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Attacks on Water Supply Next Weapon of Mass Destruction Says Water Activist Sharon Kleyne
Date:8/18/2014

which has no natural rivers and supports its 20 million inhabitants by importing water from other countries. Cut this water off and Saudi Arabia falls. The same is true of many Middle East and North African nations.

The 200 million citizens of Pakistan, Kleyne adds, depend almost entirely on the Indus River, which begins in China and passes through India. Much of northern India, in turn, depends on the Brahmaputra River, whose headwaters are also in China, which has been threatening for years to dam the Brahmaputra. The Nile that sustains most of Egypt’s 50 million residents has its source in Ethiopia and could be cut off, diverted or poisoned.

The most glaring recent use of water as a weapon of mass destruction, according to Kleyne, was employed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 1991, in the uprising following the first Gulf War. The Marsh Arabs had lived in the salt marshes of Iraq’s Tigris-Euphrates delta for thousands of years. Most were Shia Muslims whom Hussein regarded as a threat to his Sunni Muslim regime. The salt marshes had become a major refuge for rebel leaders.

Saddam’s strategy, Kleyne explains, was to drain the marshes by constructing bypass canals from the Tigris/Euphrates into the Persian Gulf. Over 100,000 people fled the marshes and many more were killed by Saddam’s troops in what has been described as genocide. When it was over only about 1,500 Marsh Arabs remained. The marshes are now mostly restored – by the United States - and some of the population has returned.

The recent Iraqi militant siege on Mount Sinjar was also an attempt to conquer and kill by cutting people off from their water supply, Kleyne notes.

Also vulnerable, according to Kleyne, are water pumping and filtration plants, dams and reservoirs, pipelines and desalination plants.    

To avoid these and other water security scenarios, Kleyne believes, individuals, groups, local and regional governments and nations
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