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How IRGC Created and Amplifies Iran’s Water Crisis

Karun dried river

On Friday, protests in Khuzestan province entered their 8th day. These protests initially started due to the water shortages that have made life for Iranians there unbearable. The regime has created and worsened the water crisis in Khuzestan by adopting wrong policies. In this article, we intend to delve into the water crisis in Iran under the mullahs’ regime. 

Iran’s water crisis

According to an article by the state-run Aftab News on July 14, “Of Iran’s population of 85 million, about 28 million live in areas with water shortages and are under pressure in this regard, mainly in the central and southern regions of the country.” 

The Iranian regime and its apologists blame global climate change and drought for Iran’s water crisis. But the drought is not the real reason for Iran’s water crisis; the regime and its destructive policies have created this crisis.  

Iran has rainfall ranging from 50 mm in the Lut Desert to 2000 mm in Talesh heights in the north. When there is no cultivation, there should be a plan so people could use water. With a clever invention called the aqueduct, Iranians were able to create a glorious civilization in this country. 

However, the main reasons for Iran’s water crisis are the construction of unscientific dams by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its front companies. The IRGC uses these dams for military purposes. Before the 1979 revolution, there were only 30 dams across Iran. But now, according to the regime’s officials’ statistics, 1330 dams are in various stages of operation, implementation, and study. 

The IRGC and Hashemi Rafsanjani’s government in 1990 started the construction of dams under the pretext of combatting water shortages and resolving the drinking water problem in central Iran.  

But in fact, the regime transfers water to plunder Iranians further. In an article in 2018, the Persian section of Radio France Info revealed: “About 60 percent of the country’s electricity is generated by companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, foundations, and the Social Security Organization, which the government refers to as the private sector. Amid the crisis, the Iraqi government revealed that Iran was secretly transporting freshwater from the southern part of Iran to Basra.”  

Besides, dams are lucrative contracts for the IRGC contractors and serve as propaganda opportunities for the IRGC and its affiliates.  

For example, the IRGC has transferred Karun’s water to Isfahan, central Iran, under the pretext of helping agriculture and resolving the drinking water issues. Recent protests in Isfahan by deprived farmers underlined that the regime, in fact, has deprived them of their right to irrigation.  

The real reason for transferring water to Isfahan by the IRGC is the huge water consumption by the Mobarakeh Steel Company, one of the IRGC’s conglomerates and one of the largest industrial complexes operating in Iran.  

Even if the regime gives the Iranian farmers their right to irrigation, due to the mullahs’ negligence and refusal to develop Iran’s agriculture, Iranian farms still irrigate their farms in inappropriate and old methods. As a result, more than 80% of the water resources consumed in the agricultural sector are lost.  

How the water Transfer Affects Khuzestan Province? 

Khuzestan province has large Karun and Karkhe rivers, yet since the regime has built different dams on these rivers, farmers and other people in Khuzestan province now suffer from water shortages. 

“Karun River was the main artery of life in Khuzestan and the water supplier of Ahvaz, but now this river is about to dry up due to the construction of dams upstream of the Karkheh River. Water experts also confirm this issue and consider the impact of constructing unscientific dams and water transfer projects from the tributaries as the most important cause of drought in this province,” the officials IRNA News Agency wrote on July 22. 

The Karun River has dried up due to the IRGC’s unscientific dam construction

“For example, the Nissan district with 25 villages has a population of about 10,000 people. The Karkheh and Nissan rivers, one of the Karkheh tributaries, pass through this section at the end of the Hwaizeh Marshes estuary. Large dams also surround North Khuzestan, Dehdez district in Izeh with 100 villages is located between Karun 3 and Karun 4 dams; This area, which has always faced water problems, is now in a more difficult situation with the advent of drought,” IRNA writes. 

According to IRNA, “After the revolution, dam construction was wrongly introduced as the only approach to water supply in the country. Without verification and evaluation, the number of dams has steadily increased to the point wherein, in 2010, we had 1265 dams, including 584 dams in operation – 128 operational dams and 553 dams in the study phase. Of these, about 100 dams have been defined and designed on the Karun catchment area. About 40 dams are currently under construction or operation. In other words, we have built or are building a dam every 10 km on the 950 km route of Karun.” 


