In this June 26, 2018 photo, water levels are low on the Euphrates River, in the Iraqi town of Mishkhab south of Najaf.(AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
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Iraq has banned its farmers from planting summer crops this year as the country grapples with a crippling water shortage that shows few signs of abating. Citing high temperatures and insufficient rains, Dhafer Abdalla, an adviser to Iraq's Ministry of Water Resources, told The Associated Press that the country has only enough water to irrigate half its farmland this summer.But farmers fault the government for failing to modernize how it manages water and irrigation, and they blame neighboring Turkey for stopping up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers behind dams it wants to keep building. Water levels across these two vital rivers – which together give Iraq its ancient name, Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers – fell by over 60 percent in two decades, according to a 2012 report by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.In Iraq's rice belt, the farmland is cracked and dry.Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest Shiite authority in Iraq, castigated lawmakers, telling the government it must help farmers and modernize irrigation and agriculture.It is building new dams that will further squeeze water availability in Iraq.
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