Saturday, April 01, 2006

Azzam from Mesopotamia and The Garden of Eden's modern day Baptizer

Satellite images of Iraq's marshland in May 2003 (left) & March 2005 (right) - the dark areas are flooded. Images from UNEP.

The word 'Mesopotamia' is in origin a Greek name (mesos 'middle' and potamos 'river', so 'land between the rivers'). The name is used for the area watered by the Euphrates and Tigris and its tributaries, roughly comprising modern Irak and part of Syria. South of modern Bagdad, the alluvial plains of the rivers were called the land of Sumer and Akkad in the third millennium. Sumer is the most southern part, while the land of Akkad is the area around modern Bagdad, where the Euphrates and Tigris are close to each other. This is also the Land of Ur of the Chaldees a hegemony in early history and the birthplace of Abraham(the father of the Jewish race,the spiritual father of Christians (cf. Rom 4:16) and the Moslems consider him their father in faith--as well as the father of the Arab people for he is the biological of Ishmael). Ur was a city in central Mesopotamia and western bank of the Euphrates.(present day Iraq). God told Abraham to leave the land of your kinfolk and from your fathers house your father (Ur) and go to a land I will show you(Gen 12:1). -see map of Father Abraham's travels below -
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flowed through the Garden of Eden on their path to the Persian Gulf. Since the Tigris and Euphrates are the rivers of Chaldea it is likely the Garden of Eden was in this area.
Below I've collected excerpts which provide good background info on my brother's Iraqi-American engineer friend and Marsh Wetland director, Azzam Alwash, Ph.D.,
who is a man between to cultures and two political systems. Juan Carlos has been in contact with him and he would welcome the opportunity to speak to an accomphished New Media Journalist like Hugh Hewitt regarding Iraq. Dr. Alwash realizes that the press is focusing on the negative only. Granted it is dicey there at the present per Dr. Alwash. However, if the US doesn't back out there is great potential. He is very fond and happy with the Afghani-American Ambassador appointed by President Bush, Zalmay Khailzad, who is very capable and knows the culture and its games. Dr. Alwash's plan would be to set up the Marsh Wetlands as a travel destination for Eco-tourists and as a Pilgrimage center since this is the Genesis land of Ur or birthplace of Abraham. Very interesting plan.
From NY Times:
Politics, Iraqi Style: Slick TV Ads, Text Messaging and Gunfire

"I think these negative tactics will backfire," said Azzam Alwash, an ebullient 47-year-old civil engineer who is co-director of the campaign for Mr. Allawi's coalition. Like almost all of his counterparts in these elections, he has no prior experience in the field, though he oversees 80 campaign workers with a budget of $2.5 million. He toils in a "war room" in Mr. Allawi's Baghdad headquarters, where staff members work 18-hour days and coordinate satellite offices in all of Iraq's provinces.
"Our posters got pulled down too, so we decided the best way was with TV, radios and newspapers," Mr. Alwash said. Like many other groups, Mr. Allawi's has its own newspaper and enough money to pay for plenty of television and radio time. About 6 of the nearly 20 Iraqi television stations - and about half of the 200 Iraqi newspapers - are owned by parties. Rates for political spots on the larger Baghdad stations run as high as $3,000 per minute.
At his own desk, Mr. Alwash clicked on an Internet link and a song began to play: a campaign tune recorded last month by Elham al-Madfai, one of Iraq's best-known singers. The words, written in 1941, are about a doctor who can solve all the patient's problems. Every time the word doctor comes up in the song, the accompanying video shows a smiling Mr. Allawi.
"We're playing it all over our radio stations," Mr. Alwash said.
Like Mr. Kifai, Mr. Alwash says he believes the culprit in the poster-tearing - and other incidents involving underhanded tactics - is the United Iraqi Alliance, a religious Shiite group whose main parties now control the government. "We have videos and photographs of police defacing our posters and putting up posters for 555," Mr. Alwash said, referring to the Shiite alliance by its ballot number.

From CNN: "Sixty percent of the fish consumed in Iraq in 1990 was from the marshes," said Dr. Azzam Alwash, director of the Eden Again project, one of the groups charged with rebuilding the wetlands." From Opinion Journal
Beyond Fallujah:
A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq.

Monday, November 22, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

"You can read this update on the international effort to bring back to life Iraqi marshlands, drained by Saddam as a collective punishment for Marsh Arabs:
With funding from Japan, Italy, Canada and the United States, the program will launch an international restoration effort. The Iraqi government is running the project with cooperation from the U.N. Environment Programme. Scientists plan to use environmentally sound technologies to develop sanitation and water treatment systems, restore the natural water cycle to the marshes and attempt to resurrect the ecology and local society in the process.
Some progress has already been made. Once Saddam was expelled from Baghdad, Marsh Arabs breached dams and canals to re-flood a large area of the wetlands in 2003. "Forty percent of the marshes are now inundated with water," Dr. Azzam Alwash(director of the restoration Eden Again project) said. "Some areas have recovered very well, and other areas are doing very poorly."
"Kayaking in Southern California with his wife and daughters, Azzam Alwash PhD 1989 smiles, remembering the waters of his childhood in Iraq.

As a boy, he had joined his father on visits to villages throughout the southern Iraqi marshlands. He saw grass houses perched on floating islands woven of reed and silt, children fishing and playing, people tending herds of water buffalo. It all looked like a recreation of Sumerian scenes depicted in 8,000-year-old clay tablets unearthed by archeologists from ancient Ur.

When he was 20, Alwash was told he would have to join Saddam's Baathist party to continue his university studies. He refused, and left for America that year in 1979 to complete his education. After earning an undergraduate degree in engineering at Cal State Fullerton, he came to USC for his doctorate. Here, Alwash met and married Suzie (Reynolds) Alwash MS 1984, PhD 1988, then a graduate student in geology.

Recounting his boyhood travels in the Iraqi marshlands, Alwash promised his new wife that, one day, they would kayak the reed forests of his homeland.

"I fell in love with Azzam," says Suzie Alwash, "and then I fell in love with the marshes, even though I had never been there."

Neither knew when they met, of course, that just over a decade later, they would be working to assemble leading scientists from around the world to undertake the most ambitious ecological restoration effort in human history.

A more storied land would be difficult to imagine. Mesopotamia was the crucible of Western civilization, home to Babylon and Ur, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Biblical scholars believe that the stories of Eden and the Great Flood are rooted in the vast, verdant marshlands of lower Mesopotamia and thousands of square miles of abundant reed stands interspersed with cottonwood, tamarisk and the world's largest date palm groves.

Before the 1990s, the marshlands of modern-day Iraq were the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East and western Asia. Set amid unforgiving, cauterized desert, the wet abundance of the marshlands provided safe harbor for hundreds of species of wildlife."

Truly this 'Mesopotamian' man, Azzam Alwash, embodies the Greek definition of mesos or 'middle' and potamos or 'river' and is a true Patriot to his two lands which lay between two rivers, the Potomac in Washington D.C., the adopted river of his adulthood and the Euprates/Tigris, the rivers of his birth and childhood! Truly Azzam's very own words capture the American Spirit and Ethos that makes ours a great country of Immigrants: "Reclaiming the marshlands from oblivion will give not just Marsh Arabs but all Iraqis hope for the future. Restoration of the marshes is a great symbol and bringing back to life – from the dust and salt of the current destruction to this the cradle of Western civilization is the best metaphor I can think symboling the rebirth of Iraq.”
Thank you Drs. Azzam and Suzie Alwash for the "Baptismal" waters of life you and your family's work will bring to the Birthplace of Western Civilization.....
Dominus Vobiscum("Lord be with you")!
Francis Xavier Yubero, M.D.

More Links to Drs. Alwashs' work:


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