Wave of protests over water shortages in Iran
by Nick Clark
People in south west Iran have
protested and fought with police for seven days in a row over a water shortage
The protests are the product of an incendiary mix of US-imposed economic
sanctions, climate change, and Iranian state corruption.
Iranian police have killed at least three people in the Khuzestan province,
where there have been nightly protests for seven days in a row.
The crisis has left ordinary people with a shortage of drinking water and
damaged farmersí crops.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has already apologised for a related energy
crisis, which has caused power cuts and blackouts. He said a drought affecting
Iran had both halted production in hydroelectric power stations, and increased
demand for electricity.
The blackouts also caused people across Iran to protest late last month and
earlier this month, including in the capital city Tehran.
The Iranian government says rainfall had fallen by 52 percent from last year.
But many ordinary people protesting also accuse the government of
ďmismanagementĒ and neglect.
Iran has faced years of punishing sanctions imposed by the US, which have
fuelled economic crises and made ordinary people suffer. Theyíre part of a
decades-long attempt by the US to isolate Iran, which is a challenge to its
control of the Middle East.
At the same time, Iranís rulers have tried to ďopen upĒ parts of the countryís
economy to the market, with industries and business run by state-linked private
Protesters blame the shortage on the construction of more than 100 dams by
companies owned by or linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. The
Revolutionary Guards is a powerful military and political arm of the state.
Even parts of the Iranian government say many of the dams are unnecessary,
drying up rivers, diverting them, or allowing water to evaporate.
Protesters in Khuzestan point out that the province has several large riversóand
demand to know where the water has been diverted to.
The protests come after a wave of strikes by oil
workers in the same province.
spreads across Iranís oil fields
Khuzestan is a centre of the petrochemicals industry central to Iranís economy.
Much of the fuel produced there is sold on outside Iran. Meanwhile its workers
suffer low pay and poor conditions.
The protests are also the latest in a series of demonstrations, strikes and
riots over poverty and corruption in Iran over the last few years.
As with all of the protests, the USówhich
backs dictators across the Middle Eastópretends
to support them for its own advantage. It often tries to present any protest as
opposition to the regime and support for the West.
US state department spokesperson Ned Price said the US ďsupports the rights of
Iranians to peacefully assemble and to express themselves.Ē
But protests and strikes donít show support for the US, which many ordinary
Iranians know has spent decades punishing them.
Instead they are resistance to a system that oppresses and exploits workers.