‘Vicious cycle’: Storms intensify in the Gulf as climate changes | Climate Crisis News


In latest weeks, many within the Gulf have been trying as much as an apocalyptic orange sky with a flurry of sand and dirt storms (SDSs) battering the sub-region.

Development of extra dams, years of warfare, mismanagement of water, excessive dryness, desertification, and different components all contribute to this nightmarish phenomenon.

In an more and more climate-stressed planet, storms in these largely desert international locations, which exist in a dust belt, are set to accentuate. What comes with these exacerbated ecological crises are more and more dire threats to human well being, economies, and safety within the Gulf.

These transregional points even have a lot potential to be a driver of future interstate conflicts throughout the higher Center East.

Final month’s non permanent closure of ports, airports, and colleges in Iran, Iraq, and a few Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states underscored the extent to which latest SDSs have taken a serious toll on commerce, journey, and every day life for the folks of those international locations.

Kuwait Worldwide Airport suspended all flights twice final month. On Might 16, maritime operations in three Kuwaiti ports – Doha, Shuaiba, and Shuaikh – had been suspended due to the weather conditions. Sand and dirt storms hit Riyadh and different components of Saudi Arabia leading to at the very least 1,200 folks being hospitalised within the kingdom with respiration difficulties in Might.

Dubai’s Burj Khalifa was not visible after an enormous mud layer vanished the world’s tallest constructing.

In Tehran, authorities closed colleges and authorities places of work whereas there have been dozens of flight delays or cancelations in western Iran. In Khuzestan, Iran’s hardest hit area, at the very least 800 folks with respiration difficulties had been pressured to hunt remedy.

Maybe Iraq has been the nation most weak to sand and dirt storms. Since March, there was a storm hitting Iraq roughly every week, sending 1000’s of Iraqis to hospitals and the federal government declaring a nationwide vacation to encourage residents and authorities staff to remain residence. At services in sure components of the nation, Iraq’s well being ministry even resorted to stockpiling oxygen canisters.

These ecologically disastrous situations within the Gulf are merely the most recent signal of the hazards that local weather change and different associated components pose to the Center East.

“In Gulf waters, SDSs are a principal reason for sediments that may clog up close by lakes and marshlands, and typically even cowl massive swathes of the Gulf waterway,” wrote Banafsheh Keynoush, a overseas affairs scholar and a fellow on the Worldwide Institute for Iranian Research.

“Even renewable photo voltaic panels malfunction when coated by mud. Given these components, it turns into evident that SDSs take part in a vicious cycle: Local weather change causes the storms, and the storms exacerbate the impacts of local weather change. Socio-economic life revolves round climate patterns, so livelihoods are severely threatened,” added Keynoush.

In accordance with the World Financial institution, sand and dirt storms within the Center East include an annual price of $13bn. To make certain, such storms within the area represent a transregional disaster. Aware of the Center East’s significance to the worldwide economic system from the standpoint of worldwide commerce through strategic waterways and power provides, international locations removed from the Gulf can pay a steeper worth because the phenomenon exacerbates.

Alternative for armed teams

Disturbingly, there’s a rising menace of violence due to sand and dirt storms. For years, the armed group ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq has exploited the shortage of visibility ensuing from these storms to hold out assaults with higher ease.

In Might, ISIL carried out lethal attacks in Kirkuk and Diyala provinces, concentrating on farmers who had been harvesting crops. In April, ISIL exploited the big storms to strike in opposition to the Iraqi military in al-Anbar province’s city of Hit, killing two troopers.

Naturally, Iraq’s safety forces can have difficulties dealing with SDSs that go away them extra uncovered to future ISIL assaults. With this excessive climate requiring the army to place a few of their operations and aerial assist on maintain, fighters can have a better time exploiting these storms to wage extra frequent assaults in opposition to the Iraqi army and civilians, significantly in additional distant areas.

Past issues about terrorism, consultants warn these uncommon storms have the potential to spur interstate conflicts within the area over water. Environmental crises associated to low rainfall, drought, and declining river ranges can serve to intensify tensions between international locations.

Turkey’s damming of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is one issue resulting in extra desertification in Iraq, the place water assets have fallen 50 p.c since 2021, with a backflow from the Gulf into Iraq’s mainland.

“Saltwater is definitely coming in from the ocean into freshwater areas,” Tallha Abdulrazaq, an professional in Center Japanese strategic and safety affairs, instructed Al Jazeera. “That is killing arable land, inflicting salinisation of soil, and finally resulting in desertification.”

Iran’s digging of canals across the Bahmanshir River, a tributary to the Shatt-al-Arab, “has artificially altered the midpoint Taluk line within the Shatt al-Arab, which traditionally – and significantly because the Algiers Accords – has demarcated the boundary between Iran and Iraq throughout the Shatt-al-Arab”, defined Abdulrazaq.

“Mainly, the water line has been break up down the center between the 2. By artificially altering this border, this may result in a battle not solely over the borders and entry to the Shatt-al-Arab, but in addition to air pollution of Iraq’s water provide.”


The problem of Turkey’s dams can also be including stress to Ankara’s relationship with Tehran with Iranian officers partly attributing their nation’s drought to Turkey’s upstream dam-building.

On Might 12, a spokesman for Turkey’s overseas ministry dismissed such accusations as “removed from scientific”, whereas sustaining that Tehran isn’t taking a “sensible strategy” to this drawback by placing blame on Ankara’s doorstep.

Because the sand and dirt storms terrify folks in Iraq and different international locations of the area, the intense results of desertification are solely set to accentuate whereas international warming has the potential to make decreases in rainfall extra everlasting with a devastating impact on the ecology.

Amongst different components, these terrifying environmental points may be drivers of future conflicts within the Center East.

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