Iran’s Biggest Problem Isn’t Sanctions or Today’s Elections; It’s Water

From 1962 until 1979, the majority of water-infrastructure projects in Iran were managed by Israeli experts. All that changed with the Islamic Revolution of 1979. And this is but one of the many ways the ayatollahs have pushed their country to the brink of environmental disaster, as Seth Siegel explains:

Due to gross mismanagement and its ruinous impact on the country, Iran faces the worst water future of any industrialized nation. . . . Beginning in 1987, as the war with Iraq was ending, the special military force of the Iranian regime—the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—was given a special perk. Among other strangleholds on the Iranian economy, IRGC-owned companies . . . were given control over major engineering projects throughout the country. Recklessly, these companies began damming major rivers, changing the historical water flows of Iran. This was done to give preferences to powerful landowners and favored ethnic communities while also transferring billions from the public treasury to IRGC leaders’ accounts. . . .

At the same time, the . . . regime turned a blind eye as farmers drilled wells without controls or concern about sustainability, giving themselves all of the groundwater they wanted. With fuel long heavily subsidized in Iran, farmers turned on their diesel pumps, and often left them on, even when fields didn’t need irrigating. After a few years of such abuse of dammed rivers and over-drafted groundwater, aquifers began to go dry and lakes shriveled. . . .

With farmland ruined, topsoil blown away, and insufficient water to grow crops, millions of farmers and herders have left the countryside to live in dismal conditions in Iran’s growing cities. Meanwhile, deserts have expanded, and the environmental damage to the country continues. . . . Sooner or later, the music will stop. Mother Nature is forgiving only up to a point. Once aquifers are pumped dry and begin collapsing on themselves, there is no engineering project—corrupt or otherwise—that can save them.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Iran, Israel diplomacy, Politics & Current Affairs, Water

The EU Must Stop Tolerating Hizballah

July 21 2017

Tuesday was the fifth anniversary of the bombing in the Bulgarian city of Burgas, which left five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian dead. After the bombing, the EU designated the “military wing” of Hizballah, which carried out the attack, a terrorist organization. But unlike the U.S., Egypt, and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the EU doesn’t apply this designation to the Hizballah’s “political wing.” Toby Dershowitz and Benjamin Weinthal write:

[T]he EU needs to . . . recognize, as Hizballah [itself] does, that the organization isn’t bifurcated into political and military “wings.” . . . Hizballah’s terror-financing activities and its critical role in the Syrian war should be enough for the EU to deport Hizballah members from its 28 member countries. Anything short of full designation would enable Hizballah to continue fundraising and operating its front companies. Last year, for instance, . . . German authorities uncovered a money-laundering operation in Europe that amassed nearly €1 million ($1.1 million) a week for more than two years, money that Europol and the U.S. Treasury Department says went to fund Hizballah.

Membership recruitment in Europe is also a significant tool for Hizballah. According to a recent German intelligence report, there are 950 active Hizballah members in Germany. This calls into question the effectiveness of the EU’s 2013 sanctions, which were imposed only on Hizballah’s “military wing.” . . .

Should Europe maintain the status quo . . . it does so at its own peril. European security will continue to be put at risk. And Hizballah will be given the signal that Europe is far from serious about countering terrorism.

Read more at FDD

More about: Bulgaria, European Union, Hizballah, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism