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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

 

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC