Syrian farmers have been struggling in the northeast province of al-Hasakah due to a drought and a ban on wheat sales to government-controlled areas of the territory imposed by US-backed Kurdish authorities.
“Foreign intervention by the US and its allies, and the drought have put the farmers in trouble, and they face obstacles to selling their products,” Abdul-Hameed Karaku, the head of a Syrian farmers union, told China’s Xinhua.
“The difficulties and economic siege, as well as the embargo imposed by the US forces, have broken the back of the farmers and added a big burden on them and their children,” Karaku added.
The US maintains crippling economic sanctions on Syria that specifically target the country’s energy and construction sectors to prevent reconstruction. The US also has about 1,000 troops stationed in northeast Syria, where most of the country’s oil fields and wheat fields are located.
The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), known as Rojava, controls an area of Syria where two-thirds of the country’s wheat is planted and has forbidden its farmers from selling to areas under government control. Damascus still manages to purchase some wheat from the region and offers premiums to farmers willing to work around the restrictions.
Al-Hasakah produces about 36% of Syria’s wheat. Most of the province is under Kurdish control, although the government maintains some areas. “The US-backed militias have prevented the delivery of grains to the government areas,” Ali Makhlouf, the province’s head of agriculture, told Xinhua.