Monday, September 13, 2010

Mideast Nations Come Together Over Sandstorms

A sandstorm at the Haditha Dam in Iraq. Photo: James McCauley / Creative Commons. Photo courtesy: TreeHugger

Though conflicts over sparse water supplies have created rifts between Turkey and its neighbors, the sandstorms they exacerbate have brought countries in the region together, signing an agreement this week to tackle soil erosion, air pollution, and desertification within the next five years.

According to Agence France-Presse, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Qatar, and Turkey have signed an agreement at an environmental conference in Tehran to "establish a network of meteorological stations, regenerate vegetation to stabilize soil, and exchange expertise in these areas."

War-ravaged Iraq has been among the hardest-hit by sandstorms, which are worsened by the conflict-related loss of trees that stabilize the soil. Last summer, one particularly bad week-long sandstorm sent hundreds to the hospital with breathing difficulties, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty wrote at the time:
Iraq has long suffered blinding sandstorms, but several years of drought have aggravated the situation this year. The inadequate flow of water down its once-mighty rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, which are choked by dams in upstream countries like Turkey, has made things worse. Water shortages make the land dry out and become more dusty.
Disputes over water from the Tigris and Euphrates have long been a point of contention, but with the sandstorms spreading to Iran and Syria, traveling as far as 1,000 kilometers, Iraq's neighbors have apparently come to realize the fight is not one country's alone.

Via TreeHugger

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