The already grave water crisis across the occupied Al-Ahwaz (‘Khuzestan’) region is steadily worsening due to the Tehran regime’s program of dam-building and river diversion. According to the regime-controlled Fars News Agency, the Ministries of Agriculture and Energy in Ahwaz have prevented Ahwazi Arab farmers in many areas of the region from cultivating rice, a staple foodstuff, citing the pretext of a lack of water; the same ministries recently announced that they had approved the excavation of water channels, diverting water from rivers in Ahwaz to distant Persian provinces
The Fars agency report quoted the head of the Department of Agriculture in Ahwaz as saying that the amount of land in the region planted with rice this year stands at 50,000 hectares, almost half the 98,000 hectares used for rice-growing in previous years.
Agricultural experts in the region have assessed the regional agricultural sector’s losses to date this year as exceeding 13,000 billion Riyals (US $410 million) as crop yields fall by 17 percent on those for the same period of 2014.
Only around 18.5 percent of the 807 thousand hectares of agricultural land in the previously fertile areas in the northern Ahwaz region is now suitable for farming, but even this reduced area has been hit hard by the dual problems of a lack of rainfall and the regime’s river diversion program, with only 18,000 hectares being productive. This means that agricultural production levels have fallen from 14.5 million tons in the same period last year to 12 million tons this year, a 17 percent decline.
Water scarcity has led to crop failure in around one-tenth of the wheat crops in northern Ahwaz, with 40,000 hectares of the 400,000 hectares of land in the region being unable to sustain wheat farming.
While most of the region’s agricultural land is adjacent to rivers, the regime denies the Ahwazi Arab farmers the right to use this water for irrigation, leaving them dependent on rainfall to irrigate their crops; this has led to disastrous crop failures in the past five years due to lack of rainfall and long-term drought. Despite the regime’s orders, many farmers have attempted to dig irrigation channels to reverse this catastrophic crop failure, but their efforts were unsuccessful due to lack of expertise and the necessary excavation equipment.
The regime’s policies are part of a calculated strategy to force Ahwazi Arab farmers to give up their land and sell to Persian settlers at rock-bottom prices. The regime grants these settlers all the financial assistance, and facilities which it denies to the Arab farmers, meaning that they can develop and revive the farmlands with the help of advanced farming and engineering equipment and irrigation systems which they are permitted nay encouraged and funded to use, unlike Arabs.
In summary, the occupying Iranian regime’s willful neglect of the rural areas of Ahwaz, as with the metropolitan areas, is not accidental, but a very calculated and carefully planned regime policy based on ethnic discrimination, intended to pressurize more Arabs into abandoning their own lands, paving the way for the regime to confiscate and occupy more Ahwazi Arab land.