Skip to main content

Iraq swept by tenth sandstorm in weeks

An Iraqi man is treated for breathing difficulties at a Baghdad hospital's emergency ward as choking clouds of dust blanket the Iraqi capital on June 13, 2022 for the tenth time since mid-April
— Baghdad (AFP)

Iraq temporarily closed Baghdad airport Monday as choking clouds of dust blanketed the capital, the latest crippling sandstorm in a country that has warned climate change poses an "existential threat".

It was the tenth such storm since mid-April to hit Iraq, which has been battered by intense droughts, soil degradation, high temperatures and low rainfall linked to climate change.

Earlier this month, to mark World Environment Day, President Barham Saleh warned that tackling climate change "must become a national priority for Iraq as it is an existential threat to the future of our generations to come".

The sun eventually reappeared on Monday afternoon, after a thick white dust had covered Baghdad and surrounding areas through the morning, with visibility slashed to a few hundred metres (yards).

Officials at Baghdad airport announced the temporary suspension of flights, before they were restarted at around 10:30 am (0730 GMT).

In Najaf, a Shiite holy city in central Iraq, the airport briefly suspended operations in the morning before reopening a few hours later when the dust passed.

Thick white dust covers the Iraqi capital Baghdad with visibility down to a few hundred metres on June 13, 2022

Airports have been forced to suspend flights several times due to sandstorms in recent weeks.

In May, sandstorms sent thousands of people to hospital with respiratory problems, and left one person dead.

Iraq, which is entering the scorching summer season when temperatures at times surpass 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), is ranked by the United Nations as one of the world's five most vulnerable nations to climate change and desertification.

The environment ministry has warned that over the next two decades Iraq could endure an average of 272 days of sandstorms per year, rising to above 300 by 2050.

The World Bank warned in November that Iraq could suffer a 20 percent drop in water resources by 2050 due to climate change.

Water shortages have been exacerbated by the building of upstream dams in neighbouring Turkey and Iran.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial