The Marsh Arabs are reclaiming their land:
HAWR AL HAMMAR, Iraq -- It's 100 degrees at noon, the hour when the sky itself seems to melt into chrome-colored lakes--rippling pools that shimmer like mirrors in the vast salt pans of southern Iraq. These days, however, those liquid sheets of light are no mirage. They are real water--and one of the most poignant symbols of liberation since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
"This will bring back the fish, the birds and the animals," said Jawad Mutashir, a grizzled Marsh Arab who came to watch, for the pure joy of it, water from the Euphrates River gurgling back into the long-dead swamp that had been his ancestral home.
Bands of impoverished villagers upstream had cut the levees that Hussein built expressly to destroy Iraq's sprawling wetlands. Unshackled for the first time in years, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were now refilling thousands of acres of dry marsh.
"Thanks be to Allah for giving our water back!" declared grinning old Mutashir, one of thousands of nomads displaced by Hussein's cataclysmic reclamation projects. His dingy robes flapping about him, he hugged himself with his scrawny arms and added, "Thanks be to George Bush!"
More than two months after Baghdad fell to coalition troops, an extraordinary act of cultural defiance is unfolding almost unnoticed on the burning plains of southern Iraq.
I'm sure someone somewhere will spin this to say that the Bush Junta™ is really doing some dastardly thing by allowing this to happen (all those poisons Rumsfeld sold to Saddam Hussein are going to leach into the marshes and turn all the Marsh Arabs into three-eyed mutants!). Or else the critics will say that Bush is cursing at the happiness of the Arabs there and trying to come up with ways to cover the marshes with Ooooiiilllll.
(Via Instapundit.)Posted by Andrea Harris at June 13, 2003 03:16 PM