Is Islamic State using agriculture as a weapon of war in Iraq?
Burning down crop fields is not a new phenomenon as far as ISIS is concerned, as even in their pre-2014 insurgency phase, they often deployed this tactic of destroying the livelihood of Iraqi farmers. This was a tactic also used by Shia militias to take revenge on Sunni families. The scorched-earth method has and does still pose major problems for Iraqi food security, employment, socio-economic opportunities, and environment. The recent uptick of attacks indicates ISIS will continue to resort to crop destruction as a way of extorting money to fund their operations, or as a revenge tactic against Iraqi communities.
This article explores the trail of agricultural destruction in central Iraq, using open source methods and remote sensing to underscore the importance of this overlooked consequence of conflict and will provide a brief background on the importance of agriculture in Iraq.