For farmers still reeling from past troubles, the latest iteration of the conflict has plunged them even deeper into misery — and possibly sounded the death knell for agriculture in large parts of the country.
Systematic looting has robbed farms of much of the equipment necessary to renew operations. In an unprecedented development, some Iraqis have seen their land purposefully destroyed by their retreating enemies for no obvious military end.
“Living in this area, we’d seen chaos in the past,” said Fahad Hamad Omar, a Yazidi sheikh who was driven from his farm at the foot of Mount Sinjar into a refugee camp on the mountain’s peak, when the Islamic State initiated its genocide of his ancient ethno-religious group in August 2014. “Never before, though, had people deliberately torched our fields. Never had they tried to completely wreck our livelihoods. Never have we encountered such animals.”