At one of the demonstrations in early March, farmers mockingly chanted “Death to farmers, long live oppressors!” in reference to the lack of help the Iranian Regime was providing to those desperate for more water. The original protest in Varzaneh, near Isfahan, was fairly small, but it soon grew.
At the later, larger protests, dozens of police on motorcycles turned up to use tear gas on the protesters in an attempt to make them disperse. This is a common tactic for the Regime at any protest.
At drought protests in January, the police opened fire on protesters, killing at least five.
Around 97% of Iran is now affected in some way by the drought, according to Iran’s Meteorological Organization. In some areas, this is so bad that people are forced to relocate.
Credible sources from inside Iran stress: “Towns and villages around Isfahan have been hit so hard by drought and water diversion that they have emptied out and people who lived there have moved.”
This is something that the United Nations mentioned in a 2017 report. It read: “Water shortages are acute; agricultural livelihoods no longer sufficient. With few other options, many people have left, choosing uncertain futures as migrants in search of work.”
However, this drought is not merely a natural disaster. It has been exacerbated by the corruption and the incompetence of the Iranian Regime as cited by Seth Siegel in The New York Times and Nik Kowsar in the Tower; both published in 2017.
Kowsar wrote in The Slow Destruction of Iran’s Water Supply that he was ostracized and forced to flee for criticizing the Regime for ruining the country’s water supply, while one local journalist, who declined to be identified, said: “What’s called drought is more often the mismanagement of water.”
The Regime should be worried about these protests, after all, drought was one of the main triggers for the Syrian protests in 2011, which led to the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
These protests are part of a larger anti-regime protest movement that has sprung up across Iran, encompassing all sectors of Iranian society. The people have different trigger causes (i.e. drought, unemployment, human rights) but they are all calling for the same solution: regime change.