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Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Featured, Middle East | 3 comments

The Mosul Dam: an Unlikely Weapon of Unparalleled Force

The Mosul Dam: an Unlikely Weapon of Unparalleled Force

Mosul used to be the second largest city in Iraq and the Northwest commercial center, naturally leaving it with a relatively dense population. Enter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), rooted in al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the Islamist militant group responsible for international acts of terrorism and widespread seizing of territory in the Levant and beyond. In 2014, Mosul was seized during a widespread seizure of land and became the de facto capital of the ISIL organization. It was an easy target for the heavily armed group as Mosul’s security was understaffed and poorly equipped. Offers of Peshmerga assistance by the Kurdish President, Massoud Barzani, were denied, due to long held distrust and animosity between the Iraqi state and the Kurds. This seizure gave ISIL an advantageous location and position in order to continue its expansion over Iraq and Syria. This all precedes the current situation of the besieged Mosul, which has begun to transform rapidly.

Mosul, Iraq

Violence and terror have rocked the city, leaving mass destruction in its wake, while striking fear into the hearts and minds of Mosul’s inhabitants.  Many have fled, although they have no place to go, but many remain in the ravaged urban center. There is now an offensive, Operation Fatah, to retake Mosul and free the populations that have fallen under ISIL authority. State forces, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, a US air and ground coalition, as well as Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen, initiated the offensive on October 17th. Fighting has raged on since then, not only causing damage, but also putting the 1.5 million lives that remain in the city at stake. A humanitarian crisis that has become known all too well in the Levant is underway as hundreds of thousands flee, still leaving many to the mercy of the anarchic violence. There have been reports of ISIL members using Mosul inhabitants as human shields and shooting civilians that try to oppose them or are suspected of disloyalty.

Unfortunately, the past and current violence is not the most disheartening aspect of the Mosul conflict. There is a far worse calamity casting a dark shadow over Mosul and the surrounding areas: a disaster with far more horrific implications than the bloodshed brought on by the extremist group’s methods of terror. The Mosul dam, built in the mid-1980s, has a compromised structure that has worsened with time, requiring constant repairs and maintenance in order to keep it from bursting. If the dam were to burst, 1.5 million lives could be lost in the ensuing flood. The loss of life in this case would be 818 times higher than the death toll of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2015, which caused 1,833 deaths. This would be 8.1 times the total number of deaths resulting from the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which had an overall death toll of 185,000 people. The burst of the dam transcends both natural and manmade forces that have wreaked havoc in the past.  

Mosul Dam

This situation is now even more harrowing with the current offensive against ISIL that is forcibly driving them out of Mosul. Before, the group had a stake in the dam’s upkeep, as Mosul was a center for their operations. Now, if they are successfully removed from the territory, they may have a new initiative motivated by revenge: having the dam burst. Blowing up the dam or bringing it down by force would be no easy task, but it is also not a task that they would even have to attempt. As the dam requires daily maintenance, to counteract the eroding foundation on which it rests, the IS organization would simply need to prevent the engineers working on the dam from completing the repairs to the the best of their ability. It would be inaction, not action, that would cause the dam to burst, making this a more possible, and terrifying, reality. The burst would happen in a single moment, a flood the next, with an incomprehensible death toll to follow. The Mosul dam is an unintentional weapon that has the possibility of being unleashed by a group with the most aggressive of intent. No gun is capable of claiming the lives of 1.5 million people without someone needing to pull the trigger, allowing the situation at hand to be on an entirely new level of catastrophe. A force that attacks targets for their specific characteristics is petrifying, but a force that kills regardless of religion, sect, race, or ethnicity, is a paralyzing, existential nightmare that does not end with waking up, but rather never waking up.

The initial death toll would just be the starting point of an unbearable period of ruin to follow. Six million more could be affected with the predicted flow taking out power stations, agriculture, countless homes and even washing up in Baghdad…” Iraq’s development issues would be exacerbated, with an event of this magnitude having the ability to cause a drastic backslide in any improvements made to an ailing state that was desperately trying to build itself up. Iraq is already facing the effects of the conflict of the Syrian refugee crisis in addition to its own displacement disaster.

Refugees and security forces

Countless more Iraqis would be displaced, in addition onto the large number of them that have already left, throwing the region as a whole into a downward spiral of conflict and tension. Refugees have already presented economic strain to many surrounding states, like Lebanon, that have seen massive influxes of refugees from the overall conflict in the Middle East. If, at this moment in time, states are no longer capable of dealing with regional effects, they most definitely would not be capable of dealing with a crisis of this magnitude in the near, or even distant future. Weak alliances and ambiguous peace agreements would fall through the cracks as countries would face increased external pressure that would in turn, increase domestic tension.

