As the world focuses on Aleppo, roughly 367 miles east an impending crisis looms – the collapse of the Mosul Dam.
The Mosul Dam is a large piece of infrastructure which regulates the Tigris River and generates power to the region. The location of the dam is atop of rapidly eroding rock. For years, engineers have warned of the imminent collapse of the dam, which would create a massive flood, killing an estimated 1.5 million people.
According to scientists, environmentalists, and engineers alike, the collapse of the Mosul Dam will be worse than a nuclear bomb. As Iraqi forces continue to fight ISIS to take back Mosul, the urgency to repair the Mosul Dam is greater than ever.
The Mosul Dam was completed in 1984 and is structurally sound in itself. The problem lies in the foundation on which it was built. To put it bluntly, and in the words of Azzam Alwash an Iraqi-American civil engineer, “it’s just in the wrong place.” The foundation of the Mosul Dam was built on gypsum, a soluble rock that dissolves in water, and without continuous maintenance, the foundation will wash away.
Currently, the Mosul Dam holds back 11 trillion liters of water from Mosul and, should the dam collapse, it would engulf Mosul and a string of cities all the way to Baghdad in a massive tidal wave 45 feet high. The worse part is that there is no way to predict if or when the Mosul Dam will breach; it is like a nuclear bomb with an unpredictable fuse.
In an attempt to correct the problem, the Italian company TREVI is carrying out maintenance works on the dam, as well as consolidating foundations as part of a $300m contract funded by the World Bank. However, the outlook for the Mosul Dam in avoiding a total collapse is bleak at best. Scientists have weighed in and said the maintenance work being done is merely delaying the inevitable.
The warnings about Mosul Dam’s frail state, coupled with the continued battle between Iraqi forces and ISIS, has a lot of Iraqis worried, especially if ISIS decides to take aim at the Mosul Dam and blow it up or at the very least use it to blackmail the government in Baghdad into submission, forcing them to submit to their demands.
When it comes to using terror to wage war, ISIS makes Al Qaeda look like a JV basketball team, but the probability of ISIS actually blowing up the Mosul Dam does not necessarily align with their MO. ISIS would only use the Mosul Dam as their trump card should they find themselves with their backs against the wall.
In the meantime, TREVI engineers are optimistic about their ability to fix the dam before it collapses. Between the political instability of the region and the ongoing war against ISIS to take back Mosul, TREVI is in a race against the clock.
Mary Anna Mancuso, Political Strategist and Founder of PoliticalHype.com. She is a regular contributor to Political Storm.