Mesopotamia: the sources of the first advanced civilizations threaten to dry up

By Sameer Ibrahim and Michael Seifert
The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are among the largest rivers in the world and have numerous large and small tributaries. This makes Iraq one of the few countries that has a large amount of water despite its small area. The control of the rivers and the irrigation of the landscape were the decisive factors for the emergence of the first civilizations in human history in Mesopotamia. Starting in Anatolia, people settled here for the first time and developed agriculture and animal husbandry. City states and kingdoms emerged. This required the invention of writing and the first legal system. School education, literature, ceramics, technical developments and much more began here. Great civilizations followed one another: Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians…
The Tigris rises in the Taurus Mountains in Turkey and flows southwards through Iraq, past Syria, to meet the Euphrates. It is 1850 kilometers long and has several tributaries, including the Diyala River and the large and small Zab Rivers. The Euphrates also rises in Turkey, crosses Syrian territory and flows through Iraq.In the south, it joins the Tigris to form the Shatt al-Arab waterway.After another 190 kilometers, it flows into the Persian Gulf.
According to expert forecasts, Iraq will be a country without rivers by 2040 due to climate change and the construction of many dams by Turkey.As a result, Iraq is receiving less and less water, which has become a major threat to agriculture and the animals living on and in the river.The riverbed is drying up.Heat records of over 50 degrees in summer contribute to this (tuenews INTERNATIONAL has already reported on this: „Der Irak hat drei Sonnen“ – 50 Grad Hitze | tuenews INTERNATIONAL) Fishermen are catching fewer and fewer fish.Families who used to live off the river as self-supporters now have to buy expensive food. In many places you can cross the river on foot.
Sameer Ibrahim, who has lived in Germany since 2015, hears from family and friends how badly the two rivers are doing. He asks anxiously: “Will the seagulls leave the land of the two rivers? Will the fish disappear completely? What will the people who have lived on the banks of the river for thousands of years live on?Where will the sun’s rays be reflected in Iraq in the future if not on its great rivers? Even now, the less populated regions look like a desert.The coming years will answer all these questions.”


Der Fluss Tigris im Irak. Foto: Kamal Mahmoud.






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