7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Bid to restore Iraqi wetlands

HIGH-LEVEL regional environmental officials will meet in Bahrain today to discuss ways of restoring the marshlands of Southern Iraq, which were drained by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussain after the 1991 Gulf War.

The meeting is a joint effort organised by the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Geneva-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Also taking part is the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre, based in Bahrain.

The Iraqi marsh is considered by many to be the cradle of civilisation. For more than 5,000 years the Marsh Arab culture thrived in the 8,000-square-miles of wetlands fed by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.

The marshes boasted hundreds of species of birds and fish and periodic flooding created fertile farmlands.

Some scholars believe the flooded, flat plain was an important part of the development of an agriculture-based culture that helped raise civilisation to new heights. The vast marsh was identified by some biblical scholars as the site of the fabled Garden of Eden. But after the Gulf War, Saddam ordered that the marsh be drained to punish the Marsh Arabs, who opposed his rule.

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