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'Islamic State' uses water to control population in dry Middle East - is this California's future?


California drought

(NaturalNews) To be clear: There are no similarities between the brutal leadership of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -- known more simply as the "Islamic State" (IS) -- and the government and people of California. That said, the connection between California's recent drought and the manner in which the Islamic State is use scarce water resources as a weapon of coercion to control its population is worth examining.

In recent weeks, as the IS has consolidated its control over the parts of Syria and Iraq that the militant group has captured over the course of the past year, reports have surfaced that IS fighters and administrators "are increasingly using water as a weapon, cutting off supplies to villages that resist their rule and pressing to expand their control over the country's water infrastructure," The Washington Post reports.

Indeed, the paper said, the threat has now reached such a critical stage that American forces are targeting IS militants who have taken up positions near the Mosul and Haditha dams -- Iraq's largest -- nearly on a daily basis. That said, the Islamist extremists nevertheless continue to threaten both of those facilities, clashing often with Iraqi forces guarding them.

The Post report continued:

The Sunni militants want to seize the dams to bolster their claim that they are building an actual state. They have already taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria and, as part of their latest offensive, have been besieging the Syrian town of Kobane in an effort to secure another piece of the border with Turkey. The U.S.-led coalition escalated its airstrikes [recently] around Kobane, blunting the assailants' offensive.

Gaining control over the country's dams is vital -- they serve as the primary sources of irrigation for Iraq's vast wheat fields. They also provide millions of Iraqis with electricity. But the Islamic State has used its control over water facilities -- which includes four dams along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers -- to uproot entire communities or deprive them of precious water supplies.

The Islamic State "understands how powerful water is as a tool, and they are not afraid to use it," Michael Stephens, a Middle East expert at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based security studies think tank, told the Post. "A lot of effort has been expended to control resources in Iraq in a way not seen in other conflicts."

Draconian measures -- such as moving people out of certain areas -- are actively being suggested in California, meanwhile. With more than 58 percent of the state suffering "Exceptional Drought" conditions -- which result in widespread crop and farmland losses as well as shortages of water in reservoirs, streams and wells -- some climatologists and other experts believe that it may come down to shifting communities into areas where there are better water resources.

"Civilizations in the past have had to migrate out of areas of drought," Lynn Wilson, the academic chair at Kaplan University who serves on the climate change delegation in the United Nations, told CNBC in July. "We may have to migrate people out of California."

She added that every option -- including the importation of water into the state -- would be considered first. But, she maintained, "migration can't be taken off the table."

Already, California has depleted most of its surface water; one more third of the remaining amount will be used this year. That has forced the state to turn to groundwater -- for consumption, for crop irrigation and other uses. Already, several communities have limited water usage, imposing strict rules and levying fines, while encouraging residents to tattle on anyone caught violating the rules.

As for using water as a weapon in general, the Allies bombed German dams during World War II, and later, in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the dictator drained the country's southern marshes in an attempt to punish citizens for a rebellion, the Post reported.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://www.cnbc.com

http://www.bloomberg.com

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