[Marxism] Comment from an Iranian on my water crisis article

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jan 9 15:54:32 MST 2018

Thanks for the article, Louis.

The water-scarcity crisis is so critical in Iran that like so many 
socio-economic and political problems are often discussed by the media. 
The root causes and solutions to these problems are also widely known 
and acknowledged but since their implementations require structural 
changes in the fabric of the regime go nowhere. Just yesterday, the 
reformist Etemad newspaper had an interview with Fatemeh Zafarnejad, an 
expert on sustainable development, under the title of “Water Resources: 
Victim of Aggressive Engineering.” 

Zafarnejad has translated Patrick McCully’s Silenced Rivers to Farsi, 
and has written a book and many articles including the “The contribution 
of dams to Iran’s desertification” in English, for those interested. In 
this latest interview and in her other publications, she sums up the 
problems as follows:

“The political factions come and go, but the engineers and technocrats 
of consulting companies, contractors, and their government and private 
sector observers all continue to destroy the land. In fact, these are 
the “mafia” who are in charge of the inefficient management of water 
resources in Iran, and whenever there are complaints, the mafia blames 
everything on nature or people who have no one to defend them.”

She and others have been arguing that the “water mafia” despite their 
internal warfare have been united in pursuing the same profit-making and 
inefficient plans such as transferring water from the Caspian Sea, Aras, 
Karoon and dam and road construction that have been harmful and in 
conflict with a sustainable development. Isa Kalantari, whom you 
referred to, according to her, is just one of the culprits. He replaced 
Ms. Ebtekar as the new head of the Iranian Environmental Protection 
Agency in Rouhani’s second cabinet. Kalantari has authorized the plans 
to transfer water from Oman, Caspian Sea, and Karun to Iran’s central 
provinces, whereas Ebtekar had rejected them all. Zafarnejad says that 
these two should have a public debate over those policies so that the 
public can find out what is going on. She also criticizes the 
continuation of government policies in construction and maintaining 
water-consuming industries such as Isfahan’s Steel Plant away from 
Persian Gulf region where they would not have required the transfer of 
water to maintain them. Kalantari, by the way, before his latest 
assignment, was for five years the Director of Urmia Lake Revival Plan, 
which he concluded by declaring it un-revival.

On the eve of the 1979 revolution and throughout the Shah’s reign, the 
solution to all Iran’s problems to many seemed to be “just” the 
replacement of the Shah’s dictatorship with a democratic republic. 
Almost forty years later, the post-revolution regime has proved to be so 
incapable of reforming itself that any changes that have taken place 
have been the direct result of struggle of Iranians themselves imposed 
on the regime. The corruption, discrimination and injustice felt by the 
Iranians and the multi-faceted socio-economic, ethnic and ecological 
crises that have for so long ignored by the regime are driving millions 
of people into an unavoidable struggle for structural changes. The 
widespread riots that took place were just a glimpse into that long 

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