Water, Oil and Iraq’s Climate Future

Dennis Brasky

For 40 years, the Iraqi state has lurched from crisis to crisis as wars and domestic conflicts have devastated the country’s infrastructure and institutions. The Iran-Iraq war was followed by 13 years of punishing economic sanctions, which began in the 1990s. The 2003 Anglo-US invasion of Iraq has left the state, 20 years later, in political and economic disarray.

These shocks have taken tolls on the environment by displacing water resources, eroding infrastructure that could mitigate climate damage and enabling the unfettered extraction of oil. They have rendered Iraq—a country that has always faced occasions of extreme heat and aridity—among the more vulnerable countries in the Middle East to climate change.