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THE MARSH ARABS - IRAQ

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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2007, 09:17:48 pm »







Help Is at Hand

The AMARA Foundation is a charity that has been established to help the displaced Marsh Arabs maintain their unique lifestyle while campaigning on an international level on behalf of the displaced. It is largely thanks to them that the world now knows of their plight.


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1 The major difference between Sunni and Shiia has to do with the issue of succession after the death of Mohammed, ie, who leads the Islamic faith. This is an issue that reared its head at the very foundation of Islam -

2 The five daily prayer seesions are not just a religious duty, they are also times of religious instruction. Not attending a mosque prayer session, for some, is akin to not fulfilling holy duties.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 06:43:16 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2007, 09:30:31 pm »




                                A case of liberation: think, for a moment, about Iraq's Marsh Arabs





National Review,

  
Jan. 30, 2006
JayNordlinger                                                                                                                                 

WHEN the United States and its allies went into Afghanistan and Iraq, they liberated about 56 million people. Those people had suffered under two of the most brutal regimes imaginable. A lot of people choke on that word, "liberated"--for others of us, it is entirely appropriate.

The scope of this achievement--the liberation--is almost too great to comprehend. Too many lives, communities, and situations are involved. But can we focus on merely one case--that of the "Marsh Arabs," in southern Iraq? Saddam Hussein succeeded in destroying the environment in which they lived; he almost succeeded in destroying the people themselves. Now those marshes are coming back, and the people are coming back, too.

No matter whether we supported the Iraq War or opposed it, can't we all rejoice in these results of the war'? The answer is, of course, no.

The Mesopotamian Marshlands--home of the Marsh Arabs--exist at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Many have imagined this area the site of the Garden of Eden. Until the early 1990s, this "Eden" was the Middle East's largest wetland, covering about 7,500 square miles. The Marsh Arabs--also known as the Madan--are among the oldest peoples on earth, dating back 5,000 years. They are a link to the Sumerians. For all these millennia, they have lived in their marshes, gliding in their skiffs, called "mashoofs," and dwelling in their reed huts. They have subsisted on fish and water buffalo, chiefly. The British explorer Wilfred Thesiger made them famous in the 1960s, when he published his book The Marsh Arabs.
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« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2007, 09:32:38 pm »








The marshes were always a mysterious place, a haven and hideout for rebels, bandits, dissenters. When the Shiites failed in their uprising against Saddam after the Persian Gulf War, many of them sought refuge in these marshes. And the local residents, hating the regime--like most Iraqis--sympathized with them. Saddam decided that the area and the people had to be eradicated.

What happened next is a picture of pure evil; it can scarcely be absorbed. In a massive push called the Third River Project, the regime created dams, dikes, and canals--and dried up the marshes. One new canal was called the Mother of All Battles River; there was also the Fidelity to the Leader Canal. With amazing speed, this vast wetland became a desert. The plants died, the animals died, water was nowhere. One newspaper report had residents saying that it was as though someone had pulled a plug. Saddam destroyed a lull 90 percent of the Mesopotamian Marshlands, establishing a military zone in their place.

But there's much, much more. The elimination of the marshes caused the people to starve, flee, or die--and Saddam did all he could to make sure they died. He poisoned the lagoons; he shelled villages; he set reedbeds ablaze: he imprisoned, tortured, and executed; and he attacked these Iraqis with WMD--with chemical weapons. He left no technique untried. In August 1993, a British writer and filmmaker, Michael Wood, said that the dictator's "slow genocide of the Marsh Arabs is nearing its climax." Yet it had not been so slow, really.

And the world knew. In March 1993, Time magazine wrote of a doomed people. Some of the most moving reporting of this period was done by Chris Hedges of the New York Times'. (A decade later, he would become a shockingly vicious opponent of the Iraq War, condemning the United States as the real oppressor.) Officials of the Clinton State Department testified to Congress about exactly what the regime was doing. Vice President Gore was appalled by the ruin of the wetlands, and spoke out strongly about Iraq: "In the interests of regional peace and for the sake of human decency, [Saddam Hussein] must be removed from power. That is the policy of this administration. It is the policy 1 support. It is the policy I am personally committed to." (That statement was made in 2000.) In 2001, the U.N. Environment Programme released satellite photos, showing brown where marshlands had been.
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« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2007, 09:35:33 pm »








And then the war came. The second they could, what Marsh Arabs remained punctured dikes, knocked down sluice gates, and otherwise tried to undo Saddam's project. Speaking of moving reporting, here is some by the New York Times's James Glanz:


   ... when Mr. Hussein's government fell
   in April 2003, villagers went to [a particular
   dike] and gouged holes in it using
   shovels, their bare hands and at least one
   piece of heavy equipment, a floating
   backhoe. Since then, something miraculous
   has occurred: reeds and cattails have
   sprouted up again; fish, snails and shrimp
   have returned to the waters; egrets and
   storks perch on the jagged remains of the
   walls, coolly surveying the territory as if
   they had never left.


