Looming Drought of al-Azim Marshland.. Oil Field Expansion Raises Environmental Alarm: Iranian Media


Shafaq News/ Iran's Etimad newspaper on Wednesday rang the bells about the desiccation of "Hawr al-Azim (the Great Hor)", a huge Marshland that sprawls inside Iranian and Iraqi territories.

The predicament, according to the newspaper, traces its roots back to the nascent expansion procedures carried out at the border "Sohrab" oilfield.

"The imminent onset of operations in the field has set the stage for a likely desiccation of the marshes," it said.

Contradictorily, Iranian regulatory authorities have previously asserted that no official permits were granted for operationalizing the project, thereby casting a pall of ambiguity over the endeavor's legitimacy.

Being one of the largest marshlands in Iran, Hor al-Azim straddles the Iran-Iraq border, nestled between the Iranian province of Khuzestan and Maysan in Iraq.

This vast expanse is characterized by low-lying wetlands, typically awash with lush grasses, reeds, and a diverse range of aquatic flora, establishing a unique ecosystem, teeming with life, and thriving in the abundance of moisture.

In the era following Saddam Hussein's regime, a rehydration initiative breathed new life into those marshlands, following ill-advised attempts at desiccation. While this initiative returned substantial portions of the marshland to their former aquatic glory, some tracts have since been commandeered for agricultural exploits, and others punctuated by burgeoning residential settlements.

The sustenance of Hor al-Azim, the Great Marchland, relies on a network of internal and external water outlets, including the Mashrah River and the rivers of Tayyeb, Duweirij, Karkheh, Nisan, and Khafajiyah. Their water supply ebbs and flows, perpetually struggling to compensate for the shortfall in the marshland. Serving as a natural demarcation between Iran and Iraq, the marshland sprawls from Mashrah up to Hawr Umm Nuaj.

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