An historical perspective allows to link water and oil with the never-ending Middle Eastern conflict. By refusing an unilateral and teleological approach, explicit in resource curse and hydraulic despotism theories, historical analysis can shed light on both material and mental factors: socio-economic, political, military, ethnic and religious matters intertwine with water and oil, and with each other, to define the long-term process of state-building and his reverse, internal conflict. This article focuses on Iraq and its internal struggles, in the last fifty years. A brief summary of Iraq’s twentieth century history serves as a premise for a reconsideration of the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict, the destruction of the Marsh Arabs of the Shatt’al-Arab basin, and the birthing process of the Islamic State, in which past environmental issues and socio-political repercussions reveal themselves in all their actuality.
Keywords: Middle East; Oil; Water; Conflict.