Those mashoofs glided once more, and reed huts were built again. Desert was disappearing; wetlands were returning. Journalists from around the world collected expressions of gratitude and joy, and I offer a sampling: "The water is our life; it is a gift from God to have it back." "Everyone is so happy; we are starting to live like we used to, not the way Saddam wanted us to live." "[I am] like a person detained in prison who is set free." "This war has brought two joys for us: the end of Saddam and the return of the water." "This is what we call rebirth." And here is a snippet from the Washington Post of April 14, 2003: "[Men of the Wafi tribe], Shiite Muslims, said they had been banned from observing their religion until last Friday, when their imam was free to preach for the first time in years, and gave a talk 'thanking God and the coalition forces for giving us freedom,' as the sheik put it."
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« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2007, 09:37:12 pm »





As soon as they could, the United States and its allies moved in to regenerate the marshlands and assist the people. The U.S. Agency for International Development and others are training Iraqis, equipping them--helping them help themselves. One prominent group is called Eden Again, and two of its guiding lights are Azzam Alwash and his wife, Suzie Alwash. Both are Ph.D.-holding environmental scientists. He is an Iraqi who grew tip in Nasiriyah, the son of an irrigation engineer; she is a Texan.

Suzie Alwash reports that about 40 percent of the marshlands have been reflooded. And about half of that has been revegetated: "It's amazing, when you look at pictures of the place, from month to month, how last this stuff is revived." Some areas will never be revived, but the Mesopotamian Marshlands will again have a life. Another scientist--Thomas L. Crisman, a wetlands specialist at the University of Florida--says that he doesn't like to use the word "restoration": "'You're not God; you can't put it back." He prefers "rehabilitation," arguing that, with time and smarts, reasonable goals can be obtained.
 
As with Iraq at large, not all has been well in the marshlands since Liberation Day. Numbering about 500,000 mid-century, the Marsh Arabs were maybe half as many by the time of the 1991 war. After Saddam's depredations, those in the area dwindled to about 75,000; the others were dispersed or killed. According to Suzie Alwash, some 100,000 Marsh Arabs have returned since the liberation: from the towns, cities, and camps of their exile. (Some went to neighboring Iran.) Different Marsh Arabs want different things: Some want a more modern life, tired of the reeds; some want to farm, instead of coping with the fish and water buffalo. There are problems with the water: very salty, not as life-giving as it was. Turkey's dams affect southern Iraq, and water politics are always sticky.
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« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2007, 09:40:20 pm »


 THE MI'DAN HAD ALWAYS FISHED WITH SPEARS, "THE MANLY WAY." During the 1970s, however, the Beni Hassan began to catch larger quantities of fish in nets. The solution for the Mi'dan is shown in this photo: they trapped fish in nets but harvested them with their spears.
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« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2007, 12:16:56 pm »


MANUFACTURING A REED BASKET. Reed baskets such as that being made here were probably woven in antiquity in exactly the same way.

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« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2007, 12:20:37 pm »


CHILD PLAYING WITH CLAY ANIMAL FIGURINES. Children make toys of all kinds out of sun-dried mud; men and boys also make rattles, whistles, drums, and watering troughs for livestock from the same material.







PROCESSION OF ANIMAL FIGURINES FROM UR. In the past most of the figurines like those in (b) were thought to be votive objects. Today we think some of them are toys made by children long ago.
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« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2007, 12:27:12 pm »


BED IN AN OUTSIDE COURTYARD AT AL-HIBA. Bundles of reeds laid on low walls of mud and covered with reed mats provide safe places to sleep during the hottest weather. The raised beds share the courtyard with domestic animals and protect the sleepers against cattle, sheep, chickens, creepy-crawlers, and other things which go bump in the night.

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« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2007, 12:29:48 pm »


TERRACOTTA BED MODELS FROM UR. Hundreds of these bed models have been found in ancient strata and some of them may well have been children's toys. Note that the top surfaces of the models have been sculpted to represent woven reed mats.
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« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2007, 10:05:14 pm »



FOR FURTHER READING:


MARSH ARABS - HISTORY

http://atlantisonline.smfforfree2.com/index.php/topic,2798.0.html


REVIVING EDEN

http://atlantisonline.smfforfree2.com/index.php/topic,1547.0.html
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