Water crisis protesters cannot be blamed in southwest: Iran’s Khamenei
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, June 4, 2014. Photo by AFP/HO/Iranian Supreme Leader's website
Zhyan News Network
SULAIMANI - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday (July 23) that the protesters in the predominantly-Arab southeast over water shortages cannot be blamed, and called on officials to cope with the water problem, Iran's state media reported.
“Had the advice regarding Khuzestan’s water & wastewater system been heeded, surely such problems wouldn’t have arisen,” Khamenei tweeted.
“Now people have voiced their dissatisfaction & they can’t be blamed at all. They’re upset. Water isn’t a minor issue, especially not in the Khuzestan climate.”
The Arab-majority oil-rich province of Khuzestan has been rocked by protests over the week, with the demonstrators calling for action to address the shortage of water in the oil-rich province for seven consecutive days.
At least three people, including a police officer, have been killed in clashes in Khuzestan, according to state-run media.
Mobile internet services have witnessed disruptions since July 15 in the province, according to an internet disruption monitor.
“Cities in the region, including Ahvaz, Ramhormoz, and Susangerd, had experienced "a severe slowing of internet service or near-total internet shutdown" since 15 July, NetBlocks” said in a statement.
Iran's authorities blame a severe drought in the year for water shortages, noting that precipitation in the region has declined by almost 50% in the last year, leaving dams with dwindling water supplies.
But the residents in Khuzestan have lamented they are marginalized by the Iranian authorities.
Iran is facing its worst drought in 50 years and the water crisis has affected households, agriculture and livestock farming, and led to rolling power blackouts.