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Why Environmental Protests In Iran Are Being Ignored

The growing environmental movement in the West, wittingly or not, has given no attention to mass protests in Iran against the clerical regime, most recently focused on the drought conditions and other ecological risks. Had ecologists been hoping to sign a green pact with Tehran?

Local women walk on Gavkhooni wetland in Isfahan province, central Iran

Local women walk on Gavkhooni wetland in Isfahan province

Elahe Boghrat


I wrote this in late November as farmers in Isfahan, in central Iran, faced a ruthless assault by the security forces of the Islamic Republic on the dried Zayanderud river bed, where they had been protesting for several days. The latest footage shows shots being fired on the crowd of citizens, striking at least one man and a woman.

Farmers had called a protest for 9 a.m. on November 26, and large numbers of people were expected to gather in the river bed where water had until recently flowed for centuries, if not millennia.

The international community, which for decades has failed to question the information fed it by the Islamic Republic and its lobbyists and sympathizers abroad, said nothing about those protests, even as the world's attention was focused on the COP26 summit in Glasgow to discuss the state of the planet.

Indeed, the protests in Iran were about the very same topic, with drought and other environmental destruction in Iran. Countries preferred to listen to the claims of the Islamic Republic's envoys who were also in Glasgow, no doubt hoping for some sanctions relief and a cash handout.

Drought is real

These same people vowing to join a global green alliance are the ones who have destroyed Iran's environment, with or without sanctions, and insist on a satanic nuclear program that has isolated Iran from its neighbors and the world and brought sanctions on its head. And now they declare they would join a global green pact if sanctions were lifted!

Even in the summer of 2020, after the world had watched Iran's sham presidential vote and the election of the man Iranians dub the Death Judge, nothing was said when protests erupted over water in the southern province of Khuzistan. Once more, the media seemed to agree the elections deserved more attention than the protests of ordinary folk.

They looked the other way

But dried rivers will not flow again with promises, threats, repression or an Internet shutdown. Sooner or later, endemic and worsening drought in several parts of Iran was going to reignite protests. But are these protests not part of a global movement to save the environment? Only drought is not some distant threat in Iran. It has already happened.

Yet the defenders of the environment looked the other way. Was it to avoid offending the regime that is fueling this calamity? Are protesting Iranians and their bloody repression less important than Greta Thunberg's now-familiar declarations at summits?

Sometimes, the most harmful and inhumane act of all is neither words nor deeds, but silence.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Putinism Without Putin? USSR 2.0? Clean Slate? How Kremlin Succession Will Play Out

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, political commentators have consistently returned to the question of Putin's successor. Russia expert Andreas Umland foreshadows a potentially tumultuous transition, resulting in a new power regime. Whether this is more or less democratic than the current Putinist system, is difficult to predict.

A kid holds up a sign with Putin's photograph over the Russian flag

Gathering in Moscow to congratulate Russia's President Vladimir Putin on his birthday.

Andreas Umland


STOCKHOLM — The Kremlin recently hinted that Vladimir Putin may remain as Russia's president until 2030. After the Constitution of the Russian Federation was amended in 2020, he may even extend his rule until 2036.

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However, it seems unlikely that Putin will remain in power for another decade. Too many risks have accumulated recently to count on a long gerontocratic rule for him and his entourage.

The most obvious and immediate risk factor for Putin's rule is the Russian-Ukrainian war. If Russia loses, the legitimacy of Putin and his regime will be threatened and they will likely collapse.

The rapid annexation of Crimea without hostilities in 2014 will ultimately be seen as the apex of his rule. Conversely, a protracted and bloody loss of the peninsula would be its nadir and probable demise.

Additional risk factors for the current Russian regime are related to further external challenges, for example, in the Caucasus. Other potentially dangerous factors for Putin are economic problems and their social consequences, environmental and industrial disasters, and domestic political instability.

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