Mosul's Damn Dam

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann,

Last week, the barbaric Islamic State (IS) seized the vitally important Mosul dam, dramatically impacting tactical options against them and potentially changing the future of the Middle East.

When the US coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003, military intelligence developed invasion scenarios.  One scenario included Iraqi forces placing detonation charges at the vitally important dam.  If US forces were able to safely secure the dam, then they had a contingency plan to operate it and ensure critically important maintenance.  The US quickly discovered the necessity for $27 million worth of frantically urgent repairs.

Since the dam was completed in the mid-1980’s it has required continuous (daily) maintenance, because it was built on top of gypsum, a soft mineral which dissolves when in contact with water. More than 50,000 tons of materials have been injected into the dam since 1986.  The ‘sink hole’ type of cavities that constantly form have to be expeditiously plugged with “grout”, a liquefied mixture of cement and other additives.

A dam break does not require sabotage.  Maintenance failure has the same result.

In December of 2006, the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) detailed a comprehensive report on the dam’s structure.  The report called it, “the most dangerous dam in the world”, stating that even water pressure could buckle the flimsy foundation.

The Mosel dam is the fourth largest in terms of reservoir capacity in the Middle East with a capacity of 3 trillion gallons or 11.1 billion cubic meters.  It is a key component of Iraq’s power grid and source of water for irrigation.  It is located 31 miles north of the city of Mosul whose population is 1.7 million and 200 miles north of Bagdad.  A dam collapse would release the 360 feet high waterline and reach Mosul in 2 hours.

A USACE official wrote a report in 2011 that was published in Water Power magazine estimating that dam failure could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths.

In 2007, General Petraeus wrote a letter to the Iraqi PM warning of the safety concerns in the report and the consequences should the dam fail.  In paraphrasing the USACE report, his letter said that “despite continuous grouting… the safety of the dam cannot be assured”.   He went on to say that “…an instantaneous failure….could result in a flood wave 65 feet deep at the city of Mosul... and produce flooding all the way to Baghdad”.

President Obama recently authorized limited airstrikes in Iraq against IS.  He said they were to prevent a humanitarian crisis and to protect American lives and assets in Erbil and Baghdad.  He determined that there was risk of ‘genocide’ of the tens of thousands of Yazidis people trapped by IS in the mountains, as well as, risks to the consulate and American workers there, should Erbil be toppled.  There is still hope on both fronts.

However, the greatest foreign policy failure to date in trying to prevent a potential ‘genocide’ is arguably allowing IS to take over the dam in the first place.  The US has always known the importance of the dam.   Furthermore, just as we had the ability to get Bin Laden at Tora Bora and failed to act, US officials knew that the IS leadership was assembled in one place and decided not to take them out.

David Kotok discussed some of the serious implications that the takeover of the dam has for the region and the significant strategic impact it will have on military options going forward. The bottom line is as he states, “We confront a high probability of an adverse outcome regardless of the actions of the combatants on both sides.  There is no easy (way) out”.

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Kotok and his concluding remark that “this is a situation fraught with danger and risk”.  Market implications could potentially be great.  This situation bears close watching. 

Cash is king with optionality.

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” – Edgar Allan Poe

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NOTaREALmerican's picture

Didn't Charlton Heston do this movie already?

TheSecondLaw's picture

Yeah, but Russel Crowe wasn't happy with the ark that he built, so he did a remake.

Da Yooper's picture

The real question of the day


Does the US embassy in Fagdad


Have flood insurance ?????


It wasn't a hurricane, it was a flood. Sorry about your luck New Orleans. 

Bangin7GramRocks's picture

Why is it that we have no problem sending our drones to bomb people in 50 countries, but they couldn't let the video game nerds take out ISIS months ago? 

espirit's picture

Gypsum, huh?

Well now, Iraq is just a plethora of essential minerals and oils available for exploitation.


Bossman1967's picture

Now that the PM is gone they will get what they want and ISIS will blow the damn. Wish this would all play out the news is up and down so tomorrow all will be good dow up 300 gold up 50. Silver down 1$ due to this new exchange. Ukraine is invaded by Rusia by Friday at 5:00 so tje market forgets by Monday lets see how I do

TruthHunter's picture

Can someone give Obama the No Balls Prize?

Chandos's picture

The real question of the day


Does the US embassy in Fagdad


Have flood insurance ?????


Didn't Larry Silverstein buy that embassy just six months ago?

( for those who've read my posts before, yes, it's true, I just can't get over 9\11... ;)  )

ThisIsBob's picture

Another real question: Does it have a landing pad on the roof?

JohninMK's picture

Think the relevant film was called "The Dam Busters"

NEKO's picture

A (planned?) accident waiting to happen, almost as stupid as building a nuclear reactor on a known fault line...

q99x2's picture

Not IS. the barbaric Islamic State is BIS.

TheSecondLaw's picture

I take it Noah is building that ark. Fast.


Divert water to Vegas....problem solved. 

Ass. Manager's picture

Noah didn't build that ark.


