End of a bit of
The 5,000-year-old way of life of the Marsh Arabs, celebrated by Wilfred Thesiger among others, has long been under threat. Its final disappearance is documented in “The Iraqi Marshlands” edited by Emma Nicholson and Peter Clark, and published this week by Politico's. As the accompanying map suggests, Saddam Hussein's aggressive drainage programme in the 1990s, which had the dual purpose or reclaiming land and pursuing rebels hiding in the waterways, turned much of the marshland into desert, depopulating the area. Some 200,000 of the inhabitants fled, many of them to refugee camps in Iran. The damage is probably irretrievable.