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Opinion
Bobby Ghosh

Water Shortages Threaten Iran With Political and Economic Apocalypse

The country’s own environmental expert has predicted massive population displacement as provincial aquifers on the verge of running dry.

A centuries-old bridge near Isfahan: A river used to run through it

A centuries-old bridge near Isfahan: A river used to run through it

Photographer: ATTA KENARE/AFP

Amid the escalating protests over water shortages in Iran’s oil-producing Khuzestan province, government officials in Tehran are unable to fall back on the old excuse that nobody could have seen the crisis coming. They themselves did. 

In 2015, Isa Kalantari, a former Iranian agriculture minister, warned that water scarcity would force 50 million Iranians — 60% of the population — to leave the country. He complained that officials in Tehran had for too long ignored the problem, adding: “And now that they understand it, it’s a little late.”