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

 

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy