Fires in northern Iraq have reduced a potentially bumper harvest to ashes. The government blames mischance – but is something more sinister afoot?
Plumes of smoke shroud the summer sky of Iraq’s northern plains, creating an ominous veil of grey. Fires in Nineveh province have broken out on a scale that farmers here describe as unprecedented, turning tens of thousands of acres of wheat and barley fields into barren patches of black.
“Look at that, the livelihood of the people is destroyed,” says Jalal Muamah as he picks up a handful of charred barley spikes that pepper his field near the town of Sinjar. “We won’t have a harvest better than this year, not even in the next hundred years.”