Reform Alliance MP Hassan Khalati revealed the causes of Iraq’s
mass fish deaths are related to the water crisis facing the country, which are
threatening Iraq’s future stability and security.
Khalati told a news conference that, according to the concerned ministers and the head of the Babylon provincial council, the fish deaths have been caused by the reduced water levels, which has forced millions of fish to converge in just a limited amount of basins, overcrowding to the point of mass death.
Iraqi fish farmers south of Baghdad have been left reeling after finding thousands of dead carp mysteriously floating in their cages or washed up on the banks of the Euphrates River, according to a Daily Mail report.
Babylon’s agricultural chief Safaa al-Junaibi blamed the mass deaths on overcrowding in fish farms, which he told AFP facilitated the rapid spread of bacterial disease.
Major water pollution in Basra has also caused mass fish deaths in the province, while around 100,000 people were hospitalized this summer due to poisoning.
Khalati called for compensating farmers and fish hatcheries, as well as the affected people of Basra.
Iraq has been facing a severe water shortage throughout the country due to drought and water sources being cut off. Iraq's former Minister of Water Resources Hassan al-Janabi previously said that Iraq’s continuous shortage of water for about 40 years has become a threat to the state's stability and thus the stability of the region.
"We are [consequently] concerned about the fate of our water shares in light of the continued construction of dams, the expansion of the use of shared water resources, and the diversion of some of the rivers and tributaries that are going towards our country," he had stated, adding that 70 percent of Iraq's water stems from neighboring countries and calling for positive action concerning Iraq's demand to respect its water rights.
Iran had earlier announced that it was cutting of 7 billion cubic meters of water from its western border with Iraq on orders from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It had previously cut off its tributaries that feed the Tigris River in Iraq, which caused the water levels in the river to drop significantly.
Mass displacement crisis
Experts have warned that the future security crisis in Iraq could be triggered by the destruction of agricultural land due to the chronic shortage of water, especially in rural areas, which could lead to the displacement of 4 million people.
The causes of the water crisis are numerous in rural areas, but most are because of the decline in the water levels of Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates rivers due to climate change and international dams. The fading agricultural land will trigger a displacement crisis that goes beyond what Iraqis have suffered in the three-and-a-half-year war against ISIS.
Experts warn that this will put enormous pressure on urban centers and contribute to the deterioration of the security situation, which is already volatile, possibly leading to a new conflict.
Environment Ministry officials expect about 4 million people to be displaced over the next eight years because of the water crisis if drastic measures are not taken.
The threat of 4 million Iraqis being displaced in less than 10 years is tragic news for the future of Iraq's stability. The mass fish deaths are just an early symptom of much larger issue that is being exacerbated by the interference of Iran as part of the mullah regime's attempts to exert its control over Iraq.