Ongoing protests in Isfahan reached a turning point on Friday. Farmers have been holding demonstrations at the dried basin of the Zayandeh Rud river in the province to protest water shortages that have been caused by the Iranian regime’s corrupt policies.
Support for the farmers and their protests have been garnering support from people from all walks of life across Iran. Thousands of protesters joined forces with the farmers to call for justice and basic human rights, chanting phrases such as: “The people of Isfahan will rather die than give in to disgrace”; “Zayandeh Rud is out undeniable right”; and “We will not go home until we get our water back.”
Friday’s demonstration was so crowded that the regime’s state-run media, which usually censors news of protests, admitted that more than 30,000 people of Isfahan province had gathered at Zayandeh Rud.
Regime officials seemed to be fearful of the large gathering at the river basin and local reports said that access to mobile internet in the region was cut off by the regime to prevent news of the protests spreading around the country.
The first vice-president of the regime, Mohammad Mokhber appeared on television to give a speech, responding to the protests claiming to have passed on the issues to the energy and agriculture ministers to solve the issues.
However, following Mokhber’s speech, the energy minister stated that he was sorry to the farmers and claimed, “we are not in a position to provide their water needs.”
The reality is that the regime’s corrupt and destructive policies have taken their toll on every aspect of Iran’s economy. The unbridled looting and taxing of the country’s resources and infrastructure have brought the country’s agriculture industry to a point where it can no longer address the problems of Isfahan’s farmers.
Regarding Isfahan’s water resources, experts have stated that the water store behind the Zayandeh Rud dam is mostly empty. About 14 percent of the water remains, and even if it is released into the river basin, it will barely last for a few days.
Farmers rely on the river to irrigate their agricultural land, but the regime has built dams in the area and channeled it to serve industrial projects run by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) instead.
The Supreme Water Council and the Council of Coordination for Zayandeh Rud originally ordered that for the allocation of the water of the river, 74.3 percent was to be used by the farmers in the area, while the remaining 25.7 percent would be permitted for use by the energy ministry and government projects. However, the regime has taken it upon themselves to seize full control of the river, leaving the farmers with no means to irrigate their land.
Farming is among the key economic activities of Isfahan, and with irrigation water becoming scarcer, the livelihoods of millions of people in the province are endangered.
Isfahan is not the only province affected, many other provinces in Iran are faced with the same problems. Despite the issues and protests stemming from the regime’s corrupt ideas and policies, officials fear that the protests will turn into anti-regime uprisings at any time, akin to the major uprising that took place two years ago, pushing the regime to the brink of collapse.
To prevent its downfall, the regime brutally suppressed the protests, tragically killing 1,500 protesters in the process. In the two years since the November 2019 uprising, the regime has failed to address any of the economic problems that triggered the nationwide protests in the first place.
Today, inflation, poverty, unemployment, and other economic problems have brought Iran’s population is on the verge of another explosive uprising. And the powder-keg society is just waiting for a spark.