A public work can be turned into a weapon of mass destruction.
Sunni militants captured the Mosul dam, the largest in Iraq, on Thursday as their advances in the country’s north created an onslaught of refugees and set off fearful rumors in Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital.
Residents near the dam and officials in the region confirmed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, held the dam, a potentially catastrophic development for Iraq’s civilian population.
The dam, which sits on the Tigris River and is about 30 miles northwest of the city of Mosul, provides electricity to Mosul and controls the water supply for a large amount of territory. A report published in 2007 by the United States government, which had been involved with work on the dam, warned that should it fail, a 65-foot wave of water could be unleashed across areas of northern Iraq.
The top of a mountain can become a tomb.
Far away from the hotly covered regions of the world, there is an unfolding humanitarian crisis —others say emerging genocide — occurring on a dust-choked spit of earth called Sinjar Mountain. On Wednesday, reports The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris, Iraqi helicopters dropped supplies — but would they be enough?
The mountain is inhabited by tens of thousands of exiled residents, many who belong to a little-known but ancient ethnic group, the Yazidis. There, according to this harrowing report by Morris, they can’t dig into the earth, so dead children and elderly are buried under stones.
“There are children dying on the mountain, on the roads,” Marzio Babille, the Iraqi representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund, told The Post. “There is no water, there is no vegetation, they are completely cut off and surrounded by Islamic State. It’s a disaster, a total disaster.”
The Yazidis are just the latest minority group the Islamic State has targeted in its brutal campaign of religious persecution and killings. While many recent Iraqi conflicts have been framed as clashes between Sunnis and Shiites, this one is different. The Islamic State has declared war against anyone different, anyone unwilling to convert to the its ascetic brand of Islam. It’s worse, Iraqi religious leaders say, than Genghis Khan. Overnight, the BBC and others reported that thousands of Christians were fleeing the minority’s biggest town in Iraq, Qaragosh, after militants captured it.
ISIS is fast becoming a cancer state, threatening to gobble up and destroy everything around it. The world outside Iraq is showing little interest in stopping them. Obama won’t rally and lead. The UN is too busy picking on Israel for defending itself against an enemy that is similar to ISIS.
We lost a two-star general in Afghanistan this week, Maj. Gen. Harold Greene. He was murdered by one of the Afghan troops the US has spent mountains of treasure and lakes of blood to train. Greene died in another “insider” attack, one of many that suggest that our ongoing presence in Afghanistan is futile.
And yet if we leave, does ISIS or something like it just sweep everything and everyone aside and turn Afghanistan back into another cancer state?