Iran is ‘water bankrupt’, says former regime environment official

Iran’s former deputy environment minister Kaveh Madani being interviewed on CNN about the Iranian water shortage. (Video screengrab)
Iran’s former deputy environment minister Kaveh Madani being interviewed on CNN about the Iranian water shortage. (Video screengrab)
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Updated 24 July 2021

Iran is ‘water bankrupt’, says former regime environment official

Iran is ‘water bankrupt’, says former regime environment official
  • Mismanagement is to blame and much of the damage is irreversible, according to exiled minister Kaveh Madani
  • Days of protests over water shortages have rapidly evolved into anti-regime demonstrations across the country

LONDON: Iran is “water bankrupt” due to years of mismanagement by the regime, according to an exiled member of Tehran’s environmental ministry. The result is the severe water shortages that have triggered days of unrest and violence.

Scientist Kaveh Madani, Iran’s former deputy environment minister, told The Times newspaper that all sources of water are running dry, including rivers, reservoirs and groundwater.

The collapse of these essential systems even prompted Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to admit that the protesters might have a point. “We cannot really blame the people,” he said of the thousands of Iranians who have taken to the streets in Khuzestan Province in recent days to protest against the shortage of clean drinking water. At least eight protesters have been killed in the regime’s crackdown on the demonstrations. It has been reported that a police officer was also killed.

According to Madani, who now lives in the US, the crisis is of the regime’s own making.

“The system is water bankrupt when consumption is more than renewable water availability,” he said, adding that years of regime mismanagement is to blame.

In particular, he said, the availability of cheap fuel has proved to be more of a curse than a blessing in its effect on the water industry. With the cost of energy so low, cheap electricity has been used to pump huge amounts of groundwater to help expand the country’s agriculture sector.




Iranian citizens burn tires and wood to block roads as they protest against water shortages in the southwestern province of Khuzestan on July 17, 2021. (Screengrab from video shared on social media)

This has had a devastating effect on water reserves. Groundwater levels are now so low they are having an effect observable from space: NASA has said the loss of the weight of so much water has affected the region’s gravitational field.

In addition, since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Islamic Republic has built about 600 dams across the country, mainly to provide hydroelectricity for the country’s 80 million or so inhabitants. This energy comes with a hidden cost. Experts told The Times that reservoirs in hot and arid parts of Iran lose so much water to evaporation — about 2 billion cubic meters a month — they are a significant part of the problem.

Combined with what has been the driest year in half a century, these factors have caused “irreversible” damage to Iran’s water infrastructure, according to Madani.

“Iran cannot fully restore its wetlands, aquifers and rivers in a short period of time,” he said. “So, it has to admit to water bankruptcy and stop denying that many of the damages have become irreversible.”

Madani was an academic at Imperial College London when he was recruited in 2017 to be the deputy head of Iran’s Department of Environment. His appointment offended hard-line elements within the regime, however, and he was detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, accused of spying, and eventually forced to leave the country.


SDF leader: Washington will not abandon us

SDF leader: Washington will not abandon us
Updated 8 sec ago

SDF leader: Washington will not abandon us

SDF leader: Washington will not abandon us
  • Syrian Democratic Forces’ Mazloum Abdi: US addressed concerns after Kabul withdrawal
  • ‘They reassured us that this is not Afghanistan. They said the policy was totally different’

LONDON: The leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces has said Washington has reassured him that it will not abandon them, following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.

The Biden administration sent both Gen. Frank McKenzie, a senior military officer in charge of US Central Command, and Joey Hood, assistant secretary of state who heads up Middle East affairs at the State Department, to give reassurances to Mazloum Abdi that similar scenes will not be repeated in Syria.

He said locals under his protection have been shaken by what happened in Afghanistan. “Let’s be honest, after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan people were afraid. They were afraid they might face the same situation,” he told The Times.

Washington still has some 900 troops deployed in eastern Syria, and Britain is thought to have a regular deployment of special forces personnel in the region, although no official confirmation has been given as per UK Ministry of Defense policy.

The official line on the deployment of US-led troops in Syria is that they are supporting the SDF to eradicate the final collections of Daesh fighters in a nefarious space that is locked in by borders with Turkey and Iraq and land controlled by the Assad regime.

Abdi said the Biden administration quickly responded to his concerns, sending envoys to eastern Syria to meet with him.

“They reassured us that this is not Afghanistan. They said the policy was totally different,” he said, adding that he would prefer it if Washington promised to stay in the area until the Syrian conflict is concluded with a political settlement.

Abdi expressed hope that US support toward the end of the conflict might help secure formal recognition of Kurdish autonomy.


Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October
Updated 20 min 42 sec ago

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

AMMAN: Jordan's state carrier Royal Jordanian (RJ) will resume direct flights to Damascus as of Oct. 3, an official statement on state-owned Mamlaka television said.
Flights had been suspended due to the decade old conflict in Syria.


El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant
Updated 14 min ago

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant
  • The plant, which costs 20 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.27 billion), has a production capacity of about 5.6 million cubic meters per day of triple-treated water

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has inaugurated the Bahr El-Baqar water treatment plant, the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world.

The plant, which costs 20 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.27 billion), has a production capacity of about 5.6 million cubic meters per day of triple-treated water.

It includes four units, each with a production capacity of 1.4 million cubic meters per day.

The water produced by the station will be transferred to the lands of North Sinai as part of a national project to develop the governorate and optimize the use of water resources.

Egypt is implementing various large projects to benefit from agricultural drainage water.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said several development projects have been implemented in the Sinai during the last six years, including water desalination and energy, at a total cost of more than 700 billion Egyptian pounds.


Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report
Updated 28 September 2021

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report
  • Mohammad Eslami plans to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear power sector

MOSCOW: Iran’s vice president and head of the country’s atomic energy organization, Mohammad Eslami, has arrived in Moscow for talks with the chief executive of Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom, the RIA news agency cited Iran’s embassy as saying on Tuesday.
Eslami plans to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear power sector, it said.


Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know
Updated 28 September 2021

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know
  • Organizers of the Dubai expo hope to attract 25 million visits
  • People with special needs can get a free entry ticket to the Expo site

DUBAI: With only three days until launch, Expo 2020 Dubai is ready to welcome on Oct. 1 visitors to the Arab World’s largest global gathering to date.

Expos are among the biggest international events that take place every five years, where this year’s 191 participating countries, businesses and individuals from across the globe gather to explore, innovate, discuss, and share ideas and experiences.

The UAE became the first Arab country to organize this global event when it beat four other countries – Turkey, Brazil, Thailand and Russia – in 2013 for the right to host Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Expo’s logo is inspired by an ancient ring dating back to the Iron Age, which was recovered from an archeological site discovered by Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Organizers of the Dubai expo hope to attract 25 million visits during the duration of the event, despite the complexities posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Expo 2020 Dubai site covers an area of 4.38 square-kilometers of the Dubai South District, near the Al-Maktoum International Airport. It is also divided into three thematic districts: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

The 15,000- square-meter UAE pavilion, designed by renowned architect and engineer Dr. Santiago Calatrava, will be the biggest while Saudi Arabia’s 13,059- square-meter pavilion comes next.

Organizers have taken precautions to ensure safety and health of participants and visitors to the expo, thus requiring visitors aged 18 and above to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.

Non-vaccinated visitors who have not been tested meanwhile can use the coronavirus testing facility adjacent to the site.

People with special needs can visit the site for free, while their companions would be given a 50 percent discount for their tickets.