Riot police vehicles deployed at the entrance to the city of Susangerd on Sunday night, July 18, 2021, according to a photo taken by an activist. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

July 28, 2021

After arrests and excessive use of force by security forces managed to quell peaceful water shortage protests in Iran’s southwestern Arab towns, demonstrations spilled over to other Iranian cities, especially the capital Tehran.

Unlike authority claims on rising temperatures triggering the water shortfall in southwest Iran, political and expert takes on the crisis pointed to the unfair redirecting of river flows to feed desert governorates and the Revolutionary Guards’ role in building dams.

Spontaneous protests incited by the deliberate draining of rivers and marshes and the forced displacement of the Arab population in the oil-rich Ahwaz region continued to sweep the rest of Iran, taking on an anti-regime political stamp.

Authorities tightened security on regions near borders with Iraq, local reports revealed, adding that an internet blackout disrupted the flow of information on events taking place in various parts of the country’s south.

Early last week, protests had turned bloody after special forces deployed from Tehran violently intervened in Arab cities as demonstrations escalated.

Amnesty International said that the death toll had reached at least eight, while local human rights monitors reported ten people killed in Ahwaz.

A few days ago, the uprising made its way to the city of Karaj, a satellite city of Tehran, with demonstrators chanting anti-regime slogans such as “Death to Khamenei.” Coinciding with the riots, reports found that the internet was shut down in the city.

Other than Karaj, pro-Ahwaz protests proceeded to Tehran and the city of Tabriz.

Video clips leaked from the streets of Karaj showed protesters, who included many Arabs, chanting heated anti-regime slogans calling for unity across Iran’s southwestern provinces and an end to dictatorship in the country.

Independent experts believe that the water shortage crisis that inspired the protests can be traced back to human interventions, such as dams, water transfer, and not heeding environmental recommendations in industrial areas.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.