Once that information is updated, researchers say they then can use computer simulations to test various
approaches to restoration and, if necessary, perform ecological triage if it looks as if some former marshlands
are beyond restoration.
Others control the source
In the long run, however, any attempt to restore the marshes will require international cooperation over
water allocations in a region where water is more critical to long-term development than oil.
The vast majority of water flowing through Iraq's two major rivers comes from somewhere else, explains
Thomas Naff, a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern History at the University of Pennsylvania and a member
of ISTAR's group. He notes that 84 percent of the water flowing through the Euphrates comes from Turkey,
while 13 percent comes from Syria. The Tigris is fed by tributaries flowing from Turkey, Iran, and Iraq.
Thus, dam projects in Turkey and, to a lesser extent, in Syria play a crucial role in what Iraq ultimately receives. The 800-pound gorilla in the hydrological arena is Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project. Among its
elements: 15 huge dams, 14 hydroelectric stations, and 19 irrigation projects - all feeding off the Tigris and
Euphrates. In 1990, Turkey filled its Ataturk Dam, the largest of the project's dams, stopping its
overwhelming share of the Euphrates's flow for 29 days.
And while Turkey and Syria have worked out an uneasy pact over water allocations, "Turkey has not had
any real negotiations with Iraq for more than a decade," Dr. Dellapenna says. In effect, the countries will
have to start from scratch to negotiate basin-wide allocation rights, he adds.
Last chance to save marshes
"Given the present condition of the marshes, the one marsh that is capable of resuscitation is Al Hawizeh
Marsh," which straddles the Iran-Iraq border, Dr. Naff says. If time weren't so pressing, it might be possible
to revive others, he continues, but to do so would require dismantling dams and other engineered
structures, substantially increasing the cost of recovery at a time when the country has more pressing
In the end, the best the Marsh Arabs can hope for, some experts say, may be to preserve as much of Al
Hawizeh as possible, allowing them to establish an international wildlife reserve and encourage ecotourism.
(c) Copyright 2003. The Christian Science Monitor
World Markets Analysis
March 26, 2003
UNEP Urges Bosnia to Commence Uranium Decontamination
BYLINE: Jelena Markovic
Officials from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have urged authorities across Bosnia and
Herzegovina, one of the former Yugoslav republics, to commence decontamination measures in order to
eradicate traces of depleted uranium (DU), although they will undoubtedly require considerable financial
backing. The radioactive element has been found on three sites, which were targets of NATO bombardment
in the 1990s and are located in the vicinity of the capital Sarajevo and the eastern town of Han Pijesak (see
Bosnia & Herz: 15 October 2003: Depleted Uranium Contamination Assessed by UN). UNEP has confirmed
that the risk of contamination is only present in direct contact with DU, in an attempt to assure the local
population of their safety. However, NATO co-ordinates for six other targets during the war have yet to be
communicated to Bosnian authorities, especially as fragments of DU buried under the surface pose a
significant risk to water supplies. Meanwhile, NATO insists that no conclusive link has been found between
DU and increased cancer rates and other adverse health effects.