Stunned by the number of frustrated people and farmers who took part in Isfahan’s water protests on the dried-out ground of the Zayandeh Rood River over the past 14 days, Iran’s regime fears the expansion of these protests to other parts of the country. It has thus called this protest a ‘gentle rally’ and said that the Iranian people are drawing a line between themselves and those who are ‘rioters and those who are fomenting riots’.
“These protests are not political at all; rather, the people are protesting because of their living conditions.” (State-run daily Jahan-e-Sanat, November 20, 2021)
“The rally was held without any political intention and only in support of the river flow, which has been suffering from various problems for many years.” (Siasat-e-Rooz, November 20, 2021)
At the rally fearing that the protest would become radical, government agents tried to encourage the people to chant slogans in favor of the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, but the people insulted him, and the regime’s plans failed.
It was so embarrassing for the regime that its state media was forced to write: “The people of Isfahan gathered under the Khajou Bridge to pledge allegiance with the supreme leader so that the opponents of the regime would not take advantage of the gentle gathering of farmers.”
Some state-run dailies were forced to acknowledge the gap between the people and the regime’s government which burned out all the regime’s claims about the people’s support of the supreme leader and the regime’s officials.
“Their ears [the people of Isfahan] are full of officials’ statements. Something that was hidden in the official reports of the day; No one demanded anything from the official, and if the name of an official was mentioned, people would protest in unison.
“The Minister of Energy responded to the protests by offering to pay money and to express shame. Other officials made statements that resembled pre-written letters in a public relations drawer.
“No one has ever heard that a farmer was asking for money. The farmer wants the right to water. He wants his agricultural land. In short, he wants his identity.” (State-run daily Shargh, November 20, 2021)
The regime’s propaganda effort to portray the uprising of the people of Isfahan as apolitical is due to its weakness and the fear of the danger of the spread of these protests to other parts of Iran and becoming an emulation for the poor and angry people all over the country.
This has been witnessed following the people’s protests in Khuzestan because of the same issue of water shortage which is due to the regime’s water policies which are redirecting the rivers to places in favor of the IRGC’s matters.
“If the country’s water resources are taken out of the hands of economic organizations and the water mafia, the problem (river dryness) will definitely be reduced.” (Mohammadreza Mahbub-Far, State-run daily Javan, November 30, 2021)
The November 2019 uprising has become a turning point in the relation of the Iranian people to the regime. And the people are aware that they cannot gain anything other than through protests.
“Although two years have passed since the tragic events of November 2019 (for the regime), its negative effects (for the government) are still visible. There is grief (and resentment) in the eyes of the people!” (State-run daily Etemad, November 20, 2021)
It admitted that the people have burnt all the bridges with the regime and wrote: “The angry protest of the people, even if it did not occur during the increase in the price of gasoline, was and is possible to appear on any other issue.” (State-run daily Etemad, November 20, 2021)
The reason for that is obvious, as other dailies have written about it.
“Managers of government agencies, who have been raising their salaries several times since the beginning of unbridled inflation, have been appearing in the media, linking the November 2019 protesters to dissidents and inciting public outrage.”
Mojtaba Yousefi, an MP, about the critical water situation in the Khuzestan province which is the same as in Esfehan said:
“Twelve MPs traveled to Khuzestan, and it was unbelievable that besides 700 wells in Ghayzanieh and oil wells, despite 5 large rivers and 7 large dams, the villagers do not have drinking water there.
“There are many remote villages whose drinking water and living conditions are very poor and they have problems with the most basic issues. There are some provinces and cities that are even involved in water and sewage and basic issues. For example, we see these problems in Khuzestan, Sistan, and Baluchestan, south of Kerman, Ilam, and Kermanshah.” (Stater-run news agency Borna, November 19, 2021)