Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander Hossein Salami during an event in Tehran on July 14, 2023

IRGC Commander Threatens Opponents With Full War

Saturday, 07/15/2023
Maryam Sinaiee

British Iranian journalist and political analyst

Revolutionary Guard commander Hossein Salami, visiting Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan, threatened "full war" against any opposition as the province struggled without water.

“We will fight robustly against those who take up arms against us. We will quash those who make the country unsafe, but we must rescue those who need help and are walking into fire,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting with local military and civil officials on Thursday.

The IRGC commander's warning served as a reminder that trouble can break out, as the people in the extremely hot region could engage in protests as they did in July 2021.

He also referred to the oil-rich Khuzestan Province as a place "where all the plans of the enemies come together." Salami enumerated these as "separatism, division among people, transformation of people into what the enemy seeks, and sanctions," adding that the enemy should not be allowed to make any moves in the province.

“We must assist the youth and save our children from the fire of the enemy,” he said, adding that the IRGC must "protect" everyone, whether they are revolutionary and religious or not, "against the massive plots of the enemy" and "save the youth from the claws and cultural war of the enemy."

A screengrab of a video of water protests in Khuzestan province in July 2021

“Salami has basically repeated his usual threats, with promises of saving those who he says have been unwillingly corrupted by the enemy. But making these statements in Khuzestan now and emphasizing that 'war has not finished in Khuzestan,' although it refers to the Iran-Iraq War three decades ago, is noteworthy,” said an Iranian political analyst who requested anonymity, speaking to Iran International.

“Nothing has been done about the water shortage, just the same as in other parts of the country. Moreover, in the past two years, people have become even poorer because of the policies of President Ebrahim Raisi, who had promised to improve their lives in a short time. So fresh protests could happen anytime again,” he added.

In the past few days, there has been a drinking water outage in some neighborhoods of Ahvaz, the capital of the province, and some other areas in the province.

Thousands protested over water shortages in Khuzestan two years ago in July. Thousands of others joined the protests in other provinces, including neighboring Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Lorestan, and Bushehr. Even as far as the city of Tabriz, the capital of East Azarbaijan Province, people took to the streets in support of Khuzestani protesters.

Regime security forces cracked down heavily on the protests, which soon turned into anti-government unrest and lasted for nearly two weeks. Hundreds were arrested, and at least ten protesters were killed by security forces in various cities in Khuzestan and neighboring provinces.

Numerous dams built on the major rivers of the fertile plains of Khuzestan, and the transfer of water to other areas, including Esfahan Province, to support water-intensive industries such as steel, have been blamed for the water shortage in the province.

At the time, officials admitted that at least 700 villages in the province were affected by water shortage, and water had to be supplied regularly by tanker trucks.

Water issues have been at the center of President Ebrahim Raisi's visits in recent months to Sistan-Baluchestan, Kerman, and Khuzestan provinces, where water shortages have impacted many towns and villages. In these areas, summer temperatures sometimes exceed 50°C, and both drinking water and water for agriculture are very scarce in many areas.

Khuzestan has a population of around 5 million and is the second richest province in terms of GDP after Tehran province. Some of the most important battles in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) were fought in Khuzestan, particularly in the marshes around the port city of Khorramshahr, as Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein claimed the province as Arab. Northern Khuzestan is mainly populated by Bakhtiari tribes, while the southern regions are home to Arabs, Lurs, and Persians.

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