Iraq sandstorms: The dual threat of climate change and bad governance
The recent sandstorms that have swept across Iraq portend a troubling future for the nation and the rest of the region. While they are a natural phenomena exacerbated by climate change, they are becoming more intense due to poor policies managing water and green spaces — a failure of Iraqi governance since the 2003 war.
Today, the sandstorms are more frequent and more persistent, shutting down air traffic and leading to hospitalisations. The storms are expected to grow even more intense amid higher temperatures and irregular rainfall, leading to more droughts. The rapid drying out of the land leads to soil degradation and accelerates desertification, contributing to yet more sandstorms.
In Iraq, environmental collapse will exacerbate food and water insecurity, further undermining the country’s precarious national security situation. In Basra, mass protests have erupted repeatedly in the past few years over unreliable water services, leading to clashes with government security forces and Iraqi militias.