Turkey Set to Starve Iran of Water

The Financial Times on July 6th reported rising tension between Iran and Turkey over a water crisis. Water shortage is no stranger to the Middle East currently North Africa, the Arab States, Iran, Pakistan, India, and some former Soviet states are in a drought that has lasted many years with reservoirs dried up and no end in site.

“Unlike most of its neighbors, however, Turkey has enough water inside its borders, which might explain part of the Erdogan government’s seeming overconfidence,” wrote John Dizard.

So why is a water drought in Iran and surrounding countries involving a Turkish water supply? Turkey happens to be where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers originate and flow down to Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Iran is taking Turkey to court to urge, through the judicial system, President Erdogan to release water held in Turkish reservoirs to help Iran. Currently, much of Iran’s oil facilities are threatened by the water shortage, in response to the threat to Iran’s oil industry the government has chosen to lower food production meaning they are reducing the water available for farming the result has increased desertification in the water-starved country. Desertification has caused salt from the flats to blow into once fertile cropland killing off what remains of Iran’s farming industry. Since December of 2017 farmers have vehemently protested the governments singular focus on the oil industry but almost eight months later there has been no change in the governments position causing many farmers to give up and move into cities. However, it isn’t just Iran suffering these issues but also Iraq who shares a border with Iran and Iranian issues surrounding the drought have started to seep over into Iraq. 

Protests in Iraq Burn Iran-Leaning Offices

July 19 Al Jazeera reported anti-Iranian sentiments appearing in Iraq as water shortages, high unemployment rate, corruption in all levels of government and business, and geopolitical splinters bolster crowds to burn down party offices of conservative Iranian and Hezbollah supporting groups like the Khazali Network and the Hezbollah Brigade. 

“While there has indeed been plenty of anti-Iranian sentiment in these protests with images of Ayatollah Khomeini being set alight and anti-Iranian slogans being voiced,… anti-Iranian sentiment, in this case, is a by-product (not a driver) of rage against the entire Iraqi political order,” reported Fanar Haddad.

The Iraqi government has tried to suppress the protests with force and also with appeasements allocating funds for projects that may ease the pain of struggle in the living conditions there. Nevertheless, the Iraqi government has become less friendly with the Islamic Republic.

The Arab/Persian Gulf Could See Fire in Strait

Yesterday Archival On Demand reported on Iran facing U.S. sanctions along with the looming threat of closing the Strait of Hormuz likely means we could see a return to missile strikes aimed at shipping lines and oil infrastructure along the shorelines of the gulf. This also occurred during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. Iran’s prevention of the Arab states to use the Strait to export their oil would put Iran in direct confrontation with not only the US and UK but the GCC exporting countries as well. An oil blockade on a heavily sanctioned Iran would provide opportunity for onboard inspections, something that could severely jeopardize Iran’s illicit black markets. Pressure is now mounting on three major borders of Iran.

The IRGC would likely be tasked with closing the Strait. The IRGC in Iran is a parallel military arm of the Islamic Republic tasked with defending the Islamic Revolution. While Iran maintains a conventional army, navy, and air-force, so too does the IRGC. The IRGC is one of the most dominant forces in the region militarily and economically. It is also the leading exporter of oil from Iran. The IRGC is positioned to take power in Iran in the event of an assassination of the Supreme Leader Khamenei. For this reason, many in Iran fear the installment of the Revolutionary Guards as a new regime. If the IRGC close the Strait, the GCC does not have the military power to confront Iran and will rely on western power protect their oil exports and imports of other essential commodities. This threat has produced the first weekly gain in 4 weeks in oil prices. 

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