Bossman1967's picture

Nope those refugees are doing it Nd he marines gonna steal it

max2205's picture

Is there a web cam on that sucker

It'll be like Mt St Hellen blowing

uno's picture

if hoover dam breaks watch out Vega. - oh nevermind

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

I've always got to chuckle at this biblical story but silently fret at how many adult human beings believe it. So, are descendent from Adam and Eve or Noah and his wife?

jballz's picture

There were eight people on the ark, Noah's kids and their wives. so if they all had kids who fucked their first cousins This would account for the humans of today. Except the asisans. Where did the Asians come from. The Jews were black and Jesus was Arab and I assume Noah was white so that covers everyone but the Asians.

Also where did he find elephants in judea, or tree frogs.

Yeah it is terrifying that there are adults who believe this shit. And they can vote.

exi1ed0ne's picture

Book: What are we up to, sweetheart?

River Tam: Fixing your Bible.

Book: I, um...


Book: What?

River Tam: Bible's broken. Contradictions, false logistics - doesn't make sense.

[she's marked up the bible, crossed out passages and torn out pages]

Book: No, no. You-you-you can't...

River Tam: So we'll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God's creation of Eden. Eleven inherent metaphoric parallels already there. Eleven. Important number. Prime number. One goes into the house of eleven eleven times, but always comes out one. Noah's ark is a problem.

Book: Really?

River Tam: We'll have to call it early quantum state phenomenon. Only way to fit 5000 species of mammal on the same boat.

[rips out page]

I miss that show, but can't have examples of anti-heroes rebelling against the Gov't can we?

2TonCat's picture

+1 for Firefly, can't believe it's been 12 years

Winston Churchill's picture

I have a map of its location on mount Arafat for sale ?

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

+1. You have fallen victim to the drive by down voters who give you a red for talking shit(sounded like an honest assessment to me) about their silly religion, but no one bothers to explain how you are wrong or how it would work. "It makes sense if you don't think about it"
Every time I make a comment about how religion is nothing but a means of control I get the same thing. If these people were so sure of the benevolence of their magical sky fairy you'd think they'd at least bother defending him.

himaroid's picture

Because that is why you guys never give up trying. You want to believe that this awesome universe is just some accidental thing. But deep in your hearts you know better. I understand the angst. I believe God makes himself known to everyone. Trying to deny him the rest of your life will make you go Robin Williams. Go ahead and thank God when you enjoy a nice breeze and a beautiful sunset, you will feel much better.

P.S. You can't put me or especially God in a box. I can say FUCK all I want and still get to heaven. 

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

" I can say FUCK all I want and still get to heaven."

Hahahaha - is that a piss take?

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

"But deep in your hearts you know better".


This is where we diverge himaroid. What the heck has the origin of the universe got to do with your heart? You don't think with your heart, your heart just pumps blood, you think with your brain. To an atheist sunshine, for example, is result of the fusion of two hydrogen atoms into a helium atom and releasing a prodigious amout of energy in the form of photons. To you, sunshine if a hug from god. We're talking on two different planes.

I personally don't give a shit if the universe was an accident or was created by god. Who the hell am I to have an opinion on this. All I care is an honest and objective investigation for all its futility, but hey, we're a curious ape. Your god exists in your mind and is to you what you are to your children. The great invisble grey bearded skyman is the cosmin father, someone you can metaphorically turn to when you feel sad or scared or uncertain. Wonderful, don't have any objection, the only objection I have is claiming this has anything to do with the external reality we call the universe. 

himaroid's picture

Bow your head to those atoms when you say that. You guys sure are evangelical in your efforts. No convert here.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Don't you feel ashamed or belittled to even propose that spending eternity in deference to some superior being is a good thing. Your use of words "bow your head" is so utterly evocative of your primordial desire to worship a king. Look, I know once brain washed it's very hard to undo, but when I point out to you the primitiveness of your use of words let alone complete belief system, does this not spark some dim and distant light of truth?

fel.temp.reparatio's picture

"...evangelical in your efforts."

Pot, meet kettle... kettle, pot.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Don't lose site of this simple fact GC. We are all programmed from birth with information from our parents, teachers and men is dresses, frocks and robes. It's worthy of mulling this point for a long time. This is why science has emerged as a means to bypass this pre-programming. Science isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but does offer a way to investigate the world independent of an individuals up-bringing. So regardless of your belief in the great invisible grey bearded skyman the speed of light measured in one laboratory on one side of the world will be the same as another laboratory on the opposite side of the world. If by reading the bible you have some bizarre interpretation of what you think the speed of light should be, great, you are free to measure it, but your measurement goes up for peer review.

In the end, insofar as the origin of the universe no one knows, no one will ever know, this is an indefinably beautiful characteristic of life. I suspect if we knew we'd be bitterly disappointed and disenchanted with the answer and probably still wouldn't be satisfied. One thing I am certain of though is that the current version of theistic belief is laughably wrong. For some reason this universe has the ability to subject the human being to some deviously sick ironies. But if it was possib;e to know that 99% of the stories regarding jesus christ have been fabricated and that all these thousands of years and billions of people have been wrong, just as the millions of predecessors to our culture have been wrong, what a Monty Pythonesk swan song of the human race.      

