Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.

Saddam murdered thousands of the Marsh Arabs, killed their livestock , poisoned their water sources and burned their huts to the ground.  And then he excavated canals and built dikes to divert the water from the marshes.  Within a few years, the marshland was less than ten percent of its original size.  An area that was once teeming with wildlife — wild boar, hyenas, foxes, otters and even lions — had been turned into barren salt flats, poisoned and filled with land mines.  The remaining Marsh Arabs fled to Iran to live in refugee camps or went north to work as day laborers.  More than 500,000 people had been displaced.

Der Spiegel tells the story of Azzam Alwash, an American citizen and citizen of Iraq, a hydraulic engineer and the director of Nature Iraq, the country’s first and only environmental organization.  His goal is to save and restore the marshes. Only three months after the American invasion, Alwash returned to his native Iraq.  His father, who had worked in Iraq’s Water Ministry until the 1980s, had often taken him along when traveling in the marshes for his work or hunting geese.  Often his mother and two sisters came along on the boat trips.

Now about a third of the original river marshes are covered with water once again.  Teams are tearing out dams, channeling water from the canals back into parched areas, sowing native plants.  The marshes influence the climate.  The region became hotter after the marshland was destroyed.  Alwash and his collaborators are developing a plan for the country’s first national park, a protected area of about 386 square miles where the water supply will be regulated with a large number of floodgates.

The United States has canceled its financial support for the project.  There is still conflict and violence in the region. Turkey is building dams, and gradually reducing the flow of the rivers. The article is informative and thorough, and the pictures of the village of the Marsh Arabs as they lived in 1974 are amazing.  You cannot help but hope that their dreams of restoration come true.

A Very Happy Anniversary! by American Elephant
December 13, 2008, 10:05 pm
Filed under: History, Iraq, Military, News | Tags: , , ,

Five years ago today, Saddam Hussein was captured by US military forces nine miles south of his home town of Tikrit, hiding like a rat in a six- by-four foot hole in the ground.   The announcement (above) was met with jubilant cheers from Iraqi reporters, who leapt from their seats shouting,  “Death to Saddam!” and, “go to hell, Saddam!” Upon hearing the news, Iraqis took to the streets, dancing, honking their horns and firing  shots into the air in celebration.  And they celebrate today, in freedom and very hard-won stability.

War may be hell, but so was life under Saddam’s murderous tyranny. Today, both are over — the latter because of the former.

(h/t Hot Air)

ABC News Connects Saddam and Bin Laden — in 1999! by American Elephant

I am shocked to have just stumbled across this video for the first time. I’ve never seen it before in my life — and I should have! Every American should have. Have you?

In it, ABC News shows the clear and increasingly dangerous connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden… in 1999! Over two years before the 9/11 attacks!

Filmed and aired long before then Governor Bush ever ran for the White House to begin with, and over 2 years before he took office, this video proves several very important things:

  1. That President Bush’s rationale for removing Saddam Hussein from power was entirely justified and based on widely accepted facts.
  2. That the idea that Saddam and Bin Laden would never work together because Saddam was secular and Bin Laden fundamentalist was ridiculous from the get go, and…
  3. That the intelligence that justified removing Saddam existed and was understood long before the Bush administration was even in Washington to supposedly manipulate it.

The deranged left will never be convinced of anything remotely resembling the truth, but remember this video next time you wonder if the war in Iraq was justified…

This video makes it clear: following 9/11, there was no other responsible alternative.

Tom Joscelyn elaborates at Powerline:

In any event, Saddam’s response was telling. Just two days after Operation Desert Fox ended he dispatched one of his top intelligence operatives, Faruq Hijazi, to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. As I and others have written, Hijazi was no low-level flunky. He was one of Saddam’s most trusted goons and was responsible for overseeing a good deal of the regime’s terrorist and other covert activities. It was this meeting that led to widespread reporting on the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. I collected a bunch of these reports, including the ABC News report, in “The Four-Day War.” Another, earlier piece also discusses Saddam’s conspicuous response to Operation Desert Fox.

The consensus in the media then was that there was a relationship between the two and that Saddam’s regime was very willing to work with al Qaeda against their common foe: America. And vice versa. Indeed, the reporting indicated that they had been working together even long before Operation Desert Fox…. [Read the rest]

Has anyone noticed ABC airing this report since we invaded Iraq? And why the hell haven’t they!? Where the hell was this report during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings??


(h/t: Powerline via Vince P)

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