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Neglect May Do What ISIS Didn’t: Breach Iraqi Dam – The New York Times


Mosul Dam, which was completed in 1984 by a German and Italian consortium and is 30 miles upstream from the city of Mosul, has long been a maintenance nightmare. Before fighters from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, swept across northern Iraq in 2014, approximately 600 Iraqis worked at the dam.

Because the water was eating away at the gypsum base under the dam, Iraqi teams drilled holes in that foundation and filled them with a cement grout mixture. That work was carried out three times a day, six days a week.

The Islamic State controlled the dam for a little more than a week in August 2014, but its fighters did not damage the structure. After it was retaken later that month, however, many of the Iraqi workers never returned and the Iraqi government did not resume regular maintenance. The Iraqis also lost their usual source of grouting material, which was produced by a factory in Mosul, now under the control of the Islamic State.

As worries about the dam mounted, the Obama administration formed an interagency team and installed 92 instruments to measure, among other things, the pressure on the dam and the sediment in the water nearby — one way of assessing the rate at which the gypsum base was disintegrating.

The Obama administration ruled out undertaking the costly repair project itself, and the Pentagon has been reluctant to set up a base near the dam to protect the repair efforts.

So the Obama administration has sought to help the Iraqis defray some of the cost by urging the World Bank to agree that $200 million of a $1.2 billion loan for Iraq would be for Mosul Dam repairs. International companies were informed by American officials that they would need to negotiate directly with the Iraqis and make their own security arrangements.

via Neglect May Do What ISIS Didn’t: Breach Iraqi Dam – The New York Times.

Iraq is gradually becoming another failed state.  What Saddam Hussein couldn’t do, and George W. Bush couldn’t do, the passage of time and neglect will do.


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