- This week Ramadi fell to IS forces perhaps permanently.
- Ramadi is key to resupplying Iraqi government's remaining positions west of Ramadi which includes the Haditha Dam. Unless it is reopened it is unlikely that supplies will be able to reach key locations to the west.
- When the Haditha Dam falls to IS forces it will give them control of water feeding downstream Shia territories with potentially devastating consequences.
“In the struggle to retain Ramadi, the city had become a symbol of joint Iraqi army-Sunni tribal resistance, the [Institute for the Study of War] said.
“The fall of the city thus represents a major blow to the security of Iraq in general and of Anbar Province in particular,” the report said. “Ramadi strengthens ISIS’s military posture in western Iraq and places ISIS in a position to dictate the terms of battle elsewhere in Anbar province. ISIS’s presence in Ramadi severs supply lines connecting Baghdad to ISF-controlled districts in western Anbar, such as Haditha, the Haditha Dam, and al Asad Airbase, which houses U.S. personnel, making them more susceptible to attacks by ISIS.”
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Water expert Hassan al-Janabi warned the Iraqi government of the consequences if ISIS seizes the Haditha Dam, saying that this would be a major disaster for the areas of the center and the south.
Jannabi told Al-Akhbar, “The Haditha Dam is the second largest dam in Iraq after the Mosul Dam. It is located on the Upper Euphrates basin, and has a storage capacity of 8.3 billion cubic meters and a storage area of 503 square kilometers. It has six radial gates that regulate the flow of water through the dam.”
Jannabi continued, “The disaster is that if ISIS seizes the dam it would fully control the Euphrates River by controlling the dam’s water output. We fear ISIS would do what it had done with the Fallujah Dam, which it had closed fully, cutting off water from the center and the south, and flooding vast areas from Fallujah all the way to Abu Ghraib on the outskirts of Baghdad.”
The Euphrates emerges again out of the gates of the Haditha dam into Ramadi then Fallujah, before making its way to central Iraq, where it flows to the cities of the Babel province, then Karbala, Najaf, Qadisiyah, Samawah, and Nasiriyah, passing through Basra, before reaching Shatt al-Arab in the far south of Iraq.
Following this path, the Euphrates traverses seven provinces in central and southern Iraq, which happen to be majority-Shia areas. These regions rely completely on the river, especially given the high salinity of the groundwater in those areas, making it difficult to process for drinking and cooking purposes in particular.In light of Haditha’s strategic importance, a number of political and security experts have called on the government to send reinforcements to the area and work on retaking the Hīt district, to allow supply routes to reconnect to the city of Ramadi.
Political analyst Aref al-Darraji called on the government and the general command of the armed forces to act quickly to lift the siege on the Haditha district and liberate Hīt. Darraji said, “ISIS’ control of Haditha and its dam would spell certain death for the people of the center and the south, because all reports indicate the group intends to close down the gates completely and stop the flow of the Euphrates, which would completely dry up more than seven governorates.” http://www.albawaba.com/news/haditha-dam-key-leaders-plans-choke-southern-iraq-613707