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Ah, the down votes. There's something very powerful in highlighting the truth. The truth being the whole Noah collecting two of every animal on the face of the earth and putting them in a big boat is so patently stupid that I doubt it was ever intended to be anything but a Hollywood type script inserted into the bible to break the monotony of all the killing, smiting, stoning, burning and begatting. Anyone down voting has to take a long hard look at their state of mind and realise they are actually the first of the sheeple, long before MSM converted the average citizen into a non-thinking automaton.

I wonder if the creationists who claim the earth is 6000 years old and that we all descended from Adam and Eve (despite everyone being wiped out in the great flood so therefore we all must have descended from Noah but that is one of the many stupidities overlooked and never spoken about) have run the numbers over the likelihood of being able to produce 7 billion people in 6000 years given a 9 month gestation, a massive historical infant mortality, a much lower average life span than today and a reproductive time frame for the average female of say 20 years (if that ! ! !). It's not possible people, it takes many hundreds of thousands of years to create the mess we have, even humans aren't so bad as to be able to create this mess in 6000 years.

You see, you gullible lot have been programmed with this nonsense and have never objectively just stood back and looked at the cold, hard, facts and to be frank, the utter dumbness of biblical claims. You're too far in to be able to say now "yeh, it is pretty stupid" because you have to save face. Just like the Fed will have to double down again and again and again because they do not want their world view exposed to be false. You're no different. Your world view, as it is based on the bible is false. End of story.

Despite me disagreeing vociferously with your world view I do give you asll credit for perusing a website like ZH that does at least expose you to alternative views. It'd be interesting to know of anyone who has had the guts to relinquish their monotheistic views after exposure to these threads.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Hahahaha, even if a cloud appears in the sky that vaguely resembles a face, thesists (god love them) claim it's jesus. This is horribly banal stuff and demonstrates just how rooted humans are in primitive thinking.  

StychoKiller's picture

Everyone believes in something, oh Scientific one...I believe I'll have another beer!  Try catching up on yer reading:  "The Tao of Physics," for example.

Wahooo's picture

The old testy is Jewish mythology, written by a Jew in praise of Jews. You can find the same everywhere around the world. Like mercan ceptionalism. It's all fucking bullshit.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

It'll be an uphill battle to undo the brain washing. Theism has had a 2000 year head start, give or take, and many billions of hours of repeating the same diatribe over and over again. Mind you, education (science, maths, history, humanities, ethics, english, politics) has worked wonders in a phenomenally short period of time.   

fel.temp.reparatio's picture

There was a Jew AND an Arab on board?! ...did they get along? ...just curious.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

They were until the Arab blocked the head.

Ahhhh, to be a pig on Noah's ark. You'd be the only creature who didn't have to sleep with one eye open.

freedogger's picture

Not sure, but reading and writing came from Iraq.

uno's picture

cnbs says it's bullish

BuddyEffed's picture

Given this statement "However, the greatest foreign policy failure to date in trying to prevent a potential ‘genocide’ is arguably allowing IS to take over the dam in the first place.  The US has always known the importance of the dam.   Furthermore, just as we had the ability to get Bin Laden at Tora Bora and failed to act, US officials knew that the IS leadership was assembled in one place and decided not to take them out."

that makes me think all is not what it seems.

jballz's picture

It is exactly what it seems. This is a proxy army funded by uncle mic to launch a proxy war against the Shia crescent and fracture the Middle East forever so it can be easily mNaged by the oil companies.

Unbelievable they can get away with it. Sad these atrocities are being committed by our covert agenda.

But I do like my gasoline so I'll just eat my Big Mac and shut the fuck up now.

DonutBoy's picture

It's tempting to thnk so - but Occam's razor suggests it is more unintended and unimagined consequences of our previous foregin policy fuck-ups.  We were trying to fight a proxy war in Syria to topple Assad - but the people we were arming had other plans.   What a shocker.  Nothing like that's ever happened before.  it's not like we were ever arming Osama Bin Laden, or Saddam Hussein.

jballz's picture


I am sure this dude has a few points wrong, but he mostly has it right. Most critically, how have these mongoloids managed to not kill a single American, nor even try, let alone jews. Scrape that across Occam's razor. SImplest answer is they are not allowed to. Some fuckin jihadis...

I's no accident.

jballz's picture


I am sure this dude has a few points wrong, but he mostly has it right. Most critically, how have these mongoloids managed to not kill a single American, nor even try, let alone jews. Scrape that across Occam's razor. SImplest answer is they are not allowed to. Some fuckin jihadis...

I's no accident.

tvdog's picture

The dam doesn't threaten any oil fields, does it? Well, then, no problem.

jubber's picture

bet IS have some US submarines, they seem to have everything else