Iran, so the water protest in Khuzestan shakes Khamenei

Cornered Khamenei must agree with Khuzestan’s thirsty protesters. Tehran wants to avoid risks before the inauguration of Raisi

“Khuzestan is thirsty”. For ten days the population of the richest of the Iranian provinces – although paradoxically the one in which people live in the worst conditions – have been protesting because of the water crisis. Demonstration of how the lack of water is already an argument at the basis of (geo) political balances, and it will be even more so in the coming years with the worsening of the effects of Global Warming.

Khuzestan is theoretically very rich: Cork of the Persian Gulf on the border with Iraq, is the province where Iranian oil is contained (80 percent) and much of the gas that would make the country an energy powerhouse for hydrocarbons. Power that Iran cannot express not because of the energy transition that will transform those resources almost into a burden, but because it is subject to US sanctions reactivated with Washington’s unilateral exit from the JCPOA nuclear deal.

The same sanctions, from the Trumpian era (while now the Biden administration is working for the recomposition of the Nuke Deal), that the outgoing president Hassan Rouhani points to water shortages. He says there are no technologies due to the American embargo, but forgets the various wrong investments in river barriers on the Del and Karun. Works led by the Pasdaran, as well as the theocratic military group (state within state) was entrusted with the management of water security. Areas in which they look for spaces to exploit their related interests.

The question becomes the subject of internal political and social dynamics. “Leave Syria and think of us”, say the demonstrators of Khuzestan and speak to the politicians but above all to the Sepāh, who have directed the Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war. A way to strengthen regional influence, but certainly a distraction of efforts and funds that has been going on for ten years, with a country whose economy is in serious crisis.

Money shifted from the services that the Iranian state could provide to citizens, and those same citizens when they protest ask for an account. In recent days the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei he had called his blood-dripping heart for Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, all countries where Iranian influence through funding local Shiite militias has certainly grown over the decade.

“And who thinks of Khuzestan?” the protesters wondered. Faced with the slogans and the fury of the population (there have been several injured in clashes with the security forces and even dead), Khamenei had to correct himself. Communication slip on the part of those who make communication (definitive way of preaching) a strong point. The Guide explained that he cares about the citizens of Khuzestan, actually treated as B series usually, and understand their needs: we cannot criticize the discontent of the people, “because the question of water is not a trivial matter, especially in the warm climate of Khuzestan”.

The weather is hot indeed. An Arab minority lives in Khuzestan and has also manifested separatist claims. The fear of Khamenei, to which the declarations are linked, is logical: if the protests of those who disapprove of the activities of the institutions of the Islamic Republic are added to the separatist claims, the situation risks getting out of control. The summation of discontent is complex.

This is also why the Internet has been shut down, a method by which the regime cuts off the potential spread of protests. Also for this reason both the army and the Pasdaran are moving in order to contain by force what is happening (today, in Ahvaz, a city affected by the protests, the leader of the Pasdaran landed Hossein Salami). As already happened in 2019, Iranian citizens demonstrate against a government that seems too oriented towards certain interests with respect to the good of the community, and by now preaching is not enough to keep hearts and minds in order.

The Pasdaran have become a mafia, they enjoy interests linked to building regional influence and maintaining the level of engagement (with Israel, with the USA, with Arab countries). Protests in Khuzestan are a poisonous legacy that Rouhani leaves behind Ibrahim Raisi, the conservative who will lead the country for the next few years after an electoral success in half, marked by the abstention of a slice of the electorate (the same portion that demonstrates in the streets against the modus operandi of the Islamic Republic and no longer has faith in any Iranian political component). Raisi has not yet taken office, what happens is an acid starter of the inauguration.

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