Iraq's Famed Marshes Are Disappearing—Again
A decade after the restoration of their once fruitful wetlands, the Marsh Arabs are struggling to cope with the country's water shortage.
CHIBAISH, IraqAs Saddam Hussein drained Iraq's famed marshes to punish the rebellious tribesmen who lived in them, Amjad Mohamed packed his few possessions, grabbed his fishing rod, and fled south to Basra with his extended family.
For 12 years, they lived in one of the poor, neglected neighborhoods on the outskirts of Iraq's second largest city. He worked as a laborer in the oil fields and tried his hand at catching fish in nearby streams.
All the while, though, Mohamed dreamed of returning home, and when the U.S.-led invasion started in 2003, he was among the first to hack at the dikes Saddam's regime had built to block the rivers from replenishing the wetlands. Eagerly embracing his ancestral-village days after the arrival of