October 06, 2014

06/10/2014: 40 percent of Iraq’s annual production of wheat under IS control

A wheat farmer from outside Mosul, Salah Paulis and his family fled the militant group Islamic State early last month, reports MSN News.
 
Iraq wheat harvest in more peaceful times

The group overran the family farm as part of its offensive that captured vast swathes of territory in northern Iraq. Two weeks later, Paulis, who is a Christian, received a phone call from a man who said he was an Islamic State fighter.

“We are in your warehouse. Why are you not here working and taking care of your business?” the man asked in formal Arabic.

“Come back and we will guarantee your safety. But you must convert and pay $500.”

When Paulis refused, the man spelled out the penalty. “We are taking your wheat,” he said. “Just to let you know we are not stealing it because we gave you a choice.”

Other fleeing farmers recount similar stories and point to a little-discussed element of the threat Islamic State poses to Iraq and the region.

The group now controls a large chunk of Iraq’s wheat supplies. The United Nations estimates land under IS control accounts for as much as 40 percent of Iraq’s annual production of wheat, one of the country’s most important food staples alongside barley and rice. The militants seem intent not just on grabbing more land but also on managing resources and governing in their self-proclaimed caliphate.

Wheat is one tool at their disposal. The group has begun using the grain to fill its pockets, to deprive opponents – especially members of the Christian and Yazidi minorities – of vital food supplies, and to win over fellow Sunni Muslims as it tightens its grip on captured territory. In Iraq’s northern breadbasket, much as it did in neighbouring Syria, IS has kept state employees and wheat silo operators in place to help run its empire.


Read more HERE.
 

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