L. Paul Bremer, III
Coalition Provisional Authority
Transition: Ministry of Water Resources
10 May 2004
Today we pass another milestone on the path to full Iraqi sovereignty—as the
Ministry of Water Resources becomes fully autonomous. In just 52 days full
sovereignty will rest in Iraqi hands.
Mr. Minister, for the Ministry of Water Resources this change is a formality.
Because for months you and your staff at the ministry have carried out your
duties with practiced professionalism.
Nevertheless, I am pleased to formally pass full authority for Iraq’s water
resources to your hands today.
Before I do that, I want to note just a few of the many things you and your
staff, working together with Senior Advisor Dr. Theriot and his predecessors,
• By arranging to receive weekly reports from Turkey on the status of reservoirs
there, you have improved Iraq’s irrigation and hydroelectric power management.
• You have begun the process of restoring southern Iraq’s marshlands. Now, some
30 percent of the lands which were deliberately drained by Saddam have been
• You have cleared over 17,000 kilometers of irrigation canals which had become
clogged with water plants and other debris.
This last project is of very obvious importance. Today Iraq has 27,000
kilometers of irrigation canals. But thousands of kilometers of canals became
almost useless due to Saddam’s intentional neglect. Without these canals much of
Iraq’s agriculture would literally dry up and blow away—taking with it 20
percent of Iraq’s economy.
But this canal-clearing is part of an Iraqi historical process almost as old as
human civilization. The people who became Iraqis began irrigating about 5,000
years ago in the Land between the Two Rivers. No where on earth did people start
bringing water to dry land any earlier than right here in Iraq.
This means, Mr. Minister, that before Abram left Ur of the Chaldees, Iraqis were
digging irrigation canals, clearing them of weeds and making sure that farmers
had the water to feed the people of the Land between Two Rivers.
Canal clearing is so important that we are going to repeat last year’s program.
Today I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Water Resources, working in
cooperation with the Coalition, will clear canals again this year. During the
course of this project some 100,000 workers will be employed—clearing the 7,000
kilometers of canals not cleared last year and performing routine maintenance on
another 13,000 kilometers. This $35 million project begins on May 14.
Mr. Minister, I congratulate you and all your employees all over Iraq as you
continue one of civilization’s oldest and most noble duties.
Mabruk al Iraq al Jadeed.