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As Iraq runs dry, a plague of snakes is unleashed

An unprecedented fall in the water levels of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers has left the rural population at the mercy of heat, drought – and displaced wildlife. Patrick Cockburn reports

Swarms of snakes are attacking people and cattle in southern Iraq as the Euphrates and Tigris rivers dry up and the reptiles lose their natural habitat among the reed beds.

ALAMY

“People are terrified and are leaving their homes,” says Jabar Mustafa, a medical administrator, who works in a hospital in the southern province of Dhi Qar. “We knew these snakes before, but now they are coming in huge numbers. They are attacking buffalo and cattle as well as people.” Doctors in the area say six people have been killed and 13 poisoned.

In Chabaysh, a town on the Euphrates close to the southern marshland of Hawr al-Hammar, farmers have set up an overnight operations room to prevent the snakes attacking their cattle.

“We have been surprised in recent days by the unprecedented number of snakes that have fled their habitat because of the dryness and heat,” Wissam al-Assadi, one of the town’s vets said. “We saw some on roads, near houses and cowsheds. Farmers have come to us for vaccines, but we don’t have any.”

The plague of snakes is the latest result of an unprecedented fall in the level of the water in the Euphrates and the Tigris, the two great rivers which for thousands of years have made life possible in the sun-baked plains of Mesopotamia, the very name of which means “between the rivers” in Greek. The rivers that made Iraq’s dry soil so fertile are drying up because the supply of water, which once flowed south into Iraq from Turkey, Syria and Iran, is now held back by dams and used for irrigation. On the Euphrates alone, Turkey has five large dams upriver from Iraq, and Syria has two.

The diversion of water from the rivers has already destroyed a large swathe of Iraqi agriculture and the result of Iraq being starved of water may be one of the world’s greatest natural disasters, akin to the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest. Already the advance of the desert has led to frequent dust storms in Baghdad which close the airport. Yet this dramatic climatic change has attracted little attention outside Iraq, overshadowed by the violence following the US-led invasion in 2003 and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

The collapse in the water levels of the rivers has been swift, the amount of water in the Euphrates falling by three-quarters in less than a decade. In 2000, the flow speed of the water in the river was 950 cubic metres per second, but by this year it had dropped to 230 cubic metres per second.

In the past, Iraq has stored water in lakes behind its own dams, but these reservoirs are now much depleted and can no longer make up the shortfall. The total water reserves behind all Iraqi dams at the beginning of May was only 11 billion cubic metres, compared to over 40 billion three years ago. One of the biggest dams in the country, on the Euphrates at Haditha in western Iraq, close to the Syrian border, held eight billion cubic metres two years ago but now has only two billion.

Iraq has appealed to Turkey to open the sluice gates on its dams. “We need at least 500 cubic metres of water per second from Turkey, or double what we are getting,” says Abdul Latif Rashid, the Iraqi Minister of Water Resources. “They promised an extra 130 cubic metres, but this was only for a couple of days and we need it for months.” His ministry is doing everything it can, he says, but the most important decisions about the supply of water to Iraq are taken outside the country – in Turkey, Syria and Iran. “In addition there has been a drought for the last four years with less than half the normal rainfall falling,” says Mr Rashid.

Large parts of Iraq that were once productive farmland have already turned into arid desert. The Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture says that between 40 and 50 per cent of what was agricultural land in the 1970s is now being hit by desertification.

Drought, war, UN sanctions, lack of investment and the cutting down of trees for firewood have all exacerbated the crisis, but at its heart is the lack of water for irrigation in the Tigris and Euphrates. Farmers across Iraq are being driven from the land. Earlier this month, farmers and fishermen demonstrated in Najaf, a city close to the Euphrates, holding up placards demanding that the Iraqi government insist that foreign countries release more water.

“The farmers have stopped planting and now head to the city for work to earn their daily living until the water comes back,” said Ali al-Ghazali, a farmer from the area.