“Khuzestan province indeed is one of the most water-rich provinces in Iran, but the [regime] has built huge dams on almost all the rivers that come to Khuzestan province, and practically no water reaches the bottom of these rivers. So, in 2021 due to the severe drought, the level of many of these dams has dropped, and their water inflow has been less. Therefore, Khuzestan province will be deprived of the share of river water. Dams have dried up entire Iran,” wrote the state-run Aftab-e Yazd daily on July 17, about the construction of unscientific dams in the last few years. According to Aftab-e Yazd, the regime’s mismanagement and illicit activities “Every river that flowed in Iran were covered with several dams, and this caused the death of all rivers in the country.”  

Aftab-e Yazd underlines that “Dams have caused rivers to dry up in Khuzestan province. We built the dams in places where there was no need, and now the result is water shortages. When a dam is built, a lake is created on one side, which increases water evaporation. The amount of evaporation has increased due to the construction of dams, which evaporates about a quarter of the water we consume. These lakes behind dams cause wastes about 25 percent of the country’s water resources.”  

How does IRGC profits from the water crisis?

The IRGC uses dams for military purposes. In addition, it has started using the dams to generate electricity in the last two years. This electricity is either used by the IRGC’s front companies for cryptocurrency mining, exported to Iran’s neighboring countries such as Iraq, used by factories linked to the IRGC, or used for military purposes. 

On July 19, the Fars News Agency, an outlet linked to the IRGC, acknowledged this fact. 

“The first reason for the loss of water resources in the last two years is using dams from water resources management facility to electricity generator. According to the then CEO of Iran Water Resources Management Company, hydropower plants located in the country’s dams generated electricity 9% more than their goal.” Fars News wrote. 

“This means that water resources from the 2020 floods were diverted to downstream areas to generate electricity and were eventually wasted,” Fars News adds. 

To continue its illicit activities, the IRGC construct dams for transferring water from Karun tributaries. In addition to damaging the ecosystem in Khuzestan, transferring water from Karun to Iran’s central provinces, such as Yazd and Isfahan, would “increases the costs of industrial and agricultural products in central Iran, which is an economic disaster,” according to Mehr News Agency on July 22. 

This so-called plan to transfer Karun’s water started in 1987. According to the state-run Etemad daily on July 21, the regime started this project to resolve the drinking water issue in some Iranian provinces.  

“In 1987, [IRGC] again implemented the Koohrang 2 dam and tunnel project with the capacity of transferring 255 million cubic meters of water to Isfahan. The Koohrang 3 dam and tunnel project with the same capacity for the same destination is being completed and has not yet reached the operation phase. In addition, we have the Beheshtabad tunnel project, which is supposed to transfer 770 million cubic meters of water to Kerman, Yazd, and, of course, Isfahan,” Etemad daily wrote.  

“Cheshmeh Langan tunnel, which has a capacity of 195 million cubic meters, was put into operation in 2005, and the Khodangestan tunnel transferred 65 million cubic meters of water. The Vanak-Solgan dam was supposed to deliver between 200 to 250 million cubic meters of water to Rafsanjan and Kerman. Kamal Saleh Dam is another of these cases that delivered water to Qom in 2011 with a capacity of 100 million cubic meters of water,” Etemad daily adds, quoting Ali Sari, a former MP from Khuzestan.  

In other words, according to Sari, “The problem we are grappling with is due to the transfer of 600 million cubic meters of water, and it remains to be seen what the consequences of other projects will be.”  

In addition to building dams, the IRGC has been digging deep wells. Before the 1979 revolution, there were only 36 thousand wells in Iran. But official reports in 2015 indicate there are at least 794 thousand wells across Iran.   



While Iran suffers from severe drought in 2021, the real cause of Iran’s water crisis is the IRGC and the destructive policies by the entire regime. The water crisis is not limited to Khuzestan as the Zayandehrud river in Isfahan is drying to these policies.  The regime is the real cause of Iran’s water crisis, and its policies, whether the unscientific construction of dams or digging wells, are destroying Iran’s water resources.