Iraqi Experts Say Iran Bears Responsibility for Drought in Hawizeh Marshes

Marshes in Iraq. (AFP)
Marshes in Iraq. (AFP)
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Iraqi Experts Say Iran Bears Responsibility for Drought in Hawizeh Marshes

Marshes in Iraq. (AFP)
Marshes in Iraq. (AFP)

It seems that geographic realities linking Iraq to Iran have caused inescapable problems that are compounding their turbulent political relations.

Issues between Baghdad and Tehran go beyond problems of borders and oil field demarcation, extending to water supplies. Iraq accuses Iran of cutting river water flowing from its territory and thus affecting Iraqi marshes and causing drought.

In contrast, Iranian authorities accuse Iraq of ignoring what is happening in the Hawizeh Marshes, which have been suffering from severe drought and fires.

The Hawizeh Marshes straddle the Iraq and Iran border. The marshes are fed by two branches of the Tigris River in Iraq and Karkheh River in Iran.

In response to Iranian accusations, Iraqi experts said that Iran is responsible for the drought that hit the marshes after it blocked the flow of its rivers. The drought later contributed to the break out of fires during blistering summers.

The marshes is a joint water plateau between the two countries with an estimated area of 1,350 km in Iraq and 1,250 km in Iraq, Hawizeh Marshes expert Jassem Al-Assadi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Iranians objected to including Hawizeh Marshes in the 2016 World Heritage List,” Assadi added.

Iran wanted to include the part which lies within its territory, but it was refused because it was carrying out actions that harm the marshes’ environment.

Assadi went on to list Iran’s actions, which include cutting off all the water inflow into marshes by constructing three dams along the Karakh River.

More so, he stressed that there is no valid justification for current Iranian complaints, and that existing documents condemn Iranian actions, not Iraqis.

A senior Iranian official had threatened to take legal action against Iraq if evidence is found to prove that the fires that swept across the Hawizeh Marshes were deliberate.

According to the Ramsar Convention, signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1975, no country was allowed to build any dam that prevents water from reaching the wetland.



Biden Abruptly Changed His Mind about 2024 Race over Weekend, Sources Say

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
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Biden Abruptly Changed His Mind about 2024 Race over Weekend, Sources Say

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)

As of Saturday, President Joe Biden was still planning to stay in the 2024 presidential race. But on Sunday afternoon, he shocked many of his senior staff by telling them he was withdrawing just before making the decision public, sources familiar with the matter said.

The sources, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Biden began to come to a decision on Saturday night that he should withdraw from the 2024 race. He had spent weeks defiantly insisting he would stay in the race despite pressure from some Democrats to pull out.

At 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, however, Biden told his senior team he had changed his mind and would withdraw, the sources said.

One minute later, at 1:46 p.m., Biden made his bombshell announcement.

The decision came less than a month after Biden had a disastrous debate against Republican Donald Trump that raised questions about the mental acuity of the 81-year-old Democratic president.

Biden came to his decision over the 48 hours preceding the announcement, after digesting large amounts of data and polls that showed his path to victory largely out of reach, two sources said. He agonized over the decision, but when he made up his mind, he moved quickly, a senior White House official said.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke multiple times on Sunday ahead of his announcement, a person familiar with their conversations said.

Biden, who has been at his Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home since testing positive for COVID on Wednesday, shared his decision with his senior team by reading the letter to them that he would soon release publicly on social media.

"He read the letter to us and wanted us to understand his thinking. He said he had wrestled with it over the last 48 hours," the official said.

Shortly after the call, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients called senior White House staff together to inform them of the decision.

"This was really closely held," the official said. "It came as a surprise to most White House folks."

DIVIDED PARTY

After the debate, Biden began losing ground to Trump in battleground states, and Biden's campaign was pursuing a razor-thin path to reelection.

"It became hard with the growing opposition within the party. We have to be united going into November. That was a factor," the senior White House official said, while noting there had still been significant support for Biden across the country.

“I'm still processing it," said Marcus Mason, an at-large member of the Democratic National Convention.

"The president will go down in history as a patriot who put his country and party over his own ambitions," Mason said.

The president, still nursing a cough after his COVID diagnosis, had spent the weekend stewing over Democratic pressure to force him to leave the race, aides said. With him were long-time senior aides Annie Tomasini, Steve Richetti and Mike Donilon and a top aide to first lady Jill Biden, Anthony Bernal.

Biden had been particularly irked at former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Biden advisers believed was orchestrating a pressure campaign to get him to stand down.

Hours before the announcement, the Biden campaign denied reports he was planning to drop out.

"It is false. And I think that it is false to continue to try to gin up this narrative," deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks told MSNBC's "The Weekend” on Sunday morning.

There were plenty of signs Biden had been thinking about pulling out for several days, with sources saying the Democratic incumbent had been doing some soul-searching.