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The Water Diplomat Talks - Jayantika Kutty, Strategic Foresight Group - Researchers Document 51 Attacks On Middle East Water Infrastructure Since 2012


Jayantika Kutty, Research Analyst with think-tank Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) speaks with David Duncan, Publisher, OOSKAnews in this (LINK) OOSKAnewscast audio interview.

This OOSKAnewscast was recorded on the occasion of the release of SFG’s third Blue Peace Bulletin, “The Middle East Blue Strike List” (THE FULL BULLETIN CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE).
Kutty is part of the research team behind “Blue Peace Bulletins”, monthly publications which highlight issues related to water and violence in different geographic regions. She holds an MA in International Law and the Settlement of Disputes from the United Nations mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. SFG is a Mumbai, India-based international think-tank engaged in crafting new policy concepts that enable decision makers to prepare for a future in uncertain times. Kutty describes that from 2013 to 2017, Islamic State (known as ISIS/IS/ISIL or Daesh) carried out a number of attacks which used water either directly or indirectly.
Clashes between ISIS and various governmental/ non- governmental forces also led to lakes, rivers and other water bodies being diverted or poisoned, making water a deliberate or incidental weapon in the Syria war. Airstrikes conducted by the United States of America (US)-led international coalition, Russian Forces or Syrian Armed Forces also hit and damaged water infrastructure, water pipes and led to millions of people in Iraq and Syria getting sporadic and limited access to water. The “Blue Strike List” provides details of 51 attacks that have taken place between 2012 and 2018 in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The attacks have been categorized into three types, either “Direct Target”, “Weapon” or “Indirect Target”, based on the kind of attack.
Three Categories of “Blue Strikes”

Strategic Foresight Group researchers define “Blue Strikes” as follows:

  • Direct Target - A direct target is a focused attack on water or water-related infrastructure, such as an attack on a dam or a water pipeline. For example, fighting between ISIS and anti-ISIS militias hit a water pipeline that cut off water supplies for 650,000 people in Mosul.
  • Weapon - A weapon is an attack where water is used or there is a threat to use water as a means of violence, such as threatening to cut off a water source or flooding of a region. For example, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) controlled the water resources in the northern part of the Tigris River which provided the water for central and southern Iraq and KRG had threatened to cut off this source of water when it felt the Iraqi government had not followed through on promises to the KRG.
  • Indirect Target - An indirect target is an attack on areas surrounding water infrastructure without the express intention of hitting or damaging the water infrastructure, where water infrastructure is attacked incidentally. For example, the US-led coalition conducted airstrikes against ISIS in order to weaken ISIS’s hold in the region, thereby destroying the main pipeline supplying water to Raqqa.

Further Reading: Other SFG “Blue Peace Bulletins”

Yemen, released January 2019:

In “Water and Vioence: Yemen” Strategic Foresight Group examines the issue of protecting water in Yemen.

Ukraine, released February 2019:

Strategic Foresight Group’s “Water and Violence: Ukraine” examines the prospects of securing critical water infrastructure in Donbass? What can be done by the relevant actors and the international community?