“We pay for our seeds at the time of the harvest, and if we fail to harvest, or the harvest has been ruined, the person who sold us the seeds still wants his money.” Najaf province has banned its farmers from growing rice because the crop needs too much water.

The drop in the quantity of water in the rivers has also reduced its quality. The plains of ancient Mesopotamia once produced abundant crops for the ancient Sumerians. From Nineveh in the north to Ur of the Chaldees in the south, the flat landscape of Iraq is dotted with the mounds marking the remains of their cities. There is little rainfall away from the mountains of Kurdistan and the land immediately below them, so agriculture has always depended on irrigation.

But centuries of irrigating the land without draining it properly has led to a build-up of salt in the soil, making much of it infertile. Lack of water in the rivers has speeded up the salinisation, so land in central and southern Iraq, highly productive 30 years ago, has become barren. Even such rainfall as does fall in northern Iraq has been scant in recent years. In February, the Greater Zaab river, one of the main tributaries of the Tigris, which should have been a torrent, was a placid stream occupying less than a quarter of its river bed. The hills overlooking it, which should be green, were a dusty brown.

Experts summoned by the Water Resources Ministry to a three-day conference on the water crisis held in Sulaimaniyah in April described the situation as “a tragedy”.

Mohammed Ali Sarham, a water specialist from Diwaniyah in southern Iraq, said: “Things are slipping from our hands: swathes of land are being turned into desert. Farmers are leaving the countryside and heading to the city or nearby areas. We are importing almost all our food, though in the 1950s we were one of the few regional cereal-exporting countries.”

The experts recommended that, in addition to Turkey releasing more water, there should be heavy investment to make better use of the waterways such as the Tigris and Euphrates. But this year Mr Rashid says that his budget for this year has been cut in half to $500m (£300m) because of the fall in the price of oil.

The outcome of the agricultural disaster in Iraq is evident in the fruit and vegetable shops in Baghdad. Jassim Mohammed Bahadeel, a grocer in the Karada district, says that once much of what he sold came from farms around the Iraqi capital. “But today, the apples I sell come from America, France and Chile; tomatoes and potatoes from Syria and Jordan; oranges from Egypt and Turkey. Only the dates come from Iraq because they do not need a lot of water.”

Rightly feared: Iraq’s deadly reptiles

*Saw-Scaled Viper (Echis carinatus) About 2ft long, this viper is blamed for more deaths than any other species in the world. Its bite causes extensive internal haemorrhaging in its victims. Recognisable by an arrow-shaped marking on the head.

*Desert Horned Viper (Cerastes cerastes) The Desert Horned Viper is typically found in sandy terrain and is a common sight in Iraq’s southern deserts, identified by the bony horns over its eyes. It lurks in sand, only eyes, nostrils and horns above the surface.

*Desert Cobra (Walterinnesia aegyptia) Like most cobras, it is easily adaptable to various habitats. But locations occupied by humans are a particular favourite where shelter and rodents are on offer. Whilst this glossy snake does not actively seek confrontation, it can move with lethal speed when provoked.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/as-iraq-runs-dry-a-plague-of-snakes-is-unleashed-1705315.html

 

My New Book is now published, June 21. I was shocked, to discover that some Word of Faith TV preachers are knowingly in league with Satan. The video for this book is located here: Satan’s False Prophets Exposed

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Prophecy VIDEOS are at the bottom of this page.

