The region, once home to almost 13 million palm trees, acclaimed to be among the finest in the world, suffered greatly during the Iraqi-Iranian war which began in 1980 when the Saddam regime ordered the destruction of many of the palms as part of a ‘construction’ campaign to enhance security in the region.
In more recent years, the outbreak of the 2003 war brought further devastation to the agricultural areas of Faw and Abu Khusaib and Shatt al-Arab in the Basra province.
Many orchards were seriously damaged as hundreds of families were displaced from the Ahwar marshes to the palm groves. At the same time, benefiting from the chaos in the region, gangs were seizing farmland by force and reselling it to developers.
Ministerial figures for 2003 indicate that there remained only three million date palms in the province, indicating that 10 million had been destroyed over the previous 20 years.