SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq — Dead fish lay in dry river beds, and a drinking water crisis is afoot, because neighboring Iran is diverting the flow of a river. The disaster that hit the towns of Qaladze and Khanaqin this summer has shocked the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Much of the problem, however, is far less visible. In the cool, green mountains near the Kurdish town of Biara, a walnut-growing area for decades, farmers complain that the mountain wells are drying up. Among them are Backtiar Hamakhan, who uses a spade to remove stones and sand to allow what little water there is to reach his trees. Despite this, the supply is no longer enough to fill his water cistern, and he watches as it flows downhill to his neighbor’s land.