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Thanks for the article, Louis.

The water-scarcity crisis is so critical in Iran that like so many socio-economic and political problems are often discussed by the media. The root causes and solutions to these problems are also widely known and acknowledged but since their implementations require structural changes in the fabric of the regime go nowhere. Just yesterday, the reformist Etemad newspaper had an interview with Fatemeh Zafarnejad, an expert on sustainable development, under the title of “Water Resources: Victim of Aggressive Engineering.” http://etemadnewspaper.ir/1396/10/18/Main/PDF/13961018-3996-7-124.pdf

Zafarnejad has translated Patrick McCully’s Silenced Rivers to Farsi, and has written a book and many articles including the “The contribution of dams to Iran’s desertification” in English, for those interested. In this latest interview and in her other publications, she sums up the problems as follows:

“The political factions come and go, but the engineers and technocrats of consulting companies, contractors, and their government and private sector observers all continue to destroy the land. In fact, these are the “mafia” who are in charge of the inefficient management of water resources in Iran, and whenever there are complaints, the mafia blames everything on nature or people who have no one to defend them.”

She and others have been arguing that the “water mafia” despite their internal warfare have been united in pursuing the same profit-making and inefficient plans such as transferring water from the Caspian Sea, Aras, Karoon and dam and road construction that have been harmful and in conflict with a sustainable development. Isa Kalantari, whom you referred to, according to her, is just one of the culprits. He replaced Ms. Ebtekar as the new head of the Iranian Environmental Protection Agency in Rouhani’s second cabinet. Kalantari has authorized the plans to transfer water from Oman, Caspian Sea, and Karun to Iran’s central provinces, whereas Ebtekar had rejected them all. Zafarnejad says that these two should have a public debate over those policies so that the public can find out what is going on. She also criticizes the continuation of government policies in construction and maintaining water-consuming industries such as Isfahan’s Steel Plant away from Persian Gulf region where they would not have required the transfer of water to maintain them. Kalantari, by the way, before his latest assignment, was for five years the Director of Urmia Lake Revival Plan, which he concluded by declaring it un-revival.

On the eve of the 1979 revolution and throughout the Shah’s reign, the solution to all Iran’s problems to many seemed to be “just” the replacement of the Shah’s dictatorship with a democratic republic. Almost forty years later, the post-revolution regime has proved to be so incapable of reforming itself that any changes that have taken place have been the direct result of struggle of Iranians themselves imposed on the regime. The corruption, discrimination and injustice felt by the Iranians and the multi-faceted socio-economic, ethnic and ecological crises that have for so long ignored by the regime are driving millions of people into an unavoidable struggle for structural changes. The widespread riots that took place were just a glimpse into that long struggle.
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