Monday, June 24, 2019

What's Left Of ISIS is Burning Iraqi Crops in the Fields

From Reuters:

After years of war and drought, Iraq's bumper crop is burning
Iraqi farmer Riyadh woke on May 13 to find his wheat crop ablaze. In his fields in Diyala province, he found the remains of a mobile phone and plastic bottle which he believes was an explosive device detonated in the night to start the fire. 

Riyadh and his neighbors in Sheikh Tami village put out the blaze and saved most of his crop but hundreds of other farmers in Iraq have been less fortunate since Islamic State urged its supporters to wage economic warfare with fire.

Since the harvest began in April, crop fires have raged across Diyala, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Salahuddin provinces while the government, battered by years of war and corruption, has few resources to counter a new hit-and-run insurgency.

The government in Baghdad is playing down the crisis, saying very few fires have been started deliberately and only a fraction of the country’s farmland has been affected.
But officials in Iraq’s breadbasket province Nineveh warned that if the fires spread to storage sites, a quarter of this year’s bumper harvest could be at risk, potentially ending Iraq’s dream of self-sufficiency after years of disruption due to drought and Islamic State rule.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December 2017 but the militants have regrouped in the Hamrin mountain range which extends into the northern provinces - an area described by officials as a “triangle of death”. 

In recent weeks, IS has published detailed instructions online about how to carry out hit-and-run operations and weaken the enemy by attrition - without taking losses.

“It looks like it will be a hot summer that will burn the pockets of the rejectionists and apostates, as well as their hearts,” Islamic State wrote in its al-Naba newspaper last month, referring to Shi’ite Muslims and Sunnis who do not subscribe to its interpretation of Islam.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said last week that only about a 10th of the fires were the result of sabotage, with the rest caused by electrical faults, cigarette butts or faulty agricultural machinery....