Large parts of Al-Ahwaz have been decimated by a decade-long Iranian regime initiative to farm and export sugarcane – against the advice of agricultural experts, researchers and academics – with rivers and wetlands dried out and reduced to arid salty wastelands by the diversion of water for this project and thousands of farmers left destitute. Now, according to a July 24th Reuters report citing Iranian regime officials, Iran has just imported 150,000 metric tons of sugar for domestic consumption.
While this is an unofficial acknowledgement of the futility of the regime’s project, that is no comfort to the thousands of Ahwazis who were forcibly dispossessed or left destitute by it, including those suffering severe respiratory problems and asthma-related hospitalization as a result of the horrendous air pollution caused by the large-scale burning of the sugar cane fields after harvesting.
Setting fire to the sugarcane fields during the harvest seasons dragged the lives of Ahwazis into a nightmare by triggering a massive ecological catastrophe.
The regime’s decision to resort to importing sugar, abandoning its pointless and wasteful sugarcane-farming initiative, is also no compensation for the horrendous environmental destruction caused by the massive diversion of precious water for the project, which has devastated the ecosystem, with the once-bounteous Karoon river and the once lush surrounding farmlands now so dried out and so saline as to be nearly undrinkable and useless for fishing or agriculture, the staple occupations and means of survival for Ahwazi communities in the region for centuries.
This is just one more of the ongoing tragedies inflicted on the Ahwazi Arabs, whose rights are ignored, whose land is destroyed, and who are treated as at best guinea pigs for successive Iranian regimes’ experimentation.