Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Khuzestan province, Iran, is the land of oil (black gold) and one of the wealthiest parts of the world. Yet, presently, it is more thirsty than ever. The water shortage has led to widespread protests in which the regime’s security forces have killed four people. People from different cities of Khuzestan province took to the streets in protest. Despite an abundance of video clips from these protests posted on various social media platforms, the governor of Khuzestan denies any protests occurred and claimed these video clips are fake.
Khuzestan province has a population of 4.7 million, of which 24.5% live in rural areas. More than 700 villages face water shortages, and 660 villages lack any water system. Meanwhile, rivers such as Karun, Karkheh, Jarahi, Maroon, Shavar, Hindian, and Veds, have many tributaries in this province.
All water-related events throughout the province, and particularly central and southern regions, have exploded like a neutron bomb. The destruction of water resources, plus the drying up of lakes and rivers, is an acute crisis resulting from more than 42 years of mismanagement, rampant looting of water resources, and the destruction of Iran’s ecosystems. The above factors have resulted in such widespread protests.
Isa Kalantari, Iran’s former Minister of Agriculture and the current Deputy Minister and Minister of Environment of Iran, warned: “Until 1420, there will be no trace of agriculture in the lands around the Zagros and out of Alborz mountain ranges to the southern seas and eastern borders. Iran’s rich natural resources have been the victim of the country’s macro policies.” (Iran uses a solar calendar and the year 1420 is calculated as 2041 in the Gregorian calendar used by most other nations.)
Not long ago, ships were sailing in the Karun River as the primary shipping artery in Khuzestan and the water supplier of Ahvaz. Now this river is on the verge of drying up due to numerous dams on the Karkheh and Karun rivers. Water experts also confirm this issue and consider the impact of illegal dams and water transfer projects from the tributaries of this province as the most crucial cause of the shortage of water in this province.
Improper dam construction by the Revolutionary Guards
In total, after the anti-monarchical revolution of 1978, more than 600 dam projects in Iran have been built by the Khatam al-Anbia Holding, affiliated with the IRGC. Before the revolution, only 13 dams had been built in Iran. At times, the engineers, experts, and naturalists criticized the merit and need of even this small number of dams.
Speaking on December 18, 2017, in Ahvaz, in front of the Working Group for Dust Control in Khuzestan province, Isa Kalantari stated: “Our water resources destruction policies were several times more than 40 years ago, and in the near future, we will have more problems with water issues. If the crisis continues, it could lead to the emigration of 50 million people from Iran, to the point where there may be no such thing as Iran,” he warned.
At a conference on Water Management of Eastern Iran, held in Khorasan Razavi, Mohammad Hossein Shariatmadar, head of the National Center for Strategic Studies in Agriculture and Water of Iran Chamber, said: “50 years of mismanagement have left us only five years away from a general water disaster in Iran.”
The irony is that today, those who criticize the government’s wrong policies regarding water, irrational dam construction are the same ones who themselves have held government posts and have been directly responsible for these decisions in the last three decades. But the finger of blame is pointed at Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, with the great authority awarded to them by the Supreme Leader, who is plundering and destroying all the country’s wealth in all industries.
Hur al-Azim, one of the country’s water resources and a factor in the region’s ecological balance, was deliberately dried up by the IRGC’s oil exploitation. The vast profits either go directly into IRGC criminal leaders’ pockets or are spent on inciting war in the region. In return, the share of the people is dust and constant pollution, and terrible floods in Khuzestan province.
The disappearance of Hamoon, Kaftar, Bakhtegan, Maharloo, Parishan, Tashk, and some other wetlands from Iran’s geography is rooted in mismanagement, wrong policies, and regime corruption in Tehran. As an added note, it is worth knowing that Lake Urmia is on the verge of complete extinction for the same reasons above.
The IRGC’s illogical dam constructions have been instrumental in the deterioration of millions of lives, rampant looting of the environment, destruction of pastures, destruction of forests, desertification, air pollution, floods, looting and destruction of water resources, and other environmental disasters, in Iran on the one hand and a source of colossal money windfall for the Revolutionary Guards.
The regime is trying to silence the protestors by using its oppressive apparatus. They are labeling the protestors as counter-revolutionary, national security threats, and foreign spies. From the IRGC’s point of view, the protestors commit an unforgivable sin and have to wait for hefty punishments. The Iranian regime has executed many of its citizens under the above pretexts. The world still does not forget the elimination of Kavous Seyed Emami, a Canadian-Iranian scientist. Later, they claimed he killed himself in prison.
As a result of the mullahs’ rule over forests, lakes, and wetlands, the Iranian people now face rivers drying up, urban air pollution, and dust, along with other natural disasters. However, Iran faces social and economic catastrophes, including road accidents, deaths due to lack of corona vaccination and medicine, addiction, and prostitution as well. Each is so grave that it will take too long to elaborate.
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