The conflict in the Middle East has presented the region, and the world, with unprecedented issues that actors simply do not have the capacity to resolve. Resolution is not feasible at this point in time, as even the hope for survival has become increasingly futile. The violence that has grown and expanded is seen quite clearly in Mosul today, but as the Mosul dam shows, there are far worse underlying alternatives just below the surface. The hope for conditions to get better remains, but that ideal exists in an environment where the potential for conditions to get far worse is a harsh reality.

3 Comments

  1. Is this prophecy relevant?

    Bible, Nahum 1, King James Version (KJV)

    1 The burden (JUDGEMENT OF GOD) of Nineveh (MOSUL). The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. God is jealous and the Lord (JESUS) revengeth; the Lord revengeth and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.The Lord is slow to anger (has been patient) and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked (HE is JUST): the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm (HE IS BRINGING RAIN) and the clouds are the dust of his feet (RAIN IS COMING). He rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry and drieth up all the rivers (THERE IS A DAM): Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth (THERE HAS BEEN DROUGHT).The mountains quake at him (THE NATIONS ARE AFRAID) and the hills melt (PEOPLE IN POWER ARE TERRIFIED) and the earth is burned at his presence (H2SO4 -RAIN MIXED WITH ACID FROM WAR IS COMING TO THE AREA AND WILL DESTROY THE PLANTS), yea the world and all that dwell therein, (AN APPEAL FROM JESUS TO THE WATCHING WORLD) who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? (THE WORLD WILL WITNESS HIS JUDGEMENT OF MOSUL AS JESUS’ APPEALS TO THEM TO REPENT AND TURN TO HIM FOR SAVING FROM GOD”S FUTURE WRATH ON THE WHOLE WORLD) his fury is poured out like fire (WAR), and the rocks (LEADERS) are thrown down by him.The Lord (JESUS) is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him (HE WATCHES OVER THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM AND THEY WILL NOT EXPERIENCE GOD’s FUTURE WRATH). But with an overrunning flood (THE DAM IN MOSUL WILL GO) he will make an utter end of the place thereof (Mosul), and darkness (DEATH) shall pursue his enemies (water flooding through the dark tunnels of Mosul where DAESH hides). What do ye imagine against the Lord? (WHAT CAN YOU BE THINKING?!) he (GOD) will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.(COMPLETE ANNIHILATION FOR DAESH AND ISLAM IN MOSUL). For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards (WHILE THEY ARE DRUNK AND PASSED OUT ASLEEP), they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the Lord, a wicked counsellor (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi). Thus saith the Lord; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he (JESUS) shall pass through (AS WAR AND FLOODING WATER). Though I have afflicted thee (JEWS AND CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST), I will afflict thee no more. For now will I (JESUS) break his yoke (ISLAM IN MOSUL) from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder (FREE YOU FROM DAESH and ISLAM). And the Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown (DO NOT CONTINUE IN ISLAM): out of the house of thy gods (DAESH CAME OUT OF ISLAM) will I cut off the graven image and the molten image (I WILL ALSO DESTROY THE IDOLS FROM ANTIQUITY THROUGH DAESH): I will make thy grave (ISLAM); for thou art vile. Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace (JESUS)! O Judah (CHRISTIANS AND JEWS OF MOSUL), keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

    There will be much treasure (gold, etc) uncovered after this.

  2. Bible, Nahum Chapter 2, King James Version (KJV)

    He that dasheth in pieces (DAESH) is come up before thy face (THE EVIL OF DAESH HAS COME UP BEFORE GOD): keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily. (PREPARE DAESH) For the Lord hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.
    The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots (TANKS) shall be with flaming torches (MODERN WEAPONS) in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.The chariots (TANKS) shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings (MODERN WARFARE). He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared. (DAESH WILL DIG IN FOR DEFENSE)The gates of the rivers shall be opened (THE DAM WILL OPEN UP) and the palace (CURRENT ISIS HEADQUARTERS, FORMER PALACE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN) shall be dissolved.And Huzzab (HUZZAB MEANS “THE ESTABLISHED,” IE, THE RESIDENTS OF MOSUL) shall be led away captive (DAESH WILL TAKE MANY RESIDENTS CAPTIVE AS SHIELDS), she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts (CHRISTIANS GET OUT). But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water (MOSUL WOULD BE A LAKE IF NOT FOR THE DAM HOLDING THE WATER BACK AND MOSUL HAS BEEN A COMFORT): yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back (RESIDENTS SHALL FLEE AND DAESH WILL RUN). Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture. She is empty, and void, and waste (MOSUL): and the heart melteth and the knees smite together (PEOPLE ARE TERRIFIED), and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the lion’s whelp, and none made them afraid? The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots (TANKS) in the smoke (FIRE FROM WAR AND BURNING OIL WELLS), and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth (MANY WILL DIE, NOT JUST DAESH), and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard (DAESH IS FINISHED. THE LEADER OF DAESH IS DEAD, HIS TRAINEES ARE DEAD, NO MORE RECRUITING).

  3. “filled his holes with prey” (mass graves)

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