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The position of this website and my books:

  1. The beast and false prophet are based in Islam, so the Ottoman Islamic empire will rise from the Abyss, which means come back to life.
  2. The beast will NOT rule the entire planet
  3. America will NOT be destroyed before the Great Tribulation begins, but will suffer one or more major natural disasters that will badly wound us, thereby allowing the beast to rise to power.
  4. America is Babylon the Great and will be mostly destroyed at the end of WW3, but God will save the Christians who did not go in the Rapture.
  5. The Rapture is Pre-Wrath, yet posttrib
  6. There will be a U.S. civil war, and the preliminaries appear to be taking place now.
  7. The nuclear war will cause black clouds to cover the planet, causing the darkness predicted in many places in the Old and New Testaments.
  8. There will be a massive asteroid impact after the nuclear war and contribute to the Three Days of Darkness.
  9. Many other natural disasters take place during the Wrath of God, including poison air,  volcanic eruptions, huge earthquakes, etc.that will kill more people than nuclear war.
  10. The Ten Toes of Daniel 2 will NOT rule the world, but WILL break apart (Book 1).

READ SAMPLE CHAPTERS
from my books by clicking on the links in the right-hand column, below.

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Bible Prophecy Revealed: 

Book One

Discoveries in Bible ProphecyFront-1a1

Revised and Updated (Nov. 2015)

* Proof that the beast comes to power with the 5th Trumpet
* The smoking gun that Kills the pretribulation Rapture
* The United States FOUND clearly several times
* Evidence the Great Tribulation could begin soon
* A new interpretation of Daniel’s 4 beasts
* A new interpretation of Daniel’s ten toes
* New discoveries about Daniel’s 70th week
* Evidence that the Bride of Christ is not the entire Church
* Proof positive that the beast will NOT rule the entire planet
* Missiles and rockets described in detail, even the warhead

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Book Two

The Beast and False Prophet Revealedfront-2a

* Islam’s connection to the second beast of Revelation
*How and why the Turkey will rise to be the beast
* The Christian Armenian Genocide found in Bible prophecy
* Islam’s connection to 666
* The history of the beast that reveals its Satanic character
* Shows the how the beast is even now clawing at the edges of the Abyss trying to get out
* The Shocking truth about the image of the beast
* The Quran found in Bible prophecy,
and MUCH MORE

Read this great review from Amazon: DMarie's review of The Beast and False Prophet Revealed

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front-cover-final-revised-2 Book Three

The Fall of Babylon the Great America

* Solid evidence that America is Babylon the Great.
* How America will FALL twice.
* How America is, Political, Economic, and Cultural Babylon.
* How America will be split into 3 parts.
* Why America became such a rich and powerful nation.
* How America is headed for a civil war, and will be nuked,
and much more
* Here is a NEW CHAPTER which will SOON be added to the book: 

Signs of Civil War?

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Book Four

The Approaching Apocalypse and Three Days of Darkness

* Nuclear war and asteroid impact will bring the Three Days of Darkness.

* There will also be volcanic eruptions, huge earthquakes, fire from heaven, and poison air.front-1

* Christ returns during the Three Days of Darkness and burns up the dark clouds with fire from heaven, saving the world from self-destruction.

* A small second sun will appear in the sky that will come close to Earth and burn us with its flames.

* Learn about the mass vision that was seen by 70-80,000 people in 1917 that warns us of the Day of Judgment.

* Contains many prophecies from inside and outside the Bible:
Book of Enoch, Sibylline Oracles, Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha,
Catholics and Protestants, and even Nostradamus.

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To anyone who may disagree with me on some point, I want to challenge you to prove me wrong! Yes, take what I have written and analyze it and show me how and why my interpretation of a particular passage is wrong.

I give this challenge because people don’t really know why they believe what they believe. They like to make blanket statements based on long-held beliefs that cannot be supported by a careful analysis of Scripture. Also, if I happen to be wrong on some point I want to know it so I can correct my belief on that subject.

I know that selling a new interpretation will be difficult. The Wright Brothers were flying and charging the public for flights, or perhaps to watch flights (I cannot remember which), for 2 years before the press would even report on it. The press just did not believe the Wright Brothers had actually flown. Likewise, many people do not believe a new interpretation is possible; or at least not a believable one.

Innovation never comes from the established institutions; it’s always a graduate student or a crazy person or somebody with a great vision.” (Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, CBS/60 Minutes interview)



Copyright 2014 by Michael D. Fortner