July 26, 2021
Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed rising temperatures and lower rain levels for the water shortage crisis but promised to open dams to provide potable water.
He made his remarks on the eve of the tenth day of water shortage protests raging across Arab towns in the southwestern Ahwaz province.
Despite Rouhani’s pledge, Arab representatives who met with First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri demanded action, not words, from Tehran to resolve the crisis.
Security forces were deployed heavily on the ninth day of protests that have erupted in provincial cities like Susangerd, Ahwaz, Shadegan and Bandar Mahshahr.
Some city neighborhoods witnessed violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces, especially in Susangerd, the center of the unrest in Ahwaz, which is also known as Khuzestan province.
Activists of Arab majority Ahwaz have reported security forces firing rubber bullets and using tear gas to disperse demonstrators only hours after international warnings stressed the need for calm and urged against the use of force.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, meanwhile, rejected the complaints of the protesters.
Activists revealed that the “the number of those arrested increases around the clock,” affirming that security forces continue to detain protesters despite authorities vowing to release those already detained.
Authorities are requesting bail as much as two billion Iranian rials, an activist reported.
Security forces and police were deployed heavily in the city of Ahwaz upon the arrival of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami, eyewitnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Fars News, one of the Revolutionary Guards’ mouthpieces, quoted Salami saying that his forces will help provide water through tanks.
“Some 60 tanks, each with a capacity of 30,000 liters, will transport water to 87 villages,” said Salami, noting that another 40 tanks would be added.
He promised that a “150 permanent water tanks will be available in the villages.”